25 April 2006
First Comments regarding the establishment of a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
- the European Council Decision, of 13 December 2003, to set up an EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA);
- the European Parliament Report on promotion and protection of fundamental rights, of 26 May 2005 (Rapporteur MEP Kinga Gál), calling the Commission to submit a legislative proposal to that effect;
- the Commission’s Proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a FRA and for a Council Decision empowering the FRA to pursue its activities in areas referred to in Title VI of the EU Treaty;
- the efforts of the UK and Austrian Presidencies to promote the further elaboration of these instruments;
- the efforts of the Austrian Presidency to finalize these instruments before the European Council of June 2006, so that the FRA can start operating from the 1st January 2007.
After careful study of the Commission’s Proposal and drawing on its work relating to fundamental rights, and in particular its activity regarding the future of Europe (12 contributions to the Eur.Convention, 4 appeals to the IGC and a first position on the Reflection Period ), EWLA presents its first comments on the establishment of the FRA.
At this crucial moment for the Union, the safeguard and development of all fundamental rights forming the acquis communautaire is more important than ever. This makes urgent the establishment of a FRA, which can be an effective means to this effect and bring citizens nearer to the Union, provided that:
?It is independent from EU institutions, Member States and economic and political interests and considerations. This can be achieved, in particular, through:
- the appointment of independent persons of high standing, knowledge and activity in human rights as members of the Management Board (MB) of the FRA, according to transparent procedures;
- the appointment of independent persons of high standing, expertise and activity in human rights as members of the Scientific Council (SC) of the FRA, according to transparent procedures;
- guarantees of personal and functional independence of MB and SC members during their term of office;
- a strong (in size and competences) SC;
- the scientific supervision of the work of the FRA by the SC and the scientific responsibility of the SC for it;
- the adoption of all instruments relating to the operation, areas of activity and discharge of the tasks of the FRA (in particular multiannual and annual programmes and reports) by the Agency itself.
? It has an adequate geographical scope
: member states, candidate states and states having concluded a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EC (potential candidates). The involvement in the FRA, with an observer status, of the latter two categories will be in the interest of both the EU and these states.
?It has an adequate material scope
: the whole acquis communautaire in fundamental rights, including the rights defined in Article 6(2) TEU, those included in the Charter of Fundamental Rights proclaimed in Nice in December 2000, those deriving from primary and secondary EC law and those acknowledged by ECJ case law.
?It deals with the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and in the member states and candidate states when they act within the scope of EU law
; not only when they implement EU law, within the framework of both the 1st and the 3rd pillars
, where citizens urgently demand the the EU guarantee their fundamental rights.
? It assists EU institutions within the framework of their competences under Articles 7 and 49 TEU
?It operates in accordance with fundamental democratic principles
, including the principle of balanced participation of women and men in all its organs.
?It observes in all its activities the horizontal requirement, addressed by the Treaty to all EC/EU institutions, organs and bodies, to “actively promote“ gender equality
(Art. 3(2) TEC).
?It engages in a structured and effective dialogue with NGOs which actively promote fundamental rights.
Such a FRA will substantially contribute to achieving complementarity with the work of the Council of Europe and other international organisations, to the benefit of human rights in Europe.