(22) The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

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The European Parliament and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The European Parliament as a Fundamental Rights Actor

 

It is appropriate to begin this section with a terminological caveat. In the absence of a normal (i.e. legal) distinction between “human” and “fundamental” rights, these terms will be used according to current practice. In principle, the former expression is used when the action in question has an external dimension whilst the latter refers to the internal dimension.6

The EP has always played a strong role in promoting and monitoring the respect of fundamental rights both within and outside the EU. From an institutional point of view, two parliamentary committees are involved in human rights matters:

(a) The Foreign Affairs committee (AFET), together  with its Sub-Committee on Human Rights,7 responsible for issues concerning human rights, for the protection of minorities and for the promotion of democratic values in third countries, and

(b) The Committee on CivilLiberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), entrusted with the protection of citizens’ rights, human rights and fundamental rights, including the protection of minorities, as laid down in the Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.8

Reflecting this internal distinction, every year two different reports on the situation of human and fundamental rights are elaborated:

(a) The Annual Report on Human Rights in the World prepared by the AFET committee, and

(b) the yearly Report on the situation of Fundamental Rights in the European Union prepared by the LIBE committee.9 In these reports the Strasbourg Assembly offers a global overview of EU’s policies and performs a critical analysis of the respect of the right of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.10

 

The Action of the European Parliament in the Field of Human Rights: External Relations

 

The EP can play an important role in the field of external relations using the bargaining power it enjoys under the assent procedure (when applicable) and influencing the treaty making process under the consultation procedure.

Under the Lisbon Treaty the Council shall obtain the assent of the Parliament for the conclusion of (a) accession agreements11 (b) association agreements; (c) agreement on Union accession to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (d) other agreements establishing a specific institutional framework by organising cooperation procedures; (e) agreements having important budgetary implications for the Community; and (f) agreements covering fields to which either the ordinary legislative procedure applies, or the special legislative procedure where consent by the European Parliament is required.12

When applicable, the EP uses the bargaining power it enjoys under the assent procedure. Since the entry into force of the Single European Act, ithas carefully scrutinized new accessions and the conclusion of association agreements. The latter agreements foresee reciprocal rights and obligations under the control of an Association Council, an Association Committee, and an Association Conference, composed by members of the European Parliament and members of the relevant national parliament. This framework allows the Assembly to play an active role in the development of these agreements, and its intervention is often focused on the respect of human rights.

The agreements are adopted following the assent procedure and allow the EP to (threaten to) use its veto power when human rights concerns arise during the negotiations. This happened for instance in the process which led to the Association Agreement with Turkey, where the EP denied its assent due to the human rights issue in that country and to the conditions of the Kurdish minority.13 Indeed, Turkey represents a rather peculiar case since it applied for membership as early as 1987.

This explains why the EP has so closely monitored its internal situation and acted consequently. In 1994, for instance, the discrimination against the Kurds and the denial of the Armenian genocide, 14 led the EP to suspend for 2 years the relevant joint parliamentary conference.

The European Parliament’s concern for the respect of human rights does not vary when it comes to other international partners. For example, during the procedure for the conclusion of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Syria, the EP gave its assent but not before underlining, in a (previous) resolution addressed to the Council, the need to respect democratic values, human rights, and civil liberties. In particular, based on the Véronique De Keyser (PSE) Report, the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs called upon the Council to ask the Syrian Government to comply with international human rights standards and to report on the progress regarding the respect of religious rights and other minority rights, namely those of the Kurds.15

Although in the negotiation of other international agreements the EP does not have an equivalent power,16 it is still capable of influencing the decision making process, especially when there is a potential violation of human rights. In 2004 the Parliament opposed the Council decision to conclude the EU/US Agreement on the processing and transfer of passengersname records (PNR) 17 and asked an Opinion from the Court of Justice on its compatibility with the Treaties, claiming a breach of the right to privacy. 18 Failure to protect personal data was after all one of the grounds upon which the EP sought the annulment of Council Decision 2004/496/EC, of 17 May 2004, on the conclusion of this agreement.19

The European Parliament had also an important role in the development of the conditionality clause. In fact, in 1978 it pushed for the inclusion of a Human Rights clause in the agreements with the African, Caribbean, and PacificStates. After this precedent the EP pressed for a generalisation of the clause to all the international agreements and in 1995 it successfully requested the Council to include a (compulsory) human rights clause in all the international agreements concluded by the Community. Thus, it can be said that the EP plays an active role in the protection of human rights notably influencing the decision making process of international agreements.

