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Trust in the European Union between its people, communities and in its governments has suffered over the last decade. The Director emphasised that respecting fundamental rights is one way of regaining trust and rebuilding confidence within the European Union.
He also focused on three key areas from the Annual Report which dominated fundamental rights concerns in 2013 and are directly related to the future of justice and home affairs. They were data protection, victims’ rights and migration. They all revealed issues related to access to justice and the need to strengthen mechanisms to promote and protect fundamental rights.
He noted that as European-level mechanisms are being strengthened, it is important that national mechanisms are equally strong. The Annual Report underlines that new laws are not needed, but rather current ones should be strengthened, implemented and made more effective.
He called for a stronger strategic framework at EU level to support better legislation in conformity with fundamental rights. The Court of Justice’s recent judgment on the data retention directive highlights this point.
He indicated that establishing an EU fundamental rights policy cycle would improve policy and law making. It would create opportunities for concerted action, and greater coherence between policies at EU and national level when it comes to the promotion and protection of fundamental rights.
A policy cycle would also assure that national experiences feed into EU-level policy developments, and that EU-level developments are implemented on the ground.
The JHA Council Meeting comes during a period of transition for the European Union. A new European Parliament has been elected and the new EU Commissioners will be selected later this year.