Skip to main content
European Commission logo
Migration and Home Affairs

fundamental rights

Definition(s)

Universal legal guarantees without which individuals and groups cannot secure their fundamental freedoms and human dignity and which apply equally to every human being regardless of nationality, place of residence, sex , national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status as per the legal system of a country without any conditions.

Source(s)

Derived by EMN from the

Translations

  • BG: основни права
  • CS: základní práva
  • DE: Grundrechte
  • EL: θεμελιώδη δικαιώματα
  • EN: fundamental rights
  • ES: Derechos fundamentales
  • ET: põhiõigused
  • FI: perusoikeudet
  • FR: droits fondamentaux
  • GA: Cearta bunúsacha
  • HU: alapvető jogok
  • IT: diritti fondamentali
  • LT: pagrindinės teisės
  • LV: pamattiesības
  • MT: drittijiet fundamentali
  • NL: fundamentele rechten
  • PT: direitos fundamentais
  • SK: základné práva
  • SL: temeljne pravice
  • SV: grundläggande rättigheter
  • NO: grunnleggende rettigheter (b); grunnleggande rettar (n)

Related Term(s)

Note(s)

1. Fundamental rights permit people to develop their full potential and their fundamental mental, psychological, intellectual and physical capacity. Fundamental rights define what individuals or groups of people are entitled to and describe the limitations a state may impose to intrude on those entitlements. Some rights are absolute and others non-derogable, while some rights are qualified.
2. An absolute right is a right that cannot be limited or in-fringed under any circumstances, not even during a declared state of emergency. Art. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Art. 2 of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) are absolute rights that cannot be limited for any reason.
3. Non-derogable rights may be either absolute or non-absolute. While non-derogable rights cannot be suspended, some non-derogable rights provide for limitations in their ordinary application, such as the right to marry and found a family in Art. 12 of the ECHR, and the right to liberty and security in Art. 5 of the ECHR, which can be limited in the circumstances defined in the Convention itself.
4. Qualified rights are rights that permit interferences subject to various conditions. For example, the right to respect for private and family life (Art. 8 of the ECHR) and the right to freedom of expression (Art. 10 of the ECHR) allow interfer-ence, but such interferences must be in accordance with the law and necessary in a democratic state for the requirements of public order, public health or morals, national security or public safety.
5. There are many crossovers between human rights and fundamental rights. According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) , both fundamental rights and human rights entitle individuals to expect and to receive certain levels of treatment. Both terms essentially refer to the same content and are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference: the term ‘fundamental rights’ is specifically used in national constitutions of EU Member States, whereas the term ‘human rights’ is used in international law. Nevertheless, the links between the two notions can be seen in the similarities between the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the ECHR and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
6. In the European Union, fundamental rights are guaranteed nationally by the constitutions of the EU Member States and at EU level by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union . The personal scope of application of the Charter is potentially very broad: most of the rights it recognises are granted to ‘everyone’, regardless of nationality or status. However, some rights are only granted to citizens (in particular, most of the rights listed in Title V), while others are rather relevant for non-EU nationals (for instance, the right to asylum) or for specific categories of persons (such as workers). For further information see European Parliament: Respect for fundamental rights in the European Union
7. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is the EU’s centre of fundamental rights expertise which helps to ensure that the fundamental rights of people living in the EU are protected. For further information see Website of FRA