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The Annual Dialogue brought together members' representatives of local and regional authorities part of the CoR Commission for Citizenship, governance, institutional and external affairs (CIVEX), as well as representatives from other EU institutions and bodies.
"Despite the financial crisis and government attempts to reduce spending on fundamental rights, access to justice must be increased and not impeded. Access to justice is not a luxury that can be dispensed with," said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum in his opening remarks.
A panel of experts and practitioners from the Committee of the Regions, the European Commission (DG Justice), the FRA, the Council of Europe and the Open Society Institute discussed existing barriers to justice, and explored how to ensure access to justice for all, even in times of austerity.
Participants recognised the important role that local and regional authorities play facilitating access to justice, and encouraged relevant actors to:
- take into account the impact of austerity measures and to explore innovative solutions for improving access to justice mechanisms, such as e-justice;
- reinforce judicial redress and the availability of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, and non-judicial redress mechanisms, including Equality bodies, National Human Rights Institutions, and Ombudsperson institutions;
- share knowledge on existing good practices on the new tools that help to ensure access to justice for all;
- address the need for joined-up approach across all government levels, and work in partnership with civil society.
The conclusions of the Annual Dialogue will feed into this year’s Fundamental Rights Conference, organised by the FRA in cooperation with the European Parliament on 6–7 December 2012, in Brussels.
- António Costa, Chair of the CIVEX Commission, Committee of the Regions
- Morten Kjaerum, Director of the FRA
- Nikolas Kyriakou, Chair of the Council Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU