European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: InFRA 6-13 March

Dear All,

1.   WHAT’S NEW

a)    Stakeholders discuss FRA’s second antisemitism survey

b)    Access to justice handbook presented during Spanish seminar

c)    Equality Bodies discuss discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities

d)    Italian Chamber of Deputies holds hearing on intolerance, xenophobia, racism and hate

e)    FRA’s Scientific Committee meets

f)    Delivering effective justice systems

g)    FRA Opinion to examine business, human rights and access to justice

2.   FEEDBACK FROM RECENT ACTIVITIES

a)    A decade of human rights protection: The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights turns 10

b)    Facing the challenges of migrant integration

c)    The European Police College visits FRA

d)    International conference looks at new approaches for social inclusion

e)    Europe’s human rights bodies forge even closer ties

f)    FRA explores emerging access to justice and migration issues with bar and law societies

g)    Combating discrimination for LGBTIQ workers

h)    Experts discuss rights, information systems and interoperability

 

Please find below the latest information.

1.   WHAT’S NEW

a.    Stakeholders discuss FRA’s second antisemitism survey

Stakeholders discuss the development of the Agency’s second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the selected EU Member States during a meeting at the Agency on 7 March. The survey aims at providing comparable data on experiences and perceptions of antisemitism, hate-motivated crime and discrimination among self-identified Jewish people. In consultation with the European Commission, survey experts, national and international Jewish community representatives and international organisations, the meeting will consult on the survey that should begin later this year. (Contact: Vida Beresneviciute)

b.    Access to justice handbook presented during Spanish seminar

The Agency will present the Spanish version of the handbook on access to justice during a seminar on European law relating to access to justice. The seminar will take place on 8 March in Madrid. It is being organised by the University of La Rioja. (Contact: Matylda Pogorzelska)

c.    Equality Bodies discuss discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities

Members of Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies, will gather in Zagreb on 9 and 10 March to discuss how best to tackle discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities. The seminar aims to build capacities by looking at how participants can address the challenges facing people with intellectual disabilities through their legal, policy and communication work. The Agency will give presentations during two sessions. The first will focus on the findings of its work on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. The second will explore specific issues concerning legal capacity. (Contact: Martha Stickings)

d.    Italian Chamber of Deputies holds hearing on intolerance, xenophobia, racism and hate

The Agency will speak about its hate crime work during a special committee hearing of the Italian Chamber of Deputies on 9 March. The committee was created to examine the causes and various forms of hate speech. To effectively address these issues, the committee has been holding hearings with representatives of relevant institutions, experts, associations and other stakeholders. The findings will then be summarised in a report, which will elaborate on concrete proposals to prevent and contrast hate phenomena at a social, cultural, informative and institutional level. The committee is made up of 10 members of the Chamber, one for each political group, representatives of the Council of Europe, the United Nations, Italy’s National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) as well as research centres, experts and associations engaged in awareness-raising activities in this area. (Contact: Niraj Nathwani)

e.    FRA’s Scientific Committee meets

FRA’s Scientific Committee will hold its next meeting on 10 March at the Agency. At this meeting, the FRA Director will update the Scientific Committee on recent developments. The Scientific Committee members will discuss FRA reports and events and have an exchange on current FRA research activities. Scientific Committee members will also discuss the relations between the Agency and the academic community as well as the FRA’s methodology in large-scale surveys. (Contact:Afsheen Siddiqi / Gabriel Toggenburg).

f.     Delivering effective justice systems

The President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), Nuria Díaz Abad, will discuss delivering effective justice systems with FRA’s Director on 17 March. The talks will range from issues like the rule of law to judicial independence, quality, efficiency and accountability. The European network brings together Judicial Councils in 20 EU Member States – councils that support and ensure the independent delivery of justice. (Contact: Jonas Grimheden)

g.    FRA Opinion to examine business, human rights and access to justice

The Agency is finalising its Opinion on enhancing access to justice when it comes to business and human rights that was requested by the EU Council. Business activities can have an impact on a range of fundamental rights. These include discrimination, privacy, workers’ rights, family life, as well as consumer rights or the rights related to environmental protection. If these rights have been violated, then victims need access to remedies. The Opinion aims to support the EU’s work related to business and human rights, by offering advice on how to lower the barriers for access to remedies in cases of fundamental rights abuse by businesses in or linked to the EU. It will be published on 10 April. (Contact: Jonas Grimheden)

