EU charter: its nature, innovative character and horizontal effect


  • Tanel Kerikmäe Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia



human rights, European Union standards, European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, Court of Justice of European Union, horizontal effect doctrine, European Court of Human Rights, Private Law Approach


The author offers a description of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights as innovative dynamic instrument which is necessary and useful in the process of modelling the future of the protection of fundamental rights by the Union. He concludes that the Charter will influence the whole acquis communautaire. The extent of this impact is still somewhat unpredictable. Much depends on the political direction Europe is taking and the boldness of European judges in both Member States and the CJEU. Potentially, it can be used as a powerful tool to strengthen EU influence in the social sphere (strikes, collective bargaining, working conditions, etc.).

The article also substantiates that the Charter applies to the activities of the EU institutions, but the extent to which it also applies to Member States, when implementing EU law, is unclear. The distinction will be a difficult one, taking into account the fact that most areas are regulated by both the EU and national legislation and it is sometimes complicated to distinguish one from another. The question of the EU turning into a rights-based union then has to do with the status of principles and values, namely, «are some of them turned into basic rights – protecting human rights and democratic procedures unconditionally?» Therefore, whether the Charter will open a new era in the development of the EU from limited economic cooperation to a full political, economic, and social union remains unclear. Future practice and, undoubtedly, emerging case law of the CJEU will provide more answers.

Author Biography

Tanel Kerikmäe, Tallinn University of Technology

Prof., PhD,

Director of Tallinn Law School


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How to Cite

Kerikmäe, T. (2017). EU charter: its nature, innovative character and horizontal effect. Problems of Legality, (137), 168–181.



International law