The role of the EP in the field of external relations is not confine to its involvement in the conclusion of international agreements. Suffice it here to recall its contribution to the current formulation of EC Regulation No 1889/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide.20 On this occasion, the Institution carried out an intensive effort that culminated in the ‘adjustment’ of the objectives and scope of the envisaged measure.

The aim was to enhance its efficiency (i.e. capability to respond to critical situations) and effectiveness (e.g. providing for the support of non-state actors promoting democracy and human rights). In this respect it should also be noted that during the procedure the EP insisted on the need to adopt further measures for the protection and promotion of human rights.21 In addition, the EP often acts on the international scene publicly deploring human rights violations. Resolutions are commonly used for this purpose.

Their adoption follows extensive public hearings where the deputies are provided with information and expert assessments on the basis of which they can debate and elaborate an opinion.22 As is clear from the reactions by politicians and embassies of the ‘accused’ countries, these resolutions can have a strong political impact23 despite their non-binding nature.24

This allows the EP to play an important proactive role on the international scene even in cases where it has no formal competence. For example, the 2002 Resolution on the EU Strategy towards China - where the EP expressed its concern for the respect of human rights in that country, as well as for the Chinese policy with regard to Tibet25 - triggered a harsh reaction on the part of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s Peoples Congress which qualified the position adopted by the EP as ‘extremely erroneous’. Moreover, the Chinese Central Government considered the demand for further cooperation between China and the European Union on international and regionalissues such as Taiwan as a violation of the “EU’s solemn commitment to one-China policy” and an undue interference in China’s internal affairs’.26

Finally, the role of the EP’s delegations should not be underestimated as they interact with other regional or interparliamentary assemblies, participate in joint assembly in the context of an association agreement, and develop parliamentary relations. In particular, delegations are in charge of the maintenance and the development of the Parliament’s international relations.

To this end, they work to maintain and enhance the relations with Parliaments of States that are traditionally partners of the European Union and contribute to promoting in third countries the values on which the European Union is founded, namely the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.27 At present there are 35 delegations, which can by and large be divided in two categories:

(a) The interparliamentary delegations, whose task is to maintain relations with the parliaments of countries outside the European Union that have not applied for membership;

(b) The joint parliamentary committees, which maintain contacts with the parliaments of countries that are candidates for accession to the European Union and States parties to association agreements. Furthermore, the EP has 5 Multilateral Assemblies, which bring together deputies of the EP and parliamentarians from African, Caribbean, and PacificStates (ACP-EU JPA), the Mediterranean (EMPA), Latin America (EUROLAT), EU’s eastern neighbouring countries (EURONEST), and NATO countries.28

 

The Action of the European Parliament in the Field of Fundamental Rights: The “Internal

Dimension”

 

The concern for fundamental rights is not limited to the EU’s external relations. As already mentioned the EP prepares annual reports on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and adopts resolutions in specific areas such as citizenship and discrimination. This has enabled it to play a more proactive role in the internal evolution of the EU legal order. Following the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Community was entitled to take the appropriate actions to combat any kind of discrimination, 29 to regulate delicate issues such as asylum, refugees and immigration, and to sanction Member States responsible for serious and persistent violations of humanrights.30 By virtue of these new competences, the Council started to prepare Annual Reports on Human Rights replacing the former memorandum on the Union’s activity in this domain.

 These reports were submitted to the Parliament, which in turn started preparing its own Report on Human Rights in the Union.31 Indeed, the EP has drafted an annual report on fundamental rights in the Union since the early Nineties.32 Following the suggestion expressed in a 1991 resolution,33 where it concluded that monitoring the state of human rights in third countries was in itself insufficient, in 1993 the EP adopted its first report on the situation of human rights within the EU.34 With the adoption of the Charter in 2000,35 the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs decided to elaborate a Report based on the rights enshrined in the new document, and consequently abandoned the general reference to “human rights”.

