Solemnly proclaimed on 7 December 2000 at the Nice European Council, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is now twenty years old. The European Parliament had been pushing for a document like this for a long time. In fact, MEPs felt it was important that every citizen should be able to find out about the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to them in the European Union and its Member States, and that a system of redress should be available to raise possible violations. The Charter was designed to be a fundamental benchmark and is the result of an entirely novel drafting method. The result is a single compilation of all the civil, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by European citizens and everyone living in European Union territory.
The human rights set out in the Charter are pivotal and inalienable. Its mission is to enhance protection as society evolves, accompanying social progress and scientific and technological developments. The rights are grouped according to several essential principles: human dignity, fundamental freedoms, equality among people, solidarity, citizenship and justice. The Charter also aims to create an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe so they can share a future based on common values. Since 2009, fundamental rights have been elevated to treaty level, as the Treaty of Lisbon makes reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is annexed to the treaties and is now applied by the European Union courts.