Honourable Thomas von Danwitz, Judge in the Court of Justice of the European
Union, held a lecture about the application of Charter of Fundamental Rights. In
a nutshell, Mr. von Danwitz discussed the following.
The function of the Charter is not to bring about harmonization of the
systems of protection of fundamental rights of the Member States. This is a
fundamental difference between the Charter and the Convention. The Charter is
the exclusive tool of EU law ensuring the conformity of primary and secondary EU
law and its application with fundamental rights.
As far as the applicability ratione temporis is concerned, the Court has
examined the validity of those legislative acts in light of the Charter, that
entered into force before December 1st, 2009 and are still in effect after that
date, thereby implicitly assuming the applicability of the Charter to such acts.
This rationale also should apply to administrative acts that have permanent
effect, even if they have been issued prior to that date. To the contrary, in
principle, the applicability of the Charter should be denied in situations that
have become definitive in law before the Charter’s entry into force.
When it comes to a detailed interpretation of Article 51 (1) as such, it
seems that, in light of Article 52 (7) of the Charter, the most conclusive
support for the interpretation of Article 51 can and should be drawn from the
explanatory notes on that provision.
Its substantive meaning results from the interplay of the three lines of
jurisprudence cited therein, namely Wachauf, ERT and Annibaldi.
Concerning the distinction between "rights" and "principles" which are
explicitly introduced by the preamble and the second sentence of Article 51 (1)
of the Charter, the wording of the Charter does not characterize individual
articles as being constitutive of rights, principles or both. It seems clear
that they do not confer a subjective right that can be invoked by individuals.
The fact that the provisions mentioned above do not confer subjective rights
which can be invoked by individuals implies that they only have limited
In his final conclusions Mr. von Danwitz highlighted the role of the European
Court of Justice in laying the conceptual foundations for a uniform application
of fundamental rights in the European Union.