EU Fundamental Rights: A Long Way to Go
The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) is a step in the right direction but today's human rights challenges in Europe call for a much stronger mechanism, says Amnesty International on day of the opening of the new Agency in Vienna. (To access the Amnesty International "speech" click here)
The "Fundamental Rights Agency", despite its name, is a missed opportunity. The reluctance of member states to address human rights at home, fully exposed during the discussions over the Agency’s scope of action, resulted in a minimalist mandate that contrasts sharply with the serious scale and nature of human rights problems in the EU.
In Vienna to attend the opening ceremony of the FRA, Amnesty International’s EU Office Director, Dick Oosting, recalled the tone that dominated the negotiations:
"Such was the desire not to offend anyone that at times it felt as if the Agency was being created to protect member states instead of holding them to account", said Dick Oosting.
Amnesty International looks forward to supporting the FRA’s work in the important area of racism and discrimination – the only major European human rights issue that it can effectively address. It is a crucial area considering how it cuts across and exacerbates other forms of abuse.
As a leading human rights organisation however, Amnesty International deeply regrets that the FRA will be effectively cut off from all other key areas essential for people in Europe and for the EU’s credibility in the world:
Asylum and immigration
Violence against women
Trafficking in human beings
While all these issues remain unaddressed, Amnesty International calls on the EU to engage with the Council of Europe to develop a vision on how to forge a comprehensive "European human rights system".
"The Fundamental Rights Agency will only be able to protect human rights in Europe if there is a serious effort to develop a coherent protection system with effective accountability", said Dick Oosting.