Salzburg Forum looks to help shape our rights-based common future

The Agency addressed the Salzburg Forum of national interior and foreign affairs ministers in Sarajevo on 7 April outlining its views on how we can shape our common future based on shared values, fundamental rights and freedoms.

The Head of its Fundamental Rights Promotion Department, Friso Roscam Abbing, reminded participants how Europe is at a crossroads and the steps it take now could well determine its future. He spoke of the pressing new to get smart in how we communicate rights and values, particularly now populism has tapped into the mood of the people.

That’s why the Agency is thinking outside the box and will bring together experts in June from a range of disciplines not traditionally linked to rights to explore new ways of communicating rights and address current challenges.

He also talked about the need to “listen, engage and respond. We must retake the initiative and show that we understand that the people’s concerns are also our concerns,” he said. For this we also need partners for dialogue and robust facts such as the data FRA provides as they “can provide a solid platform for frank discussion and debate rather than a makeshift stage built on the shifting sands of prejudice, hearsay and ill-informed opinion.

He also spoke about the need to improve rights awareness and citizenship education. These will provide a sound basis for building inclusive and socially cohesive societies of mutual respect and tolerance and a true sense of belonging to a common Europe of values.

The event builds on the Forum’s previous conferences and the Vienna Declaration on tackling violent extremism and terrorism.