More precisely, this parliamentary Committee is involved in the protection of citizens’ rights, human rights and fundamental rights within the territory of the Union, including the protection of minorities, as laid down in the Treaties and in the CFR. The committee is also responsible for the adoption of measures aimed at combating all forms of discrimination, ensuring transparency and the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data, guaranteeing the free movement of persons, regulating asylum and migration, managing the judicial and administrative cooperation in civil matters and the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Last but not least, the Committee plays an important role in the determining the risk of a serious breach (by a Member State) of the principles common to the Member States.36 That being said, the report prepared by the LIBE Committee is intended to offer an overview of the concrete activity carried out by the European Union in order to guarantee compliance with the standards set out in the CFR. This instrument enables the EP to perform a critical analysis of the protection of fundamental rights in the different Members States and to suggest possible courses of action to remedy the deficient situations singled out therein.37Indeed, since its adoption the Charter has been used as a parameter of legality of EU acts. In fact, following its solemn proclamation the President of the EP declared that the Charter would become the law guiding the actions of the Assembly and would be the inescapable point of reference for all acts with a direct or indirect impact on the lives of citizens throughout the Union.38 On its part, the Commission accepted to act in accordance with the Charter39 and, in 2005, decided to go further issuing a specific notice on the methodology for systematic and rigorous monitoring of all legislative proposals in order to guarantee the respect of fundamental rights.40

The EP welcomed the proposal and insisted on the opportunity to extend this procedure to the entire legislative process and to the Comitology mechanism.41 Again, this reveals a high prioritization of fundamentals rights protection within the European Union.42 This approach is also reflected in the former Rules of Procedure of the EP (6th parliamentary term). Art. 34, in fact, stated that the Parliament should pay particular attention in ensuring that legislative acts comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and the rule of law.43

The new Rule of Procedure (7th parliamentary term), edited in accordance withthe new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, goes further and Art. 36 states that Parliament shall in all its activities fully respect fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and also the rights and principles enshrined in Art. 2 and in Art. 6(2) and (3) TEU. Furthermore, the provision foresees that where the competent committee, a political group of at least 40 members, are of the opinion that a proposal for a legislative act does not comply with rights enshrined in the Charter, the matter shall, at their request, be referred to the committee responsible for the interpretation of the latter. The last part of this provision, whereby the EP could delay the adoption of the act, clearly shows the concern of the Parliament for fundamental rights protection particularly within the EU law making process. But the powers of control assigned to the EP are not confined to the elaboration of legislative acts. On the contrary, over the years this institution has been progressively recognized (unfettered) standing in actions for annulment,44 a prerogative which it exercises when fundamental rights issues arise.

The PNR case offers a good example of the Institution’s activism in this field. In 2004, acting under the 1999 Comitology procedure, 45 it adopted a resolution in which it expressed a number of reservations of a legal nature on the approach followed by the Commission in order to provide adequate protection of personal data contained in the Passenger Name Record. In particular, the EP considered that the draft decision exceeded the powers conferred on the Commission and expressed doubts as to its compatibility with fundamental rights. Despite the Parliament’s reservations, the decision was adopted.46

Hence, the EP brought an action for annulment against that measure claiming, inter alia, the breach of the right to private life and of the right to protection of personal data laid down in Art. 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereafter, ECHR), as applied by the Court of Justice and by the European Court of Human Rights.47

Although the ECJ refused to carry out a fundamental rights reasoning, it nonetheless decided to annul the decision. Another interesting example is offered by the 2006 European Parliament v. Council of the EU case,48 where the Parliament sought theannulment of some Articles of the Council Directive 2003/86/EC49 arguing that the contested provisions did not respect fundamental rights and in particular the right to family life and the right to non-discrimination.

To support its arguments, the EP invoked the ECHR, the constitutional traditions common to the MemberStates and the Charter of Fundamental Rights50 (Arts. 7 and 21). Although it dismissed the action, the ECJ recognised that: While the Charter is not a legally binding instrument, the Community legislature did, however, acknowledge its importance by stating, in the second recital in the preamble to the Directive, that the Directive observes the principles recognized not only by Article 8 of the ECHR but also in the Charter.

