EU AGENCY FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS (FRA): A REALITY CHECK

 

EU AGENCY FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS (FRA):
A REALITY CHECK

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l 

 
“EU NEWS”


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The purpose of the present report is to provide a critical assessment of the work of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and to identify some shortfalls in the overall EU system of promotion and protection of EU fundamental rights and values. The work on the report has been guided by the premise that the new fundamental rights dimension of the EU policies, ensuing from the legally binding nature of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as incorporated in the Lisbon Treaty, makes it necessary for the European Union to develop and consolidate a genuine culture of fundamental rights at the level of both EU institutions and EU Member States broadly and when applying and implementing the Union Law.
The importance of a EU fundamental rights culture has been widely acknowledged but it is still in its nascent stages and risks to remain rudimentary, unless a proper institutional architecture is installed to support its development and consolidation. Notwithstanding the existing mechanisms and legal provisions in place, the whole system remains fragmented and reactive. 
In its resolution of 15 December 2010, the European Parliament calls on the EU institutions and Member States to increase coherence among their various bodies responsible for monitoring and implementation of fundamental rights protection and to reinforce a cross-EU monitoring mechanism, as well as an early warning system, similar to the UN Universal Periodic Review. However, the European Union still lacks a comprehensive internal human rights structure to ensure cross-institutional coordination and to allow each institution to build upon other institutions’ reports and institutional expertise acquired in the process of their autonomous processes of conducting compatibility checks and impact assessments of legislative proposals and policies.
On its side, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which has been in existence since 2007 as a “focused observation and assessment agency on Union policies, falls short of filling the gap of a much-needed early warning mechanism and ex ante examination of breaches or risk of breaches of EU fundamental rights. Most importantly, FRA fails short of fulfilling two important criteria underlying the UN Paris Principles governing the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), i.e. a broad mandate and full-fledged independence. 
Despite these deficiencies, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights still can carve an important role for itself in the overall EU fundamental rights architecture, if properly resourced, mandated and politically supported. In this respect, the objective of this report is to raise critical questions at a period when the Agency is coming to the end of its first five-year Multiannual Framework (MAF) and starts planning for its second five-year cycle of existence. This should be seen as a critical juncture of the institutional learning process of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. It is therefore an opportune time to assess the Agency’s position and role within the EU fundamental rights architecture as well as its added value and ability to mobilise resources and expertise to fulfil its mandate within the context of the prescribed broad-based participatory process of consultations within the EU and its Member States.
Report drafted by Nadja Milanova
Brussels, 7 November 2011

______________________________________


EU AGENCY FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS (FRA):

A REALITY CHECK
By Dr Nadja Milanova
See the full-report (72 pages) at http://www.hrwf.net 
(Homepage/ Our Reports/ 2011) 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
         Executive summary                                                                                                                                       
         Chapter I: EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) : Genesis and overview                        
Fundamental human rights policy in the EU: New architecture                                   
          Monitoring of fundamental rights                                                                                             
          The genesis of FRA: Inherent asymmetries                                                                       
          The creation of FRA


Chapter II: EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: Institutional model                                        

     FRA as a specialized EU Agency                                                                                             

     FRA and the Paris Principles                                                                                                    

     Scope of FRA’s mandate                                                                                                          
     FRA’s independence                                                                                                                 
     FRA and NHRIs in EU Member States 
Chapter III: EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: Organisational structure
     Overall control of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights                                             
     Relations with EU institutions and Member States                                                          
     The role of civil society in the work of FRA                                                                          
Chapter IV: EU fundamental rights culture: An Illusion or a reality?                           
      The case of Hungary
                      Monitoring of the EU Member States’ compliance with fundamental rights        
      Timeline of Hungary’s adoption of new Media Law and reaction to it                
      Timeline of Hungary’s adoption of new Constitution and reaction to it                 
     Timeline of Hungary’s adoption of new Religion Law and reaction to it
      Recommendations                                                                                                          
Annexes
            List of relevant documents                                                                                                       
 The Paris Principles relating to the status of national institutions                         
   Members of FRA’s Management Board                                                                          
   Members of FRA’s Scientific Committee                                                                        
      FRA’s National Liaison Officers                                                                                            

  


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