Infringement Proceedings as a Tool for the Enforcement of Fundamental Rights in the European Union

The potential of EU infringement proceedings as a human rights tool is underestimated. In this report commissioned by the Open Society European Policy Institute, Professor De Schutter provides recommendations on how infringement proceedings can become part and parcel of a fundamental rights policy of the European Union.

The report examines the process of infringement proceedings in law and practice and its place in the human rights architecture of the European Union, highlighting its added value compared to the political monitoring of fundamental rights under Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union, and referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union by national courts.

Professor De Schutter explores a number of new practices that could be introduced to strengthen the use of infringement proceedings as a fundamental rights enforcement tool, including the status of the complainant who brings an alleged violation of EU law to the attention of the Commission; the use by the Commission of sources of information other than individual complaints; and the incentives that the member states could be given to better comply with fundamental rights in the implementation of EU law.

At a time where EU powers to enforce fundamental rights are challenged, this report is an invitation to the European Commission to revisit its use of infringement proceedings.