 

2. FEEDBACK FROM RECENT ACTIVITIES

a.    FRA 10 years: Fundamental rights have come a long way but face grave threats

While it is important to mark the 10 year anniversary of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, there are real and growing threats to the achievements that have been made over the years. This was the prevailing mood among high-level speakers, such as Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová, during discussions at the anniversary event in Vienna on 28 February. They called for stronger voices and action building the case for rights-based approaches in everything we do.

b.    Facing the challenges of migrant integration

“Often [migrants] live and work in the shadows, denied their rights and vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and marginalisation,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty during the 3rd European Migration Forum in Brussels on 3 March. He outlined some of the shortcomings of existing integration policies across the EU, to guide the EU and its Member States as they refocus their integration efforts. (Contact: Miltos Pavlou)

c.    The European Police College visits FRA

On 3 March a delegation from the European Police College, CEPOL, visited the Agency. The objective of meeting was to review past cooperation and to exchange information on the state of affairs of some projects on both sides. For example, the Agency is offering between 10-12 online seminars per year to CEPOL’s audience on a series of topics highly relevant to law enforcement. It also reviews and provides recommendations to CEPOL’s annual work programmes. In addition, the Agency is feeding into CEPOL’s hate crime certification programme. (Contact: Aydan Iyigüngör)

d.    International conference looks at new approaches for social inclusion

The Agency spoke about gathering and analysing evidence to support policy making during an international conference on social inclusion in Cluj-Napoca, Romania from 1 to 2 March. It also gave a presentation on its Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion (LERI) project in a session on social housing policy, highlighting the LERI experiences in Aiud and Cluj-Napoca with interventions aimed at reducing housing insecurity and promoting access to social housing. The event brought together professionals and community members to discuss new approaches and strategies for social inclusion. The results of the Pata-Cluj project, carried out by the Intercommunity Development Association Cluj Metropolitan Area and financed by the Norway Grants, were also presented at the event. (Contact: Andrey Ivanov / Sheena Keller)

e.    Europe’s human rights bodies forge even closer ties

Europe network of equalities bodies, Equinet, and the European network of national human rights institutions, ENNHRI, came to the Agency on 27 February to take stock of previous joint work with a view to enhance its future strategic cooperation. The discussions were held between FRA’s Director, its operational Heads of Departments and the Heads of Equinet and ENNHRI. They led to the identification of intensified forms of collaboration between the institutions particularly on certain themes such as migration and communicating rights. (Contact: Thomas Schwarz)

f.     FRA explores emerging access to justice and migration issues with bar and law societies

Defence practitioners from the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) met with Agency experts on 24 February to discuss ongoing and emerging issues in the area of access to justice and migration. These included the need for future procedural safeguards in the area of criminal law, the ongoing discussion on fundamental rights guarantees in relation to establishing a European Public Prosecutor. Discussions also covered the challenges faced by lawyers present in the migration hotspots in Greece (Lesvos) when providing legal assistance to migrants requiring international protection, in particular at the first stage of the asylum process during which practical support and tailored advice has been missing. The CCBE brings together the national bars and law societies of 45 countries from across Europe. (Contact: Jana Gajdosova)

g.    Combating discrimination for LGBTIQ workers

Combating discrimination and strengthening the rights of LGBTIQ workers was the focus of a seminar organised by the European Trade Union Confederation and the European Trade union Institute. Access to justice was identified as one of the barriers faced by workers when faced with discrimination. During the event, the Agency presented its findings regarding the implementation of European antidiscrimination law related to LGBTI people, perceived discrimination and contributed to the discussion on ways to improve the situation. The seminar was held from 21 to 22 February in Brussels. (Contact: Patrycja Pogodzinska)

h.    Experts discuss rights, information systems and interoperability

The high-level expert group on information systems and interoperability met on 21 February in Brussels. Member States, EU institutions and agencies, such as FRA, took part in the meeting. The meeting allowed experts to give their views on an interim report prepared by the European Commission which should be finalised by June. The report covers interoperability related to creating a common repository of data, enabling single search interface and biometric matching. Experts underlined the crucial importance of data quality when IT-systems are interoperable. The Agency is contributing to the results by providing fundamental rights expertise and advice, based on its work on biometrics in large-scale IT-databases in the areas of asylum, borders and visa. (Contact: Ann-Charlotte Nygård)

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