Fundamental Rights Conference 2012

The FRA will host its annual Fundamental Rights Conference at the European Parliament on 6-7 December 2012. The event will be held under the auspices of the President of the European Parliament and with the support of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Fundamental Rights Conference 2012

Key speakers

  • Martin Schulz

    Martin Schulz

    President of the European Parliament. He has been is a Member of the European Parliament since 1994 and has served in a number of committees, including the sub-committee on Human Rights and the Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs.

  • Viviane Reding

    Viviane Reding

    Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Prior to her appointment, she was Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, Media and Sports and Commissioner for Information, Society, and Media.

  • Loucas Louca

    Loucas Louca

    Assumed his duties as Minister of Justice and Public Order of the Republic of Cyprus in December 2008. In 1998 he was one of the founders of the EPALXIS party and since 2001 he has been a member of its Political Bureau.

  • Paula Teixeira da Cruz

    Paula Teixeira da Cruz

    Minister of Justice, Portugal. Previously she served as a Member of the High Council of the Public Prosecutor's Office, Member of the General Council of the Bar Association, and Member of the Supreme Judicial Council.

  • Navanethem Pillay

    Navanethem Pillay

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since September 2008, served as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague (2003-2008), acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, played a role in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

  • Nils Muižnieks

    Nils Muižnieks

    Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Other posts he has held include: Chairman of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2010-2012); Latvian minister responsible for social integration, anti-discrimination.

  • Morten Kjaerum

    Morten Kjaerum

    Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Prior to taking this position in June 2008, Mr Kjaeurm worked on Human Rights for 25 years.

This year’s conference will focus on Justice in austerity - challenges and opportunities for access to justice.
At a time when the European Union and its citizens are deeply affected by the current economic crisis, we must maintain our vigilance, ensuring that fundamental rights do not fall victim to austerity measures and that people can access justice when their rights are violated. The FRC will therefore examine current challenges in accessing justice and explore how we can turn the economic crisis into an opportunity for innovation and reform.


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Conference trailer video

Hosts

The Fundamental Rights Conference is the main annual event of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. This year the conference is hosted under the high patronage of the President of the European Parliament and in close cooperation with Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). The Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union also supports this event.

Participants

Some 300 policy makers, experts and practitioners from EU institutions and bodies, the Council of Europe, national administrations, associations of legal professionals, judiciary, civil society and many more.

Key questions

  • What are the effects of economic crisis on judicial systems and those seeking justice?
  • How can access to justice be maintained for everyone, including people in precarious situations, who have become even more vulnerable during the economic crisis?
  • What are the emerging patterns in litigation, private legal services or state-funded legal aid programmes?
  • How can we turn this time of economic crisis into an opportunity for innovation, needed harmonisation and reform? What are the solutions and who are the actors that can further access to justice at national as well as European levels?

FRC - greener and more socially responsible!

The Fundamental Rights Conference aims to be a socially responsible and environment friendly event. To this end, all the conference documents will be printed on environmentally friendly paper. Moreover, we assessed greenhouse gas emissions linked to the energy consumption of the Fundamental Rights Conference and will compensate for carbon emissions by supporting a selected carbon project initiative.

Day 1 & 2 updates
Theme
Programme

Programme:

Programme

FRA Exhibition at the EP

26 – 29 November 2012

ASP1 (Zone G Area Balcony 1st Floor)

About

Justice in austerity - challenges and opportunities for access to justice

The right to access justice, as guaranteed in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, is fundamental to ensuring that fundamental rights are enforced in practice. Austerity measures are leading to cuts in public funding for justice institutions and legal aid programmes. Coupled with rising poverty and unemployment, people’s ability to seek redress becomes harder.

In some EU Member States, cuts in public spending have reduced budgets for courts and bodies with a human rights remit as well as funding for a number of measures supporting access to justice, such as legal aid programmes and victim support services provided by the non-governmental sector. At the same time, the poor financial situation and growing unemployment has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable groups of society, such as people with disabilities, irregular migrants, children, limiting even further their possibilities to access justice.

But fiscal consolidation could also be an opportunity to reform less effective structures, and explore new solutions, thereby ensuring accessible justice for everyone in the EU. Well-functioning and efficient justice systems can help reinforce economic growth. A number of EU Member States have already introduced some efficiency-boosting measures, reforming courts, streamlining various judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, ensuring better implementation of judicial decisions, improving judges’ management skills and strengthening the role of non-judicial redress mechanisms. Much more could be done to improve access to justice.

The economic crisis affects all areas of economic and political life, requiring the distribution of already scarce resources among multiple and often conflicting priorities. It is therefore more important than ever to put a rights-based approach at the core of policy making, ensuring that the principles of fundamental rights guide decision making, taking into account both the rights of victims as well as those of the accused.

