Monday, 14 May 2007

EU Agency for Fundamental Rights

The European Community and its Member States must respect fundamental rights when implementing Community law.

This is one of the reasons mentioned in Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 establishing a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. The Agency (acronym FRA) became operational on 1 March 2007, but expected to become fully operational next year.

The objective of the Agency is to provide the Community and its Member States with independent assistance and expertise relating to fundamental rights when implementing Community law.

Important references for the Agency’s work are Article 6(2) of the EU Treaty, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Intergovernmental cooperation within the areas of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters has proved to by a touchy issue. EU institutions (read ‘the Council’) and Member States may benefit, on a voluntary basis, from the Agency’s expertise.

In order to avoid duplication and to ensure complementarity and added value, the Agency shall coordinate its activities with those of the Council of Europe.

The Agency, which is based in Vienna, shall cooperate with non-governmental organisations and with institutions of civil society. An exchange and information mechanism called the Fundamental Rights Platform is going to be set up.

One of the Agency’s tasks is to raise public awareness. The Agency shall be open to the participation of candidate countries as observers.

Ralf Grahn