26 October 2005
Briefing for Members on: the Proposed Fundamental Rights Agency
I. Aim of the briefing: .......................................................................................... 1
II. Decision Making Process .................................................................................. 1
III. Campaigning Options ..................................................................................... 2
IV. Contents of the Proposal ................................................................................. 3
V. Background and Context .................................................................................. 7
I. Aim of the briefing:
This briefing aims to give members a short summary of the key elements of the Commission’s
proposal1, explain the decision making process, and outline suggestions for action by the Social
Platform and its members.
Fundamental Rights Agency Process Tracker
The process tracker provides members with:
Detailed information on the processes for approving the proposals
Contact information for key figures involved in the institutional process (European
Parliament, Commission, Council, etc.)
Regular updates on scheduled meetings, voting, etc.
click here to go directly to the Fundamental Rights Agency Process Tracker
II. Decision Making Process
Note on legal basis: the Commission has submitted two documents for the
establishment of the Agency: one for a Regulation under the Treaty Establishing the
European Community, and a second for Decision under the Treaty on European Union to
entrust the Agency with tasks in areas referred to in Title VI TEU.
Council – there is not agreement amongst the 25 Member States on a number of issues in the
Commission‟s proposals. The Council has established an ad hoc working party on the
Fundamental Rights Agency which is coordinated by Irene Simantoni
(firstname.lastname@example.org). The working party is currently negotiating on the basis of
Proposal for a regulation establishing a European Agency for Fundamental Rights COM(2005) 280 Final: EN
the Commission‟s proposals and will continue to consult until the new year. The Austrians hope to
pass the regulation and decision under their Presidency (January – June 2007).
The European Parliament with submit two reports on the process.
Also, the process is consultation not co-decision for both the decision and the regulation, but
the Commission has stated that it wishes to involve the EP as much as possible. In these
situations, a procedure called a „trialogue‟ takes place once the EP has drafted its reports. This
procedure brings the Commission, Council and relevant committees from the EP together to discuss
the draft reports with the intension of passing the reports as soon as possible. This tends to mean
that all sides are open to compromise and try to respond to as many „potential‟ amendments prior
to getting to the voting stage.
From speaking to one of the Rapporteurs, it seems that the Parliament is not happy with the
content of the proposal.
Process reference Legal Rapporteur Committee
CNS/2005/0124 - CE 308 Kinga Gal (PPE-DE) Civil Liberties, Justice
European Union European Union to the process and Home Affairs
Agency for Agency - Under Title tracker for more
Fundamental Rights: IV of TEC details
establishment, role - Looks at the
and mandate proposals in the
replacing the context of the title on
European immigration, freedom
Monitoring Centre of movement, etc.
on Racism and
CNS/2005/0125 M 031 ; M 030 ; M Magda Kósáné Kovács Civil Liberties, Justice
European Union 034-p2c (PSE) and Home Affairs
Agency for Title VI – TEU - Looks to the process
Fundamental Rights: at the proposals in tracker for more
pursuing actions on terms of cooperation details
police and judicial and criminalisation …,
co-operation in with reference to
criminal matters, „preventing racism and
Treaty TEU Title VI xenophobia‟.
III. Campaigning Options
During the consultation process, many members developed their own suggestions and
recommendations to the Commission on the structure, scope and mandate of the proposed Agency.
Now that the Commission has delivered its rather vague proposals, members of the Social Platform
must decide on what kind of collective campaigning we can initiate and where members prefer to
lobby independently on particular issues.
The Social Platform will ask its members to agree on a manifesto on the Fundamental Rights
Agency which comprises several basic benchmarks. The secretariat will circulate the draft
manifesto and organise a short meeting for discussion and debate amongst members in early
November. The Manifesto will be accompanied by supporting texts which explain why these
benchmarks are essential. The Secretariat will ask members to help draft these examples,
To be most effective, lobbying should be aimed at the Council, with members of the Social
Platform encouraging their members to lobby at national level. The Member States have differing
views on a number of the Commission‟s proposals and can probably be convinced to take the
benchmarks proposed by the Social Platform on board in the final compromise document.
Please see the manifesto and supporting documents for more detail.
The rapporteurs for the European Parliament appear interested in working with members of the
Social Platform in drafting their reports; the secretariat and individual members will take contact
with these MEPs.
