Briefing Paper

The Use of EU Law to Protect Civic Space

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The Use of EU Law to Protect Civic Space Download the 27-page document. 27 Pages, 743.81 Kb, PDF Download
Date
November 12, 2019

This briefing discusses the situations to which European Union (EU) law can apply and the legal arguments that may be made to both advance the work of civil society organisations, and to challenge national laws and government actions that threaten them. 

It aims to demonstrate the potential of EU law to be a powerful tool in defending civic space. In particular, EU law includes strong prohibitions of discrimination, and detailed protections in areas such as personal data and migration; and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights offers more, and more detailed, protections of certain rights than does the European Convention on Human Rights. National judges can invoke EU law directly to suspend and nullify national laws.

Even the lowest level of national courts and tribunals have these powers, and they also have the authority to refer questions of EU law to the Court of Justice of the European Union, leading to rulings that apply EU-wide.

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