Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 301

FRA Director sums up Agency’s achievements and looks towards future work and challenges

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 9 marzo 2015

Morten_KjærumOutgoing FRA Director Morten Kjaerum spoke to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on the Agency’s achievements since its establishment in 2007 and its role in meeting the EU’s fundamental rights challenges in the coming years.“Over the last seven years we have created a unique pool of data on key fundamental rights issues throughout Europe on which we had little or no knowledge about before,” he said. “Those big surveys have added up to give all of us a very detailed insight that has helped to formulate more targeted policy.”The Director, who will be leaving FRA at the end of March after seven years at the Agency, gave the example of FRA’s survey of 42,000 women across the EU about their experiences of violence, the Agency’s online survey of 93,000 LGBT people throughout the EU, the survey of Roma that was carried out in cooperation with the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme, and which provided information on more than 84,000 people, the survey of 23,500 ethnic minorities across the EU, and the survey of almost 6,000 Jews in the eight EU Member States in which approximately 90% of the EU’s Jewish population lives.
Speaking of the fundamental rights challenges faced by the EU in the wake of the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, he emphasised the importance of integrating human rights into EU policy from the outset and not “compartmentalising” them, as they are relevant to all policy agendas. In addition, social rights need to move higher up the agenda, as the frustration caused by austerity programmes and growing inequality cannot be ignored. Particularly in the current debate, human rights and security should be regarded as two sides of the same coin: “Human rights are often termed a ‘soft issue’. It’s not about hard or soft though, but about smart approaches,” he said. “Maybe we need new legislation, but maybe we also need to think more about how we work as an inclusive society, and how we can create more social cohesion in Europe.”In her address to the same meeting, Maija Sakslin, outgoing Chair of FRA’s Management Board, spoke about FRA’s forthcoming work this year. These included the publication of FRA’s findings on the subject of labour exploitation in the EU in June, as well as the results of its work on national intelligence services and surveillance, which has been carried out at the LIBE Committee’s request, following last year’s resolution by the European Parliament on the NSA’s surveillance programme.Both the Director and the Management Board Chair mentioned the issue of broadening FRA’s mandate to enable the Agency to contribute more to safeguarding fundamental rights in the EU, for example by allowing FRA to formulate Opinions on upcoming legislation on its own initiative, rather than having to wait for a request from one of the EU institutions. The ability to work more widely on social rights in the aftermath of the economic crisis was also mentioned.LIBE Chair Claude Moraes paid tribute to Morten Kjaerum’s work for the Agency and for doing a “tough job” at a difficult time. Other members of the Committee from across the political spectrum thanked FRA for putting fundamental rights at the top of the agenda and asked the Agency to consider beginning or increasing its work in the future on:online hate crime data protection and mass surveillance, particularly PNR internal security rule of law.

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