Furthermore, the principal aim of the Charter, as is apparent from its preamble, is to reaffirm ‘rights as they result, in particular, from the constitutional traditions and international obligations common to the Member States, the Treaty on European Union, the Community Treaties, the [ECHR], the Social Charters adopted by the Community and by the Council of Europe and the case-law of the Court . . . and of the European Court of Human Rights.51

Therefore, it may be argued that the EP, insisting on the need to respect fundamental rights within the European Union, acts as a sort of ‘European conscience’ with respect to the internal dimension of EU law, as well as to EU external relations.52 The vision of the EP, as the institution representing EU citizens, as a ‘champion of EU values’,53 can thus be fully endorsed.

The active role played by the EP can also be appreciated by acknowledging its activism vis-à-vis the petitions received from ordinary citizens. The possibility to react to a specific request on the part of individuals was firstly recognized by the 1952 Rules of Procedure but was included in the Treaty only after Maastricht. Art. 24 (2) TFEU (former Art. 21 TEC) now provides that: ‘Every citizen of the Union shall have the right to petition the European Parliament’. As one of the rights inextricably linked to European citizenship (but extended to all persons residing and allundertakings having their legal seat in the Community), it is also enshrined in Art. 44 CFR.54

Although frequently underestimated, petitions allow the EP to appreciate the sensitivity of individuals, legal and natural persons, for certain European matters thereby stimulating a direct and open dialogue between the citizens and the institution through calls for action or simple expressions of interest.55 In addition, they offer private parties the possibility to single out possible inconsistencies of EU legislation, including the non-compliance with fundamental rights.

Petitions may also favour the identification of breaches of EU law by the Member States and allow the EP to pressure the national governments to put an end to the violation without having recourse to the infringement procedure. Of course, this does not prevent the case to be handled by the Commission under Art. 258 TFEU (former Art. 226 TEC), but sometimes the analysis of the petitions by the competent committee can contribute to a modification of the contested situation avoiding further legal action.

For example, in 1992 an unemployed French citizen living in Belgium submitted a petition to the EP claiming that he had been refused employment at a public office in the BelgianMunicipality of Uccle because the position was reserved to nationals pursuant to a law of 1937. Pressures by the EP Petition Committee (backed by the Commission) led to the amendment of the relevant domestic provisions.

About one-third of the infringement procedures are related to issues submitted by petitioners to the European Parliament.56 This is particularly important in a system where the right of individuals to bring an action directly before the European courts against measures with a general scope of application is limited. In this sense, the right of petition, coupled with the right to address complaints to the European Ombudsman, tends to (partially) compensate the shortcomings of Art. 263 (4) TFEU.57

For example, in 2001, following some petitions concerning the frequent expulsion of Italian citizens from Germany, the Commission brought an enforcement action against the latter Member State, accused of violating the freedom of movement of persons. In this case the ECJ held that the Federal Republic of Germany failed to fulfil its obligations under Art. 39TEC, Art. 3 of Directive 64/221 and Art. 10 of Directive 73/148.58 More recently, on the basis of two petitions by Polish and Lithuanian environmental associations that feared that a planned pipeline could harm the marine eco-system in the Baltic Sea, the EP adopted a resolution in which it expressed its concern about the impact of the pipeline project.59 The European Commission thus activated an infringement procedure against the Polish Republic concerning the incorrect application of Directives 79/409/EEC (Birds) and 92/43/EEC (Habitats).60

These examples show the active role played by the EP and the importance of the right of petition, which gives the Institution the possibility to signal breaches of citizen’s rights – including fundamental rights – by a MemberState.

 

6. F. Geyer, Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), A Synthesis of the former EP Resolutions in the field of Fundamental Rights, EP publication, 2007, Directorate-General Internal Policies Policy Department Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

7.See web site:

 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/homeCom.do?language=EN&body=DROI.

8.  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/homeCom.do?language=EN&body=LIBE

9. F. Geyer, n. 6 above.

10. The European Parliament has prepared annual reports on human rights since the late Nineties, thereby enhancing its proactive role. In many cases, the Reports are a response to the Council’s Annual Report on Human Rights in the World. See 2006 (2007/2020/INI) and 2007 (2007/2274/INI) EP Annual Report on Human Rights. As a matter of fact the EP is not involved in the drafting of the latter report and has been constantly demanding to be associated to the procedure for its elaboration.

11.Cf. Art. 49 TEU.

