Vice-President Franco Frattini, responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security said: “Fundamental rights are at the core of the European Union’s values. They are essential for the building of stable societies, based on well-functioning political institutions and efficient legal systems. Europe should be the guarantor of such values and should represent a point of reference, but when we say that we need to protect and promote fundamental rights, this cannot be only words. EU citizens require concrete actions. For that we need to build up appropriate structures and allocate resources to the fundamental rights work. This is what we are doing by establishing the Fundamental Rights Agency”.
The proposal follows the decision of the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the European Union, taken in December 2003, to extend the mandate of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, based in Vienna, by converting it into a Fundamental Rights Agency. The European Parliament has also called for the establishment of the Agency.
The Fundamental Rights Agency will be an independent centre of expertise on fundamental rights issues through data collection, analysis and networking, which currently does not exist at European Union level.
The Agency will advice the European Union Institutions and the Member States on how best to prepare or implement fundamental rights related European Union legislation. For example, when planning European Union policy or legislative measures to fight the trafficking in human beings, the Agency could provide the Institutions with the necessary data.
The transformation of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia into a Fundamental Rights Agency does not mean that less importance will be attached to the fight against racism and xenophobia, in particular since these phenomena are currently experiencing resurgence in Europe.
The Agency will be an effective tool for the protection of fundamental rights in the policies of the European Union. There will be no overlap but synergy with the work that the Council of Europe has carried out for years, which remains the major point of reference as regards human rights. Indeed, the Agency will build close institutional relationship with the Council of Europe.
By proposing the establishment of the Fundamental Rights Agency the Commission is implementing the first priority of the recently endorsed Action Plan “The Hague Programme: Ten priorities for the next five years - The Partnership for European renewal in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice”.
Proposal for a COUNCIL REGULATION establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION empowering the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to pursue its activities in areas referred to in Title VI of the Treaty on European Union. COM(2005)280 final, 30 June 2005.
COMMISSION STAFF WORKING PAPER, Annex to the Proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, and to the Proposal for a Council Decision empowering the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to pursue its activities in areas referred to in Title VI of the Treaty on European Union, IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT. SEC(2005)849, 30 June 2005.