The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union turns 20!

A novel negotiation method

European leaders believed the future Charter should lay down the rights to freedom and equality, procedural rights and fundamental rights that are enjoyed by European Union citizens, along with economic and social rights. The main objective was to ensure greater transparency in the system for protecting human rights by compiling in a single text all the rights that form the basis of the European political system and culture. However, the key innovation came, above all, in the procedure for drawing up the Charter. Rather than calling on diplomatic negotiation, European leaders decided to entrust drafting of the text to a working group that included representatives of the Heads of State or Government, the President of the Commission, Members of the European Parliament and national parliamentarians. Representatives of the Court of Justice also took part as observers.

Furthermore, representatives of the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and civil society would also be heard. This very open drafting method was both innovative and bold. For adoption of the Charter, the Cologne European Council stipulated that the draft text would be presented by December 2000 so that it could be formally and jointly proclaimed by the Council, the Commission and Parliament.