The Operational Mechanisms of the European Union and its Importance for Human Rights Protection

Course outline

The aim of the course is to provide an overview how the organization originally pursuing the economic integration of European states and seeking to eliminate barriers of trade has become a political entity protecting fundamental rights and articulating fundamental values applicable both to its own institutions and to its Member States. In this vain the course provides an introduction to the EU’s institutional- and legal system and takes account of the process which made it inevitable for EU law to guarantee an adequate level of protection of fundamental rights. The course analyses in detail the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union in ensuring an EU level of protection of fundamental rights, discusses the place and role of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and takes account of the institutions and mechanism of fundamental rights protection available in the EU and complements that with the eventually available political tools. The course briefly discusses the EU human rights policy manifested in its external relations and role in the accession negotiations.


The course contributes to the better understanding and evaluation of the fundamental rights profile of the EU. Students will receive a clear picture how does the fundamental rights afforded by the EU differ from that of the ECHR, gain detailed knowledge as to the content and scope of fundamental rights protection in the EU and the workings of the EU institutions ensuring that. Students will have an overview of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on fundamental rights and the provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Compulsory readings

  • P Craig, G de Burca, EU Law, OUP, 2011, 5th edition, Chapter 11

Recommended readings

  • Besselink, L. ’Entraped by the maximum Standard: On FUndamental RIghts, Pluralism and Subsidiary in the European Union’ (1998) 35 CMLRev 629
  • Douglas Scoutt, S. ’A Tale of Two Courts: Luxembourg, Strasbourg and the Growing European Human Rights Acquis’(2006) 43 CMLRev 629
  • Lenaerts, K. and De Smijter, E. ’A Bill of Rights in the EU’(2001) 38 CMLRev 273
  • Weiler, J.H.H. and Lockhart, N. ’”Taking Rights Seriously” Seriously: The European Court and its Fundamental RIghts Jurispurdence’(1995) 32 CMLRev 51 and 579


Petra Jeney