12.Cf. Arts. 217 and 218 (6) letter (a) TFEU (former Arts. 300 and 310 TEC).

13.[1998] OJ C 13/28.

14.EP Resolution of 18 June 1987, A2-33/8.

15.EP Resolution containing the European Parliament’s recommendation to the Council on the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, on the one side, and the Syrian Arab Republic, of the other, 2006/2150(INI).

16.With the exception of the agreements mentioned in Art. 218 (6) letter (a), TFEU, the European Parliament is required to deliver an opinion during the negotiation of an international agreement (Art. 218 (6) letter (b), TFEU).

17. Doc. PE, A5-0271/2004, 2004/0064(INI).

18. See Opinion 1/04 of the European Court of Justice. In particular, the European Parliament submitted to the ECJ the following questions: (a) is the first sentence of the first subparagraph of Art. 300(3) EC the appropriate legal basis for the Council Decision on the conclusion of the proposed agreement between the European Community and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record data by air carriers to the United States Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection? and (b) must the above mentioned proposed agreement be regarded as being compatible with the right to protection of personal data, as enshrined in particular in Art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which the Community is required to observe in the same way as the Treaty? The text of the Opinion can be found at the following address: http://www.curia.eu.

19. Case C-317/04 Parliament v. Council [2006] ECR I-4721. In particular, the European Parliament put forward four pleas in support of its action, namely: misuse of powers by the Commission, breach of the fundamental principles of Directive 95/46/EC, breach of fundamental rights and breach of the principle of proportionality.

20. [2006] OJ L 386/1.

21. In particular, during the first reading phase, the EP obtained an adjustment of the objectives and scope of the envisaged measures as well as modifications intended toguarantee a prompt response in case of sudden events. Most notably, it successfully proposed the introduction of a new Article providing for “ad hoc measures”, whereby the Commission would be entitled to allocate small grants on an ad hoc basis to human rights defenders responding to urgent protection needs. Furthermore, during the proceedings the responsible committee proposed a series of amendments designed to flesh out the various categories of action for which support would be provided through civil society, and also added new categories as “the promotion and defence of freedom of expression, including artistic and cultural expression, and the fight against censorship”. See the Summary of the EP position in first reading, COD/2006/0116, see:

 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TC+P6-TC1-COD-2006-0116+0+DOC+WORD+V0//EN.

22. Resolutions in this area are generally based on the EP Rules of procedure (7th parliamentary term, December 2009), notably: Art. 98 (resolutions on breaches of human

rights); Art. 110 (resolutions following Statements by the Commission, the Council and the European Council); Art. 115 (resolutions following questions for oral answer with debate); Art. 122 (resolutions following debates on cases concerning breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, also known as “urgent resolutions”). See Beyond Activism, The impact of the resolutions and other activities of the European Parliament in the field of human rights outside the European Union (EUIC, 2006), 105. Moreover, it should not go unnoticed that the MEPs can acquire information from a particular person on a specific issue.

23. Beyond Activism, n. 22 above, at 91.

24. Case T-346/03 Krikorian [2003] ECR II-6037. In this instance the Court affirmed: “It suffices to point out that the 1987 resolution is a document containing declarations of a purely political nature, which may be amended by the Parliament at any time. It cannot therefore have binding legal consequences for its author nor, a fortiori, for the other defendant institutions. 20. That conclusion also suffices to dispose of the argument that the 1987 resolution could have given rise to a legitimate expectation, on the part of the applicants, that the institutions would comply with that resolution” (paras 19–20).

25. EP resolution on the Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on an EU Strategy towards China: Implementation of the 1998 Communication and future steps for a more effective EU policy– 2001/2045(COS), points 36 and 46.

26. Statement by NPC Foreign Affairs Committee on Report on Commission Communication on Europe and Asia: A Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships Passed by European Parliament (2002.09.09).  http://www.china-un.ch/eng

27.See Arts. 2, 6 and 11(1), 5th indent, TEU.

28. See web site:

 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?id=45&pageRank=6&language=EN.

29.See Art. 19 TFEU (former Art.13 TEC, introduced by Art. 2 (7) of the ToA).

30. See Art. 7 TEU.

31.See, for example, the Report on Human Rights in the Union released in 1999, [2000]

OJ C 377/344.

32.F. Benoit-Rhomer, n. 1 above, at 19.