The Fundamental Rights Conference will examine existing policies, help to understand strengths and weaknesses of different judicial systems and their financing mechanisms, and seek to identify the effects of austerity-driven reforms in the field. It will also foster exchange of promising practices and promote innovative solutions that could aid policy makers.

 

Programme

Fundamental Rights Conference 2012 Programme

Thursday 6 December

Time Description
12:00 – 14:00

Welcome reception

14:00 – 14:30

Opening

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. View speech (Video)|Download speech (DE)

Introduction

Loucas Louca, Minister of Justice and Public Order, Cyprus. Download speech.

Morten Kjaerum, Director, FRA. Download speech.

14:30 - 15:00

Keynote addresses

Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Download speech.

Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), European Parliament

15:00 – 16:30

Panel debate

Justice in recession? Current trends and challenges for access to justice

What are the key challenges that affect justice systems across the EU? Increasing poverty and unemployment, reduced public funding for justice institutions and legal aid programmes – how does this affect people’s ability to seek redress when their rights are violated? What are the costs of the economic crisis for access to justice? What institutional and policy changes have taken place because of the economic crisis?

Panellists:

  • Maura McGowan QC, Chairperson Elect of the Bar Council of England & Wales, United Kingdom
  • Lotta Hakansson-Harju, Member of the Committee of the Regions, Commission for Citizenship, governance, institutional and external affairs (CIVEX), Sweden
16:30 – 17:00

Coffee break

 

Presentation of the FRA's EU Charter app

 

17:00 - 17:15

Keynote address

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Read speech.

 

17:15 – 18:30

Panel debate

Access to justice in austerity: new opportunities for reform?

This time of economic crisis could also be an opportunity to rethink how we can ensure access to justice for all, re-shaping existing institutional structures and looking for alternative and more cost-efficient ways to guarantee effective and independent justice. It is time to articulate vigorously the key principles of justice that cannot be ignored or rescinded, even in times of recession, showing how these could guide policy responses and institutional adjustments. Alternative dispute resolution, non-judicial redress, e-justice and other mechanisms could be promising tools for the road ahead. What are their costs and benefits? How do reforms in the justice system affect the most disadvantaged groups, such as persons with disabilities, migrants and the elderly? What are the promising practice initiatives that we could learn from?

Panellists:

 

20:00 – 22:00 Evening reception

Friday 7 December

Time Description
09:00 – 09:15

Re-thinking access to justice in practice

Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe. Download speech.

09:15 – 09:30

Access to justice in cases of discrimination in the EU: Steps to further equality

Presentation of the FRA report

Jonas Grimheden, Team Coordinator Access to Justice, FRA. Download presentation (pdf).

09:30 - 11:30

Working groups
Innovating justice - ideas, pathways, solutions

  • Working group I: RAISING LEGAL AWARENESS: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN THE AGE OF E-TECHNOLOGIES?
    Chaired by: Dick Heimans, Deputy Head of Unit Criminal Law, DG Justice, European Commission
  • Working group II: RIGHTS OF VICTIMS OF CRIME IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC AUSTERITY
    Chaired by: Nathalie Griesbeck, Member of the European Parliament, Committee Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)
  • Working group III: ENSURING ACCESS TO A LAWYER AND ACCESS TO LEGAL AID
    Chaired by: Tadeusz Zwiefka, Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)
  • Working group IV: STRENGTHENING ACCESS TO JUSTICE THROUGH BODIES WITH HUMAN RIGHTS REMIT
    Chaired by: Jozef De Witte, Chair of the Board of EQUINET and Executive Director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, Belgium
  • Working group V: TOWARDS EFFECTIVE MEDIATION POLICY MAKING
    Chaired by: Giuseppe De Palo, Director of JAMS International and co-founder and President of ADR Center, Italy

For more information please refer to working groups.

11:30-12:00 Coffee break
Presentation of the FRA's EU Charter app
12:00-13:00

Panel debate

The road to justice: next steps and commitments

 

Discussion with working group chairs

13:00-13:30

Closing remarks

Maija Sakslin, Chairperson of the Management Board, FRA. View speech.

13:30-15:00 Lunch

 

Downloads: 

FRC2012 programme

[pdf]en fr (1.02 MB)
Working groups

Working groups

The working groups will focus on specific aspects of access to justice and how they can be improved, despite existing economic constraints. Each parallel session will be introduced by a panel of practitioners who will present promising practice examples, explore innovative models and raise key questions. Discussions will then continue in an interactive format aimed at pooling and sharing experience between participants on the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions, their practical implementation, as well as strategies to raise public awareness about fundamental rights and available pathways to justice.

