The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) became a legally binding instrument with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009. Since then, it has turned into a transversal reference for assessing the impact on fundamental rights of all European Commission's proposals for EU legislation, while widening the Court of Justice's human rights role. These significant achievements aim to strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the EU.In keeping with this profile, the EU has also placed fundamental rights and freedoms respect at the heart of its external action, very conspicuously as regard to its enlargement policy. Indeed, the pre-accession requirements intend to reflect the inherent attributes of membership. However, the range of accession conditions does not correspond to the scope of membership obligations. In this line, unlike candidates, Member States are only bound by the Charter when they act within the EU law, their compliance is not subject to systematic monitoring and the procedure for being sanctioned is more demanding.This contribution will highlight the extent of this discrepancy and will explore the potentials for internal adjustments. The analysis will draw on the horizontal character of the Charter for EU law, the strengthened role of the European Commission as guardian of the Charter, the growth of the Court of Justice's contribution as a fundamental rights adjudicator and the leverage of the accession conditionality on the membership context.
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