Thursday

27th Jul 2017

EU opts for fundamental rights agency with limited scope

  • Some fear the new agency will duplicate the activities of the Council of Europe (Photo: European Commission)

Europe's ministers have made a deal on the creation of a new EU agency to overlook how member states' respect the fundamental rights of citizens but ruled against it having the power to look into prisoner treatment or extraordinary renditions.

The EU fundamental rights agency - to be formally adopted on Tuesday (5 December) after months of wrangling – will be up and running according to its original time plan in January 2007.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It will be tasked to collect "objective, reliable and comparable" data on the fundamental rights situation across the bloc, provide the data to EU bodies and member states and also formulate opinions on what should be changed if asked by countries or institutions.

"We couldn't take for granted the establishment of the agency and we got it," said EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini who proposed the project last January.

During the discussions, both national governments and some NGOs argued that the agency risked duplicating the activities of the Council of Europe, a 46-strong human rights watchdog founded in 1955.

Its political relevance has also somewhat weakened since the EU constitution was put on hold following the 'no' votes in France and the Netherlands as the list of fundamental rights it is supposed to monitor is based on the charter inscribed in the treaty.

Moreover, as a result of opposition by six countries, including the UK, Ireland and some new member states, the agency's scope has been limited to areas covered by community law - such as discrimination or domestic violence.

But it will not be able to tackle issues involving police and legal co-operation in criminal matters, as the opponents of the agency insisted that there is no legal basis for the new body to have such powers.

This has been strongly criticised by human rights groups who argue that it was precisely the recent problems related to these areas - such as European governments' reported awareness of CIA flights and prisons where terrorist suspects were allegedly tortured - that should be monitored more closely in future.

Still, Mr Frattini pointed out that the agency rules allow the EU institutions and member states to use its expertise and "on a voluntary basis" receive relevant analyses and data.

He said that as a representative of the commission, he is ready to make use of this provision in future, adding "I can do that and I will do that."

Ministers decided they would get back to the issue by the end of 2009 and re-examine the possibility of extending the agency's scope to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The new agency is supposed to extend the agenda and powers of the existing European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia based in Vienna, starting with a budget of €13 million which should be raised to €30 million by 2013.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

EU Commission to act on Poland

The EU executive is likely to issue a new set of rule of law recommendations to Poland and start legal probes once the controversial pieces of legislation have been published.

Orban vows to defend Poland from EU's 'inquisition'

The Hungarian leader called EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans an "inquisitor", allied with George Soros and the Brussels elite, and argued for the EU executive to stop being a political body.

Poland 'leaving EU community of values'

Leading MEPs and legal watchdogs have raised the alarm on Polish judicial reforms, but the European Commission declined to speak out so far.

Column / Brexit Briefing

UK presses the Brexit pause button

Originally, a transitional deal to soften the UK's exit from the EU was seen as a no-go on the British side, but now it is seeming more and more likely.

News in Brief

  1. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  2. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  3. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  4. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada
  5. US votes in favour of Nord Stream II sanctions
  6. Greece makes return to bond market
  7. Trump accuses the EU of protectionism
  8. EU parliament's Brexit group urges progress on talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  2. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  3. EU and US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  4. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  5. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  6. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas
  7. Russia's EU pipeline at 'risk' after US vote
  8. EU Commission to act on Poland