The following five thematic working groups will cover key areas addressed at the conference:


Working group I: Raising legal awareness: new opportunities in the age of e-technologies?

Chaired by: Dick Heimans, Deputy Head of the Criminal Law Unit, DG Justice, European Commission

The use of information technology to raise legal awareness and hence improve access to justice is developing rapidly at both European Union (EU) and national levels. Electronic tools provide targeted e-services, including, for example, online information on the existing justice system, e-complaint forms and databases, online handling of individual complaints and the use of video technology. They are often quicker and cheaper than the traditional paper-based systems and particularly well-placed to facilitate access to justice in cross-border scenarios.

Yet, there are limits to the reach of such tools, especially since not all segments of society are sufficiently proficient in or willing to make use of e-technology. The lack of access to the Internet may also negatively affect some individuals, in particularly the most vulnerable groups. At the same time, in the context of the often severely restrained budgets of national governments in the EU, investments in new e-technologies have been reduced.

This working group provides an opportunity to discuss new models and tools offered by e-technologies at EU and national levels and their impact – both positive and negative – on access to justice in the face of economic crisis.

Questions for debate:

  • Raising legal awareness – many new tools, but what are their practical effects? By being easier to use do they create more or less work? If they enable users to better understand mechanisms is the result that less times is wasted as people know where to turn for help?
  • What tools work best? Distinguish between EU and national tools – can successful national or EU projects be easily replicated in other countries/at EU level?
  • Does austerity mean less investment in these tools, or is austerity used as an argument for a need for more efficiency of justice, and thus more e-tools are needed?

Panellists:


Working group II: Rights of victims of crime in times of economic austerity

Chaired by: Nathalie Griesbeck, Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)

In the light of the current economic crisis and the potential impact on resources, it is particularly important to recognise that all persons falling victim to crime in the EU have fundamental rights such as to access justice and receive support – regardless of legal status, country of origin or nationality. Persons who become victims of crime in a country other than their own often face additional problems when trying to access justice, such as dealing with language barriers, an unfamiliar criminal justice process and victim support mechanisms. The quality of information provided to victims of crime (in a language they understand) is a key factor in allowing them to access justice, as is assistance with handling expenses and awarding of compensation (which is generally extremely low and reportedly even more problematic in cross-border cases).

This working group will also focus on highlighting promising practices and challenges in the area of victim support, with a view to identifying effective and cost-efficient ways of implementing the new EU Directive (Measure A of the Victims’ Roadmap) establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime in all EU countries. The discussions will provide input to the FRA’s for ongoing project on Victim support services.

Preparing for the debate, we would like to encourage all participants to think about promising practice examples in your country/field of work that you could share with the group. The working group will also be a good opportunity to share ideas and experiences.

Panellists:

  • Ingrid Bellander-Todino, Team Leader 'Victims' Rights', DG Justice, European Commission [Download presentation]
  • Frida Wheldon, Head of Policy, Victim Support Europe  [Download presentation]
  • Lisa Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer, Tourist Assistance Service, Ireland [Download presentation]
  • Carmen Rasquete, Project Manager, Association for Victim Support (APAV), Portugal [Download presentation]
  • Vlasta Langhamerovà, Member of the Board, White Safety Ring (Bílý kruh bezpecí) – Victim support organisation, Czech Republic [Download presentation]
  • Joanna Goodey, Head of Department, Freedoms and Justice, FRA

Working group III: Ensuring access to a lawyer and access to legal aid

Chaired by: Tadeusz Zwiefka, Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)

Ensuring access to a lawyer and effective legal aid across the EU raises particular challenges for the EU Members States, especially in times of economic crisis. More and more people are faced with scarce resources when seeking justice. It is thus particularly important to guarantee legal aid as a fundamental safeguard towards equal access to justice for all, especially for those who lack sufficient resources.

In the framework of the Stockholm Programme, a proposal on a new legislative instrument on access to a lawyer in criminal matters is currently being discussed at the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. A report on the application of the Directive 2003/8/EC on legal aid in cross-border disputes has been recently published by the European Commission. In this context, the working groups will discuss the challenges of ensuring access to a lawyer and effective legal aid in all areas, civil as well as criminal. Special consideration shall be given to cost effective practices and emerging innovative solutions in EU Member States. Further opportunities will be explored, such as the role of the non-governmental actors and private sector, including legal expenses insurance and pro-bono work.

At the working group we aim to highlight the challenges, discuss the member states practices and reflect together with the participants on practical solutions to ensure equal access to legal aid in times of economic crisis.  Preparing for the debate, we would like to encourage all participants to think about promising practice examples in your country/your field of work that you could share with other participants. The working group will be a good opportunity for knowledge and good practice exchange.

Panellists:

  • Edouard De Lamaze, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), France
  • Costas Pamballis, Judge, Supreme Court, Cyprus [Download speech]
  • John Wadham, General Counsel, Commission for Equality and Human Rights, United Kingdom [Download presentation]
  • Fernando Piernavieja Niembro, Chair of Access to Justice Committee, Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE)
  • Nuala Mole, Senior Lawyer, The AIRE Centre - Advice on Individual Rights in Europe
  • Costanza Hermanin, Programme manager, Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Staffan Moberg, Senior Legal Adviser, Insurance Sweden [Download presentation]

Working group IV: Strengthening access to justice through bodies with human rights remit

Chaired by: Jozef De Witte, Chair of the Board of EQUINET and Executive Director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, Belgium

While access to justice typically means having a case heard in a court of law, it can more broadly be achieved or supported through mechanisms such as national human rights institutions, equality bodies, data protection authorities and ombudsman institutions. The work of these bodies with a human rights remit is typically closely tied to institutions not only at national level but also at regional and international level. These bodies thus link EU Member States to international organisations and monitoring mechanisms, supporting the more effective promotion and protection of human rights. To fulfill their role these bodies must be effective and independent, equipped with sufficient resources and the requisite competence to promote and protect – and monitor – the rights entrusted to them. As some of the main actors on fundamental rights at the national level, these bodies ensure an effective and independent focus on fundamental rights across a state, by, for example, pro-actively addressing systemic issues, suggesting solutions and raising fundamental rights awareness and knowledge.

The value and the importance of these bodies should not be underestimated. At times of economic crisis with general budget cuts it is important to ensure that such bodies – offering various forms of outreach or even low threshold complaints possibilities, especially for those already in a vulnerable situation – can deliver and even explore to what extent and how their impact could be enhanced.

Questions for debate:

  • What works already? What are the promising practices regarding bodies with a human rights remit that we could learn from? What are the solutions that work even with limited budgets?
  • What is missing? What are the key barriers to effective and independent bodies with a human rights remit? What are the effects of economic crisis?
  • What are concrete next steps? How can we improve access to justice through bodies with a human rights remit? How can we make existing systems more effective and efficient, particularly in the context of austerity policies? 

Panellists:

  • Leda Koursoumba, Chair of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC), Commissioner for Children’s rights, Cyprus
  • Zoi Kardasiadou, Head of Auditors Unit, Hellenic Data Protection Authority, Greece
  • Sophia Kouloulis-Spiliotopoulos, European Group of National Human Rights Institutions and Hellenic Commission for Human Rights, Greece
  • Konstantin Penchev, Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria [Download presentation]
  • Niraj Nathwani, Programme Manager - Legal Research, FRA

Working group V: Towards effective mediation policy making

Chaired by: Giuseppe De Palo, Director of JAMS International and co-founder and President of ADR Center, Italy

Download: [article] [presentation] [speech]

The EU’s systematic reflection upon mediation, as a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), can be traced back to the October 1999 European Council of Tampere. In May 2008 the EU Member States have decided to subject themselves to certain common rules on cross-border mediation in civil and commercial matters by virtue of the Directive 2008/52/EC (further: Mediation Directive); these had to be implemented in the Member States within three years.

The focus of the discussions held within this working group will be to analyse practical costs and benefits of mediation for cases involving fundamental rights violations. The experiences gathered since the adoption/implementation of the Mediation Directive will serve as a basis for discussions on the desired balance between litigation and mediation in the EU judicial practices. Most specifically, the question of how the use of mediation impacts other fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights will be looked at. Also, the practical experience gathered so far should be seen as an important source of information for decision-makers as regards future EU financial support for initiatives fostering mediation as an effective method of alternative dispute resolution.

Questions for debate:

  • What fundamental rights does ADR promote (Art 47 and beyond?) How does the use of ADR impact other fundamental rights?
  • How can we ensure that mediation results are properly enforced in cross-border cases?
  • What are legal and financial incentives that could further promote mediation?
  • How can the EU better promote mediation through its financial instruments? What are the priority areas for mediation under the Civil Justice Programme?

Panellists:

  • Izabella Csalotzky, Programme manager Civil Justice Programme, DG Justice, European Commission
  • Michel Benichou, Head of the French delegation to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and expert in mediation, France
  • Magdalena Grudziecka, Member of the Board, Association of Mediators, PolandDorin-Valeriu Badulescu, President, Mediation Council, Romania
  • Maija Gellin, Director of National Programme for School Mediation and Restorative Approaches in Education (VERSO), and Board Member of Finnish Forum for Mediation (FFM), Finland [Download presentation]
  • Zeno Sustac, Vice-President, Mediation Council, Romania
Speakers

Plenary speakers

(In order of appearance)

Martin Schulz
Martin Schulz has served as President of the European Parliament since January 2012. He has been a Member of the European Parliament since 1994 and has served on a number of committees, including the sub-committee on Human Rights and the Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs. He led the SPD MEPs from 2000 and was subsequently elected Vice-Chair of the Socialist MEPs. In 2004 he was elected group leader of the second largest group in the European Parliament. As leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz campaigned for social justice, promoting jobs and growth, reforming financial markets, fighting climate change, championing equality and creating a stronger and more democratic Europe. View opening speech (Video)|download speech (DE)

 

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Loucas Louca
Loucas Louca assumed his duties as Minister of Justice and Public Order of the Republic of Cyprus in December 2008. In 1998 he was one of the founders of the EPALXIS party and since 2001 he has been a member of its Political Bureau. Mr Louca holds a degree in law and is a member of the Bar Association of Nicosia. Download the speech.
Morten Kjaerum
Morten Kjaerum has served as Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights since June 2008. Before joining the FRA, Mr Kjaerum served as the founding Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Over 17 years in top executive roles, Mr Kjaerum built the Institute, Denmark’s national human rights institution, into an internationally recognised institution. An expert in human rights implementation, Mr Kjaerum has been a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the President of the International Coordination Committee for National Human Rights Institutions, a network coordinating relations between the United Nations and national institutions. Mr Kaerum has written extensively on issues relating to human rights, in particular on refugee law, the prohibition against racial discrimination, and the role of national human rights institutions. Download speech.
Viviane Reading
Viviane Reding has been the Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, since February 2010. This is Ms Reding’s third term as a Commissioner. Prior to her appointment, she was Commissioner for Information, Society, and Media (2004-2010) and Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth, Media and Sports (1999-2004). Before joining the European Commission, Ms Reding served as City Councillor in her home-town of Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxemburg), as a national parliamentarian, and as a European parliamentarian for 10 years. Ms Reding has been the recipient of many awards and distinctions, including the Gold Medal of European Merit (2001), the Robert Schuman Medal (2004) and the Prince of Asturias International Cooperation Prize (2004). Read Viviane Reding's speech.
Navanethem Pillay
Navanethem Pillay has been the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights since September 2008, a mandate which was renewed for two years as of September 2012. Prior to that, Ms Pillay, a South African national, served as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague (2003-2008). Ms Pillay began her professional career as the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967 and acted as a defence attorney for anti-apartheid activists. She has also played a critical role in the ground-breaking jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In South Africa, as a member of the Women's National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion of an equality clause in the country’s Constitution. Keynote address.
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar MEP
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar MEPis a Member of the European Parliament, where he chairs the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). He is also a Member of the Special committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM) and the Delegation to the ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States)-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. As a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, Mr Aguilar served as Minister of Justice in the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. He also represented Las Palmas in the congress between 2000 and 2004. For a number of years Mr Aguilar has been a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In November 2006, he was chosen as the socialist candidate for the Presidency of the Canary Islands Government.
Paula Teixeira da Cruz
Paula Teixeira da Cruz is Minister of Justice of Portugal. Previously she served as a Member of the High Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (1999-2003), Member of the General Council of the Bar Association (2002-2005), and Member of the Supreme Judicial Council (2003-2005). She is also a member of the Portuguese Association of European Law (APDE), Association for the Progress of Law and Portuguese Association of Arbitration. Within the Social Democratic Party, she has been a Member (1997-1998) and two-times Vice-Chair of the National Political Committee, and a Chair of the Lisbon District Political Committee. Paula Teixeira da Cruz served as a Councillor (without portfolio) on Lisbon City Council (1998-2002), and a Chair of the Municipal Assembly of Lisbon (2005 -2009).
Paula Teixeira da Cruz
Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio is a Member of the European Parliament, where she serves as Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and on the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. She is part of the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP). Ms Jiménez-Becerril Barrio was rapporteur of the recently adopted Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.
Françoise Castex
Françoise Castex is a Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs. She is also member of the Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering (CRIM). As a MEP, she has continuously advocated for the protection of fundamental rights in the EU. In 2011, for example, Ms Castex together with a group of other MEPs launched a Written Declaration on infringement of fundamental rights of the detainees in the EU. Previously, Ms Castex held different positions in the area of education, including Special Advisor for Educational Cooperation in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2002 -2004), Advisor in the office of the Minister responsible for vocational education (2000-2002) and Advisor in the Office of the Chairman of the Gers Departmental Council (1998-2000).
Maura McGowan
Maura McGowan QC, is Vice-Chairperson of the Bar for England and Wales for 2012 and Chairperson elect for 2013. She is a criminal practitioner in London and at Lincoln House Chambers in Manchester. She has extensive experience in all areas of crime, most notably murder, drugs, violent and sexual assault and child abuse. She also appears in serious and complex fraud cases. A Deputy High Court Judge since 2010 and a Recorder since 1996, she is an elected member of the Bar Council (serving on the Law Reform Committee and as Vice-Chairperson of the Professional Practice Committee). She is the Director of Education and Training for the South Eastern Circuit and a serving committee member of the Criminal Bar Association. She is a Bencher of Middle Temple and an advocacy trainer.
Lotta Hakansson-Harju
Lotta Hakansson-Harju is a Member of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) of the European Union. She is Member of Järfälla Municipal Council in Sweden. As member of the CoR's Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional & External Affairs (CIVEX) she was rapporteur for the CoR opinion on the Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Claude Moraes
Claude Moraes is Member of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). He is currently Spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament for the LIBE Committee and Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party. First elected to the European Parliament in 1999 for London, Mr Moraes was the first Asian origin MEP. He was previously Director of Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the national migration and refugee charity, and Chief Executive of the Immigrants' Aid Trust. Prior to that he held a senior position in the British Trades Union Congress and was UK Commissioner for Race Equality. With a legal background, Claude has campaigned, written widely and provided regular media commentary on human rights and migration issues and organised legal test cases in UK and the European Courts.
Luigi Berlinguer
Luigi Berlinguer has been Member of the European Parliament since 2009. He serves as the Socialists and Democrats Group Coordinator of the Committee on Legal Affairs and he is also member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee. Previously, Mr Berlinguer held a number of high level positions in Italy, among them, acting Minister of Higher Education and Scientific and Technological Research (1996-1998), Minister of Education (1996-2000), chair of the Italian Chamber of Deputies' Standing Committee on European Union Policies, member of the Senate Committee on European Communities Affairs, member of the Supreme Judicial Council (2002-2006). He is also Founder and former president of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ). Mr Berlinquer holds Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, French Legion of Honour and Grand Cross of the Republic of Italy.
Julia Laffranque
Julia Laffranque

is an Estonian jurist, judge, legal scientist. She has been a judge on the European Court of Human Rights since 2011, earlier a justice at the Supreme Court of Estonia and professor of European law at the University of Tartu. Ms Laffranque has also served as a President of International Federation for European Law (2011-2012), as well as President and beforehand Vice-president of the Council of Europe Consultative Council of European Judges (2006-2008). She is also President of the Estonian Association for European Law. Ms Laffranque holds 4th class Order of the White Star of the Republic of Estonia and Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite of the Republic of France.
Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser
Marcella Prunbauer-Glaser became president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) in 2012, having served as vice president from 2010. Ms Prunbauer-Glaser is an Austrian lawyer, partner of Prunbauer & Romig, Vienna. She is also Vice-President of the Austrian Bar and a member of the Vienna Bar Council. Her main practice areas are intellectual property law, trademarks, unfair competition, general corporate law and international transactions. She is also a lecturer at the Austrian Lawyers Academy and was formerly a lecturer at the Vienna Business School.
Miguel Carmona Ruano
Miguel Carmona Ruano is serving as a president of the Executive Board of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary for the period 2011-2012. He joined the Network’s Executive Board in 2008. He was President of the Provincial Court of Seville from 1992 to 2008, when he was appointed as a Member of the General Council for the Judiciary of Spain (CGPJ), chairing the Committee on International Relations. He is the author of many articles and has been lecturer on juridical subjects as criminal procedure, trial by jury, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and judicial organisation.
Joanna Goodey
Joanna Goodey is Head of the Freedoms and Justice Department at the FRA. Ms Goodey has a PhD in criminology. From the mid-1990s she held lectureships in criminology and criminal justice – first in the Law Faculty at the University of Sheffield, and then at the University of Leeds. Subsequent to that she was a research fellow at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for two years. Ms Goodey is the author of the academic textbook ‘Victims and Victimology: Research, Policy and Practice’ (2005), and co-editor of the book, together with A. Crawford, on ‘Integrating a Victim Perspective within Criminal Justice: International Perspectives’ (2000). To date, she has published over thirty academic journal articles and book chapters on issues ranging from the criminalisation of migrants, through to human trafficking and survey research.
Nils Muižnieks
Nils Muižnieks was elected Commissioner for Human Rights, the third person to hold the post, on 24 January 2012 by the Parliamentary Assembly and took up his position on 1 April 2012. Other posts he has held include: Chairman of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (2010-2012); Latvian minister responsible for social integration, anti-discrimination, minority rights, and civil society development (2002-2004); and Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies – now Latvian Human Rights Centre (1994-2002). Download speech.
Jonas Grimheden
Jonas Grimheden is programme manager for justice-related projects at the FRA, where he coordinates the work in the area of access to justice. He is presently working on studies related to victims support services; fundamental rights indicators and freedom to conduct a business. Before joining the FRA in 2009, Mr Grimheden was a researcher and teacher based at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI), at Lund University in Sweden where he was the Deputy Head of the Academic Department. Earlier he worked for the RWI with human rights development cooperation where he established and headed an office in China (1999–2000). As a specialist in international human rights law, Jonas Grimheden has conducted research and taught at both academic and practitioner levels in the US, Europe, and Asia. Download presentation (pdf).
Maija Sakslin
Maija Sakslin, is the Chairperson of the FRA Management Board and Finland’s Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman. She is an expert in constitutional and EU law, especially fundamental social rights and social security coordination in the EU. Previously, Ms Sakslin was a researcher at the Social Insurance Institution in Finland and at the Institution of International Economic Law at the University of Helsinki. She participated as an expert in a number of working groups and committees reforming the Finnish constitution. She also took part in various EU research projects, among them Observatory for Migrant workers and trESS, Training and reporting on social security coordination. View closing remarks.

Working group chairs

Dick Heimans
Dick Heimans is Deputy Head of the Criminal Law Unit in the Directorate-General for Justice of the European Commission. He is mainly responsible for managing and developing the European e-Justice Portal, but also involved in the criminal law work of the unit. He studied international and criminal law at Leiden University before joining the Dutch Ministry of Justice in 1989, where he worked on international law enforcement issues. In 1995, he became the first legal adviser to Europol, and in 1999 Head of the Legal Affairs unit at that organisation. In 2004, he joined the European Commission, where he has worked in policy areas such as cybercrime, counter-terrorism and protection of critical infrastructure before accepting his current position.
Nathalie Griesbeck
Nathalie Griesbeck has been Member of the European Parliament since 2004. She is Member of the French Democratic Movement national executive bureau and is part of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Ms Griesbeck is a Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and currently a rapporteur of the EP on Unaccompanied Minors. Before that she was permanent rapporteur on the Structural Funds for the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets (2005-2009) and Vice-Chairwoman of the Intergroup on the Family and Child Welfare (2004-2009). Ms Griesbeck is also Vice-Chairwoman of the Moselle Departmental Council and Chairwoman of the Committee on Social Affairs, Schools, Universities and Research (since 2011). She is also Knight of the Order of Academic Palms and Knight of the National Order of Merit.
Tadeusz Zwiefka
Tadeusz Zwiefka is a Polish politician who has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. He currently serves as a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) and Member of the Special Committee on Organised crime, corruption and money laundering (CRIM). He is also a Member of the Civic Platform National Executive, Member of the Board of the Hipolit Cegielski Society and a Spokesman for 'Stowarzyszenie Pomocy Mieszkaniowej dla Sierot', an association providing housing assistance to orphans. Previously Mr Zwiefka has held numerous positions at the Polish TV (TVP). He was an editor-in-chief of Polish TV regional centre in Poznan, later a journalist in central TVP1 news (Wiadomosci), parliamentary reporter and director of the Szczecin TV regional centre. He holds the Bronze Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland and Commander's Cross of the Order of St Stanislas.
Jozef de Witte
Jozef De Witte chairs the Executive Board of the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET). Since 2004, Mr de Witte has led the Belgian equality body and national human rights institution, the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism. The centre’s mission is to combat racism and discrimination and to promote equal opportunities on all grounds except gender, to inform the authorities on migration patterns; to guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of foreigners and to foster the fight against human trafficking. Recently, the Centre was appointed as the independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Giuseppe De Palo
Giuseppe De Palo is President of the ADR Center – member of JAMS International, the largest private mediation firm in continental Europe. A full-time mediator since 1998, he has contributed to the resolution of over 400 complex commercial disputes. Mr De Palo is also an international professor of Alternative Dispute Resolution Law and Practice at Hamline University School of Law (St. Paul, USA) and has written extensively on the subject, his latest book being EU Mediation Law and Practice, co-edited with Mary Trevor and published by Oxford University Press (November 2012). Over the last ten years, he has led teams on several large-scale projects - funded by the World Bank, the European Commission and the Inter-American Development Bank - to promote mediation on four different continents. Download: [article] [presentation] [speech]