The Process Tracker has all the contact details for the relevant people in the EP, Commission,
IV. Contents of the Proposal
The proposed operational structure for the Fundamental Rights Agency includes a Board with one
independent person appointed by each Member State, one person appointed by the European
Parliament, two representatives from the European Commission, one person appointed by the
Council of Europe; the Director of the proposed Gender Institute will sit on the Board as an advisor.
An Executive Board will be comprised of the two Commission representatives and two other
members of the Board.
The proposed structure also includes a Fundamental Rights Forum to be composed of
representatives of non-governmental organisations involved in promoting fundamental rights and
combating racism and xenophobia. This Forum shall have 100 members and shall serve as a
mechanism for the exchange of information and ensure close cooperation between the Agency and
At first glance the Forum appears to be an important element of the Fundamental Rights Agency;
closer inspection of the proposal reveals, however, that the Forum is without power or status to
engage in the operations of the Agency. There is no indication as to how the views of the Forum
will be taken into consideration by the Board or Executive Board, and as the Forum is only
mandated to meet once a year, it is difficult to imagine a continuing impact on the work of the
Agency. Without a seat on the Board, the NGO Forum has no direct link to the running of the
Fundamental Rights Agency.
Possible lobbying suggestion on structure:
Demand that members of the Fundamental Rights Forum be included on the Board.
This suggestion was also supported at a meeting in Vienna coordinated by the Vienna NGO
Committee on Human Rights in October 2005. See the Process Tracker for details.
4 pers.: Chair and Vice Chair
2 rep. from the Commission
29 pers: MS, EP, CoE, Commission
Observer: director Gender Institute
Fundamental Rights Forum
NGOs, Trade Unions, churches, experts.
The key purpose is provide the Fundamental Rights Agency with the scope to cover all areas of
fundamental rights referred to in the Charter.
The aim of the Fundamental Rights Agency is to establish a centre of expertise on fundamental
rights in the EU. The main functions of the Agency will revolve around:
Collecting objective, reliable and comparable information
Formulating opinions – either on its own initiative or at the request of the EU institutions
Monitoring the application of fundamental rights standards in practice by the Union
institutions, bodies and agencies; and monitoring the same when Member States
implement Community law
Identifying good practice in respecting and promoting fundamental rights by Union
institutions, bodies, agencies and Member States
Raising public awareness of fundamental rights
Promoting dialogue with civil society, coordinating and networking with various actors in
the field of fundamental rights
Working in a complementary way and avoid overlap with the relevant international
organisations, in particular with the Council of Europe and with the relevant Community
agencies and Union bodies when pursuing its objectives
Providing effective assistance and expertise to the Union institutions and relevant
authorities of the Member States.
In its contributions to the consultation process, the Social Platform put forward a
number of recommendations for the Fundamental Rights Agency. The table below
compares the Commission’s proposals with the Social Platform’s recommendations 2:
Social Platform request Result in proposal
The Fundamental Rights Agency should play a No reference to this task/role.
role in impact assessment and mainstreaming
fundamental rights. The Fundamental Rights
Agency should be responsible for the development There is a possibility that this could be integrated into the
of human rights-proofing tools and regular reports work programme of the Fundamental Rights Agency
on the mainstreaming of human rights in the work
of the institutions
The Fundamental Rights Agency should launch No reference to this point.
campaigns on human rights awareness linked
with EU funding programmes like EIDHR and others Social Platform could consider lobbying to have this included
in the work programme.
Third Countries: The Agency could contribute to The Agency will deal with fundamental rights in the Union
monitor the use of the “human rights conditionality and Member States when implementing Union law and in those
clause” in trade and international agreements candidate countries and potential candidate countries which
signed between the EU and third countries. participate in the Agency.
In addition, the Commission may as the Agency to submit
information and analysis on third countries with which the
Community has concluded association agreements or
agreements containing provisions on respect of human rights,
or has opened or is planning to open negotiations for such
Article 13 TEC on the fight against discrimination: No specific mention of Article 13 or anti-discrimination
The Agency could make recommendations to the policies
Commission on legislation that should be
developed or actions that should be taken by the Mandate includes a specific reference to fighting racism and
EU to combat discrimination. The reference to xenophobia
Article 13 could also help to establish more firmly
the work done in the past by the EUMC in relation Article 13 could be included in a work programme
to anti-racism and xenophobia.
