Citizenship rights (non-discrimination, freedom of movement) and, since 2009, fundamental rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, can in certain circumstances be protected through national courts and through referral to the European Court of Justice.The private sector has been traditionally the main actor using EU law to enforce rules through the courts. However activists and civil society can and should play an active role in the legal protection of citizen rights, both through supporting individuals and by bringing cases where allowed in national law.
There are also situations however where the laws in force at the European level do not provide adequate protection. In these situations, activists and civil society organisations can play an active role in pressing transnationally for alternatives – from a Copenhagen Commission to working with EU and Council of Europe bodies.
This session aims to provide participants with an understanding of what rights are enforceable, how civil society can act to support the protection of citizen rights using EU law, and what support exists to do this. It also looks to where legal protections are not enough and how civil society can push for stronger rights protection, as well as identifying areas where civil society can work strategically on this.