- FOCUS ON THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS FORUM
- Europe’s human rights crisis surmountable, say participants at key conference to find ways forward
- Getting down to business: Making growth sustainable and rights compliant
- Less talk more action needed grant power to the people
- Calling for stronger human rights commitments from governments
- Climate of fear undermines EU’s fundamental values
- FRF hackathon: and the winner is… Franny, the fundamental rights bot
- WHAT’S NEW
- New practical guide on access to justice in European law
- French authorities discuss FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016
- FRA Director prepares for future Maltese Presidency of EU Council
- Towards even closer cooperation with Italy
- Child rights matter: Why Europe needs to invest in children
- FEEDBACK FROM RECENT ACTIVITIES
- EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies meet to discuss joint training needs
- Human Rights Education network holds annual conference
1. FOCUS ON THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS FORUM
Suggestions to help tackle Europe’s pressing human rights crisis were captured at the Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna. Over 700 leading experts from around the world contributed to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights’ event. All the 100+ practical ideas that were generated are being distilled in the Forum Chair’s Statement.
Creating a rights respectful society requires broad participation and diverse voices. This was the central idea emphasised by FRA’s Director, Michael O’Flaherty, on the final day of the Fundamental Rights Forum. To achieve this, he stressed the need to bring together duty bearers and right holders, who we heard from on earlier days during the Forum, and inject the voice of business, if we want to be truly sustainable.
c. Less talk more action needed grant power to the people (please find under „Day 3 – 22 June”)
There is a tremendous desire and will to make a difference to the lives of everyone across Europe with applied, practical and solid solutions. This was the sense FRA’s Director and Fundamental Rights Forum Chair had picked up so far from the Forum as he opened day three. But he also felt that many were tired of all the talking; it is now time to act and deliver to truly empower rights holders, the focus of the day.
d. Calling for stronger human rights commitments from governments (please find under „Day 2 – 21 June”)
A sense of gloom has settled over the EU’s fundamental rights community. Fundamental rights are under-resourced, often disregarded by States, not enforced in practice, awareness is low and they are being marginalised not mainstreamed in discussions. But despite all this there is a highly sophisticated fundamental rights promotion and protection system in place in Europe. These were the opening words of FRA Director, Michael O’Flaherty, during the second day of FRA’s Fundamental Rights Forum. It was therefore a logical place, he said, to focus discussions throughout the day on how governance can best contribute to reawakening the Europe of values.
e. Climate of fear undermines EU’s fundamental values (please find under „Day 1 – 20 June”)
A growing sense of insecurity and fear is undermining the EU’s core values that safeguard fundamental rights. This was the view of Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s First Vice-President, during the official opening of FRA’s Fundamental Rights Forum 2016 in Vienna on 20 June. He spoke of the insecurity and fear that a growing number of citizens feel: “Fear of exclusion, fear of loss. Fear for their children’s future. And fear of the other, of the unknown.” As a result people feel threatened. This is fuelling rising intolerance and xenophobia which is why he believes more than ever that we must fight to upload the EU’s fundamental values in order to protect every individual in society.
The results of the #RightsHack hackathon were presented on 22 June during FRA’s Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna. The aim of the hackathon, organised by the Dutch Embassy in Vienna, FRA and Impact Hub Vienna, was to seek innovative digital solutions to some of the key fundamental rights issues of the day. The overwhelming winner with around half the votes, was Franny, the Fundamental Rights bot. As the winning team explained, they realised that on Monday, World Refugee Day, people were sharing negative thoughts on social media including hashtags such as #NoRefugees and similar. But to respond individually is impossible given the huge volume of tweets. That’s where Franny comes in – it automatically recognises such negative hashtags and can respond with the relevant Charter Articles or give examples of good practices, as well as offer a virtual hug and a cup of tea. You can follow @bot_franny on Twitter.
2. WHAT’S NEW
On 22 June, FRA and the European Court of Human Rights launch a practical handbook on European law relating to access to justice. The Handbook on European law relating to access to justice is a comprehensive guide to European law in this area. It seeks to raise awareness and improve knowledge of relevant standards set by the European Union and the Council of Europe, particularly through the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Human Rights.
b. French authorities discuss FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016
On 27 June in Paris, FRA will present the key findings of its Fundamental Rights Report 2016 to French authorities. Representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior as well as representatives of the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme (CNCDH) and Institut Français des Droits et Libertés (IFGL) will attend the event. The workshop is organised by the international and European affairs service of the Ministry of Justice aiming at raising the visibility and awareness of the FRA Fundamental Rights Report at national level. (Contact: Michail Beis).
c. FRA Director prepares for future Maltese Presidency of EU Council
FRA’s Director will visit Malta on 30 June to 1 July to focus on the upcoming Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU. While there he will give a public address at the Maltese Parliament and visit the European Asylum Support Office, EASO. The Director will also meet with ministers and the Speaker of the Maltese Parliament, as well as organisations that work closely with FRA (Contact: John Kellock).
d. Towards even closer cooperation with Italy
From 4 to 5 July, the FRA Director will visit Italy to follow up on issues raised during previous visits. The visit will include meetings with ministers, the Italian President of the Chamber of Deputies, the Italian National Anti-discrimination body, and organisations working closely with FRA. While there, he will give a presentation of FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016 and take part in a public event, co-organised with the European Commission’s Representation in Rome (Contact: John Kellock).
e. Child rights matter: Why Europe needs to invest in children
On 7 July in Brussels, FRA will take part in Eurochild’s conference that will take stock of implementing the 2013 Commission Recommendation on Investing in Children. The conference aims to reflect on opportunities presented by the proposal for an EU Pillar of Social Rights, the review of the EU’s multi-annual financial framework and social policy cooperation among EU member states. The conference is being organised under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen of Belgium and under the auspices of the Slovak Presidency in the Council of the EU. Around one third of participants are expected to be under 18 years. A children’s advisory group is working on the programme, and children are invited to contribute as co-chairs, co-facilitators and speakers (Contact: Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos).
3. FEEDBACK FROM RECENT ACTIVITIES
a. EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies meet to discuss joint training needs
FRA hosted a meeting of training coordinators of EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies on 14 June in Vienna to discuss joint training initiatives of the agencies in the area of freedom, security and justice. Representatives from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO, the EU Border agency (Frontex), the European External Action Service, the European Agency for managing large-scale justice and home affairs IT systems (eu-LISA), the European Police College (CEPOL), the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and Europol participated. The European Judicial Training Network also participated to jointly assess areas of possible cooperation with the agencies. A main focus of the meeting was how the agencies can cooperate further to best meet the emerging training needs in relation to the current migration crisis. The agencies will continue to strengthen cooperation in the area of training, especially in the areas and countries where it is currently most needed; for example in the migration hotspots in Greece and Italy (Contact: Alice Hamilton).
b. Human Rights Education network holds annual conference
On 16-17 June, FRA took part in the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) Network Annual Conference 2016. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the methodological dimension of the HELP Programme. It also offered possibilities to exchange information on best practices for a coherent and harmonised application of case law from the European Court of Human Rights by national courts, and to identify related training needs and cooperation possibilities. During the conference, the HELP Guidebook on human rights training methodology for legal professionals was also presented (Contact: Pia Tirronen).