10 Colum. J. Eur. L. 5 (2003)

Ingolf Pernice, Berlin – Prof Dr. jur., Managing Director of the Walter Hallstein-Institut for European Constitutional Law at the Humboldt-University of Berlin.

The solemn proclamation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR or the Charter) by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on December 7, 2000 has been welcomed and broadly considered a major advance in the constitutional process of the European Union. The Declaration of Laeken on the Future of the European Union of December 15, 2001 (Laeken Declaration) now poses the question ‘whether the Charter of Fundamental Rights should be included in the basic treaty and to whether the European Community should accede to the European Convention on Human Rights’. As the Final Report of Working Group 11 of the European Convention created by the Laeken Summit rightly concludes, the answer must be positive in both regards, even though valid criticisms remain regarding the consistency, clarity and legal effectiveness of its provisions. The Charter will provide the basis and foundation of what will become the Constitution of the European Union, and its integration into the future Constitutional Treaty of the European Union would help to ensure that the European Union will respect the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which requires clear and effective safeguards for the protection of its guarantees (section 2). The question is how to integrate the Charter into the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union and how, in practice, its provisions will accommodate the other principles and provisions of the Treaty of the European Communities (TEC) and Treaty of the European Union (TEU) (together, the Treaties), provisions which are likely to be maintained in the new Constitution (section 3). Effective protection ultimately means effective access to justice, and it will therefore be necessary to find out how judicial protection of the fundamental rights of the individual can adequately be organized in the ‘multilevel constitutional system’ of the European Union (section 4). While there is no question of re-opening the discussion on the substance of the Charter, the conclusion is that to give it its place in the European Union Constitutional Treaty will be more than a formality and will instead imply some adaptation and reorganization of the Charter as well as a substantial revision of the Treaties (section 5).