An organisational solution needs to be found in No reference to this suggestion
order to allow an “independent” assessment of the
data that will be collected on Member States and The proposals do not mention the Network of independent
on the EU experts on fundamental rights, but only states: “It shall also
organise meetings of experts, and whenever necessary, set up
ad hoc working parties” (Article 4) and a reference to
enhancing cooperation with civil society including experts, by
networking, promoting dialogue and EU level and participating
where appropriate at national level.
With thanks to Christine Loudes of ILGA-Europe for preparing this analysis. Click here
for her note.
A full and open consultation with representative The Fundamental Rights Forum is apparently designed to
NGO experts in the field is absolutely essential in serve this purpose, but there are concerns over how much
order to ensure that these issues are adequately influence NGOs in the Forum will have on the Agency‟s
addressed. operations. Please see: suggestions for a Social Platform
lobbying strategy below.
perhaps also through projects
Social NGOs believe that whilst the collection of This demand has not been taken up.
date can be entrusted to the agency, the
assessment of this data should be given to There is no mention of the Network of independent experts
independent experts. It is crucial that NGOs, both on fundamental rights
at the national and European level, be
systematically involved in the collection and No mention of the role of NGOs in data collection, though it
assessment of the data used by the Agency. might be assumed that the Agency will have to continue to
gather information via NGOs possibly through a new incarnation
of the RAXEN network
Co-operation and partnerships between the Co-operation with NGOs to be decided by the Management
Fundamental Rights Agency and NGOs board on proposal by the Director and with the opinion of the
Commission – this includes determining the selection process
for members of the Fundamental Rights Forum.
Co-operation and synergies with other bodies Co-operation with other community bodies and agencies to
be dealt with in memoranda of understanding;
Specific mention is made of the Gender Institute and the
need to work closely together; the Director of the European
Institute for Gender Equality is invited to Management Board
meetings as an observer;
Co-operation with governments and NGOs in Member States
and with EU administration to be decided by the Management
Board on the basis of proposals from the Director and with the
opinion of the European Commission;
Co-operation with the Council of Europe to include a
representative on the Management Board;
External evaluation to ensure that the Agency‟s activities are
consistent with those of other international organisations:
Council of Europe, OSCE, United Nations and other relevant EU
bodies, i.e. the European Institute for Gender Equality;
The Fundamental Rights Agency will also award grants to
The Fundamental Rights Agency should offer an External evaluation after three years (approx. end 2009)
added value to stakeholders which should be Periodic external evaluations
determined by an external evaluation. Monitoring indicators (listed in Annex to proposals) are
Though the European Commission‟s proposal recognises the need for the Fundamental Rights
Agency to operate in independence, it remains unclear as to how this will be assured. The
European Commission suggests that it occupy half of the seats on the Executive Board, which
excludes a representative of the NGO Forum. Furthermore, the proposal suggests that the work
programme of the Fundamental Rights Agency be developed to follow that of the Commission.
V. Background and Context
On 13 December 2003 the European Council decided to expand and broaden the European
Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and stress the importance of human rights data
collection and analysis.
The proposed new agency, the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union, is part of the
Hague Programme, which was designed to strengthen freedom, security and justice in the EU was
then adopted on 4 – 5 November 2004. The Hague Programme was launched on 10 May 2005 and
set out 10 priorities for DG Freedom, Security and Justice, the first of which is Fundamental Rights
Furthermore, this decision to establish a Fundamental Rights Agency is „in line with the specific
commitments of the Union to respect and strengthen fundamental rights, as laid down in Articles 2,
6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union.‟
In the Spring of 2004, the Social Platform met with then DG JAI (now DG Justice, Freedom and
Security) to discuss issues to be raised in the European Commission‟s consultation.
The public consultation started in the Autumn of 2004 with a Communication from the European
Commission and was followed by a public hearing in early 2005.
The European Commission submitted its proposals for a regulation and a decision on the new
Fundamental Rights Agency to the Council and the Parliament on 30 June 2005.
Proposal for a regulation establishing a European Agency for Fundamental Rights COM(2005)
280 Final: EN FR DE
Results of the consultation
The explanatory note which precedes the Regulation also summarises the consultation process and
describes how the contributions have been taken into account. The Commission asked a private
consultant to prepare a preliminary analysis of the contributions which clearly lists the different
perspectives advanced by NGOs, Member States and other stakeholders.
The Social Platform‟s contributions to the consultation can all be found on the Fundamental Rights