Moderators

Sangita Myska is a BBC correspondent, presenter and journalist, currently working with the BBC. Sangita primarily works on the BBC’s rolling news network and has presented a range of current affairs programmes and documentaries. Among them, in 2008 Sangita Myska presented the BBC’s first under-cover investigation into child trafficking in the European Union. In 2012, Ms Myska became winner of the international Asian Woman of Achievement in the Media Award.
Friso Roscam Abbing
Friso Roscam Abbing has served as Head of Communication Department at the FRA since 2009. Prior to this, Mr Roscam Abbing was a Member of Cabinet of the European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, the Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice. From 2004–2008, he was the spokesman of European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini, the Commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice issues. Between 2000 and 2004, he headed the EU Asylum Polices sector at the European Commission's DG Justice, Freedom and Security. Before this, he led the EU Office of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE, 1994-2000) after starting his career as Head of the Legal Department at the Dutch Refugee Council (1986-1994).

 

Practical info

Practical info

Due to the limited capacity of the venue, participation is upon invitation only.
Participants were selected to represent the broadest possible range of fundamental rights concerns as well as geographical variety.

Contact FRA

For more information about the conference please contact us at: frc@fra.europa.eu

Location & how to get there

The FRC 2012 will be held on 6-7 December at the European Parliament in Brussels.

European Parliament
Jozsef Antall 4Q2

Rue Wiertz 60
B-1047 Brussels

Entrance for registered participants is exclusively through Altiero Spinelli (ASP) entrance at Place du Luxembourg.

Please do not forget to have your valid ID.


Media

The FRA is happy to answer any of your press related questions about the Fundamental Rights Conference 2011. Please send an email to press@fra.europa.eu or call us: +43 (0)1 58030-642 (direct line) or +43 (0)664 8858-1511 (mobile).

Past editions

Past editions

Every year the Fundamental Rights Conference brings together the key fundamental rights actors in the EU to examine a specific fundamental rights issue, stimulating the debate on challenges that exist and exploring solutions on how these could be overcome.

Fundamental Rights Conference 2012

Fundamental Rights Conference 2012

Justice in austerity

Budget cuts in the wake of the current economic crisis should not affect a person’s legal entitlement and right to access justice. This was the theme of the 2012 Fundamental Rights Conference, organised by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and held at the European Parliament in Brussels.

2012 Programme [en] [fr] (pdf)

 

 

 

Fundamental Rights Conference 2011

Fundamental Rights Conference 2011

Dignity and rights of irregular migrants

The conference was organised in cooperation with the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and discussed how to improve access to fundamental rights for migrants in an irregular situation, namely of those persons without authorisation to stay in the EU. The discussions were drawing on FRA’s EU-wide research on the situation of migrants in an irregular situation, which was published in the run-up to the conference. The conference discussions underlined the importance of applying a fundamental rights approach in migration management and offered a number of practical suggestions to facilitate access to justice, respect the right to education and health, preserve the best interests of the child, combat labour exploitation, reduce the use of immigration detention, and end situations of legal limbo for persons who are not removed.

2011 Programme [en] [fr] [pl] (pdf)

Summary conclusions[en] [fr] (pdf)

 

 

Fundamental Rights Conference 2010

Fundamental Rights Conference 2010

Ensuring justice and protection for all children

The previous FRC, held in Brussels on 7 -8 December 2010, stimulated the debate on challenges and strategies to protect particularly vulnerable children and deliver child-friendly justice in the European Union.

The emphasis during this conference was on exploring avenues for Member State authorities to better protect vulnerable children by following an integrated approach to child protection and involving civil society and children themselves.

2010 Programme [en] [fr] (pdf)
2010 Final report [en] (pdf)

Fundamental Rights Conference 2009

Fundamental Rights Conference 2009

Making rights a reality for all

Making rights a reality for all was the theme of the FRC 2009 which was held in cooperation with the Swedish Presidency of the EU in Stockholm on 10-11 December 2009.

The focus was on identifying solutions to protect and promote the rights of marginalised groups which are most vulnerable to discrimination and exclusion in the EU.

2009 Programme [en] (pdf)
2009 Final report [en] (pdf)

 

Fundamental Rights Conference 2008

Fundamental Rights Conference 2008

Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy - listening and communicating in a diverse Europe

The Fundamental Rights Agency launched its Fundamental Rights Conference in Paris on 8-9 December 2008.

The event examined key issues and challenges related to freedom of expression. Entitled "Freedom of expression, a cornerstone of democracy - listening and communicating in a diverse Europe", the conference aimed to contribute to policy and action within the European Union and to help shape the evolving space for communication among Europeans.

2008 Programme [en] (pdf)