08 Jul 2010

Fundamental Rights and EU Citizenship after the Treaty of Lisbon

Elspeth Guild

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This paper outlines the key changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty for citizens of the Union. Among the most important is access to EU fundamental rights through the legal effect that has been given through the Lisbon Treaty to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The three main consequences of this access to rights are:
• Citizens of the EU now have a Charter of Rights that is legally binding and which their state authorities must deliver in accordance with their duty of good faith to the EU;
• Third country nationals ever more resemble citizens of the Union through their inclusion as beneficiaries of Charter rights under the same conditions as citizens of the Union;
• The Charter provides a new and potentially very important source of rights for people in Europe, which cannot be modified by any one member state’s authorities on the basis of the inconvenience that those rights might constitute to them. There has been a desegregation of authority and rights which will assist member state authorities to have greater confidence in one another and people to have greater confidence in all EU authorities.

This paper was originally delivered as a speech to the Global Jean Monnet/European Community Studies Association conference in May 2010.