Minister of Justice Henriksson: Fundamental rights are at the heart of EU law

Ministry of Justice 12.11.2019 11.04
Press release

Democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, the famous tripod, are interlinked and interdependent. If one is missing, the whole tripod falls down, Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson said at the event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in Brussels today.

This year it will be 10 years since the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which enshrines fundamental rights for every EU citizen, became legally binding. The Charter is based on the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity. Fundamental rights also have a key role in the programme of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

“This is important to keep in mind when talking about fundamental rights: their promotion and protection are even more essential in turbulent times. For example, we are now encountering new challenges such as the increase of online hate speech. Freedom of speech is a precondition for a democratic society. However, hate speech hampers the full realization of rights, and is not protected by the freedom of speech. On the contrary, it can limit the access to information and the principle of non-discrimination,” said Henriksson.

“We have witnessed great developments regarding Charter awareness at national level, resulting in its increased use. Yet, there are still people in the European Union who have never even heard about the Charter. This means we all still have a role to play in the enforcement of the Charter.  Action is needed both at EU level and at national level,” Henriksson said.

The 10th anniversary event, organised together with the European Commission and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, is part of the programme of Finland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The purpose of the conference was to discuss how the Charter can, with the help of authorities, civil society and rights defenders, become a meaningful part of everyday life.

“I am very much looking forward to working with the new Commission in promoting fundamental rights. Finland will be a part of these efforts also after the Presidency.  Together we can develop a culture of fundamental rights across the Union,” Henriksson concluded.

Inquiries: Lisa Palm, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 150 069, [email protected]