33.[1991] OJ C 240/45.

34.[1993] OJ C 115/115.

35.[2000] OJ C 364/1.

36.For a detailed list of the competences of the LIBE Committee, see:

 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/committeesList.do?language=EN

37.As F. Sylla, rapporteur of the 2002 resolution, noted : “this report constitutes a valuable point of reference for elaborating and implementing EU policies. It is also an openmethod of coordination which highlights good practices in the Member States and makes it possible to draw a comparison between initiatives and ensure compatibility between them. It provides a means of allowing and supporting the establishment of the prevention mechanism under Art. 7 of the Treaty on European Union. It should also contribute to publicising and sharing the European Parliament’s commitment in this specific area and, lastly, it promotes transparency and facilitates dialogue with civil society”. EP Report on the situation concerning fundamental rights in the European Union (2002) 2002/2013/INI, OJ C 76 E of 25 March 2004, p. 245.

38. These are the words of the former President of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, on 7 December 2000 in Nice, during the official proclamation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union by the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the European Union.

39.SEC(2001) 380/3.

40.COM(2005)0172.

41. EP resolution of 15 March 2007 on compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Commission’s legislative proposals: methodology for systematic and rigorous monitoring, 2005/2169(INI).

42.A. Williams, ‘Respecting Fundamental Rights in the New Union: A Review’, The Fundamentals of EU Law Revisited: Assessing the Impact of the Constitutional Debate (Oxford University Press, 2007) 71.

43. Art. 34 of the EP Rule of Procedure, Examination of respect for fundamental rights, the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, the rule of law, and financial implications: “During the examination of a legislative proposal, Parliament shall pay particular attention to respect for fundamental rights and in particular that the legislative act is in conformity with the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and the rule of law. In addition, where a proposal has financial implications, Parliament shall establish whether sufficient financial resources are provided”.

44. See R. Corbett, F. Jacobs and M. Shacklethon, The European Parliament (John Harper, 2007) at 300; L. Daniele, ‘Parlamento europeo e Corte di giustizia: chi la dura la vince?’(1991) Foro Italiano 1.

45. Art. 8 of the Council Decision of 28 June 1999, 1999/468/EC [1999] OJ L 184/23.

46. Commission Decision 2004/535/EC of 14 May 2004 on the adequate protection of personal data contained in the Passenger Name Record of air passengers transferred to the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection [2004] OJ L 235/11.

47. On the protection of personal data in the former third pillar and the impact of the Lisbon Treaty in this field see in this volume V. Bazzocchi, “Chapter 10”.

48. Case C-540/03 Parliament v. Council of the European Union [2006] ECR I- 5769. (79-100-341)

49. Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification [2003] OJ L 251/12. In particular, the Parliament contested the final subparagraph of Art. 4(1), Art. 4(6) and Art. 8 of the Council Directive.

50. In particular, reference was made to Arts. 7 (non-discrimination) and 21 (right to privacy) CFR.

51.Case C-540/03 Parliament v.Council, n. 48 above, para 38.

52. This assumption finds further confirmation in a number of events patronized by the European Parliament. Amongst the latter, the yearly conferral of the Sacharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is noteworthy. Since 1998 this prize is awarded to individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Despite its merely symbolic value, the event can nonetheless give international visibility to the candidates and most importantly to the causes they embraced. See also, Beyond Activism, n. 22 above.

53. F. Benoit-Rhomer, n. 1 above.

54. See also Art. 227 TFEU (former Art. 194 TEC).

55. The European Parliament has always made use of petitions as a way of gathering privileged information and use it to exercise its political monitoring powers, with a particular focus on serious infringements of Community law, while at the same time giving citizens a chance to express their day-to-day expectations or fears concerning Europe. See EP Resolution on the deliberations of the Committee on Petitions during the parliamentary year 2002–2003, 2003/2069(INI).

56. Report on the deliberations of the Committee on Petitions during the parliamentary year 2007, Doc. Ref. 2008/2028(INI).

57. But see in this volume G. Sanna, “Chapter 9.”

58. Case C-441/02 Commission v. Germany [2004] ECR I-3449.

59. 2007/2118/INI.

60. Case C-193/07 Commission v. Poland Republic, withdrawn.

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