Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union vs European Convention on Human Rights

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) are two cornerstone instruments for the protection of human rights in Europe, but they serve different purposes within different legal frameworks. Here is a comparison to highlight their main features, differences, and how they interact with each other:

Origin and Development

ECHR: Established in 1950 by the Council of Europe, a broader organisation than the EU, with 47 member states. It aims to protect human rights, democracy, and the rule of law across the continent.

CFR: Proclaimed in 2000 and became legally binding on EU countries with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. It consolidates and reinforces the range of rights derived from the constitutional traditions and international obligations common to the EU Member States, the European Convention on Human Rights, and other EU laws and policies.

Scope and Application

ECHR: Applies to all member states of the Council of Europe, including those not in the EU. It focuses on civil and political rights but has been dynamically interpreted to cover a broad range of issues.

CFR: Applies only to EU institutions and bodies and to Member States when they are implementing EU law. It covers a wider array of rights, including civil, political, economic, and social rights.

Legal Nature and Enforcement

ECHR: Creates obligations for its signatories to respect the human rights set out in the Convention. Individuals can bring cases against states to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated. Judgments by the Court are binding on the countries concerned.

CFR: Has the same legal value as the EU treaties. While there is no specific court for the CFR, its provisions are enforced by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. The CFR must be respected by EU institutions and by Member States when they apply EU law.

Rights Covered

ECHR: Focuses primarily on civil and political rights but has been expanded through additional protocols and the Court's jurisprudence to include some economic and social rights.

CFR: Encompasses a broader spectrum of rights, including dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity (which covers economic and social rights), citizens' rights, and justice. It also explicitly includes third-generation human rights, such as data protection and guarantees against genetic discrimination.

Relationship Between ECHR and CFR

ECHR: The EU has expressed its intention to accede to the ECHR, which would create a direct legal link between the two systems. However, this process has faced legal and practical challenges, and the EU has not yet acceded to the ECHR. Despite this, the CFR and the ECHR are not in competition; rather, they complement each other.

CFR: The CFR explicitly states that nothing in it should be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms recognised by the ECHR and other international human rights treaties. Furthermore, the CJEU often refers to the ECHR and the jurisprudence of the ECtHR in its rulings, demonstrating the influence of the ECHR on EU law and the protection of human rights within the EU.

In conclusion, while the ECHR and CFR operate within different legal frameworks and scopes, they both play crucial roles in the protection and promotion of human rights in Europe. Their coexistence enhances the legal protection available to individuals in Europe, offering multiple avenues for the enforcement of human rights.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham
ESSEC Business School

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.