Charter of Fundamental Rights Marks Coming of Age for EU As a Political Community

But EU is a work in progress and, having been done with the tasks of border control and economic integration, it is time to move on to the more difficult areas, which assume social and political dimensions. These include home affairs, immigration, defense – and human rights. European states are regularly mentioned in the annual report of Amnesty International for human rights violations, although there is supposed to be a European Convention on Human Rights that regulates and controls these unwanted activities. This area of concern was the focus of attention at the EU Summit in June 1999, in which it was later decided that a new, more enforceable regional law on human rights is necessary to cap the Union’s transformation from an economic organization to a political entity.
When the EU members were collectively known as the Little Europe, the focus of attention were coal and steel and, later, the Common Market. This contributed immensely to the region’s economic stability into the 1960s. As Menendez (2001) observed: "The Coal and Steel Community was a modest step but one that provided reassurance to economic actors and thus established the foundations for sustained economic recovery. There is thus a basis to argue that European integration contributed indirectly to the extensive protection of socio-economic rights within welfare states."
That EU was more That EU was more preoccupied with socio-economic than political concerns at the start may be gleaned from the text of the original treaties establishing the European communities, which made only passing references to fundamental rights. This can be found only in the EC Treaty, specifically its Preamble, which acknowledges the organization’s commitment "to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty." Article 119 of the Treaty also sets the principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women. . Even the subsequent Paris and Rome Treaties gave the same passing attention to fundamental rights and instead concentrated on integration and how to deal with economic issues. By thus omitting to articulate the tenets of fundamental rights, EC appeared to be emphasizing the nature of the organization.
The limited reference to rights in the primary law of the Communities seems to be a fact beyond dispute. However, this should not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the then Little Europe was not about "rights." As Menendez (2001) saw it, rights remained one of the main goals of the project, if not the main one. On the drive for integration, for example, the actual path set for European integration implied an option for a different strategy of ensuring the protection of human rights. The preconditions for the protection of civic, social and political rights in Europe were established based on the region’s unique historical and socio-economic context. This came about after the European Court of Justice reconsidered its earlier position that the basic rights and freedoms in EU member states ought to be protected by national constitutions. In 1969 Stauderl (19), the ECJ cited the general though unwritten principle of fundamental rights protection as a basic foundation of Community law. This shift in EU jurisprudence was further articulated in Internationale (20), when the Court restated that