FRA Newsletter - December 2009

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FRA Newsletter - December 2009

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FRA launches the main results report - EU-MIDIS survey

On 9 December 2009, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released the results of its survey (EU-MIDIS) of over 23,000 individuals from ethnic minority and immigrant groups about their experiences of discrimination, racist crime, and policing in the EU. The Agency launched its Report in Stockholm, at the press conference in the European Commission, Representation in Sweden.

The results reveal shocking evidence about the discrimination faced by minorities in everyday life; in the classroom, when looking for work, at the doctor's, or in shops. On the eve of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, the FRA calls for targeted policies to combat the marginalisation of these groups.

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "The results of the EU-MIDIS survey reveal the serious difficulties faced by significant numbers of those from ethnic minority and immigrant groups in accessing the most basic of services. Discrimination in education is particularly damaging as it can have a negative impact on young people's opportunities in the labour market. Actors at all levels, from governments to service providers, must use this evidence, collected on the ground through in-depth interviews, to develop targeted policies to prevent the exclusion of these groups from European societies."

FRA Fundamental Rights Conference in Stockholm (FRC)

On 10 and 11 December 2009, on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, the Fundamental Rights Agency launched its second annual Fundamental Rights Conference (FRC) in Stockholm. In doing so, the Agency aimed to highlight the importance of human rights at the European level, to identify the challenges that obstruct easier access to justice, and to begin to plan strategies for increasing awareness surrounding all rights issues in the wake of the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Fundamental Rights Conference is a forum for policy-makers, practitioners and experts to examine key fundamental rights challenges and develop courses of action that better guarantee their protection. This year's conference was entitled ‘Making rights a reality for all' and focused on marginalised groups which are most vulnerable to rights violations, discrimination and exclusion in the EU, with the situation of the Roma as a prominent topic. The conference also examined and discussed the findings of the full EU-MIDIS report. In his opening speech, FRA Director Morten Kjaerum talked about both the challenges and opportunities that Europe faces in its ever-diversifying cultural and political environment.

The two-day conference was held in cooperation with the Swedish Presidency of the EU, and brought together 230 representatives of governments, EU institutions, NGOs, social partners, data collection and monitoring bodies, intergovernmental organisations, national human rights institutions and equality bodies from across the European Union.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, FRA Director Morten Kjaerum as well as Sweden's Minister for Integration and Gender Equality, Nyamko Sabuni and others addressed the Conference.

Find a summary, speeches, and videos of the Fundamental Rights Conference 2009 at:

Diversity Days in Barcelona, Berlin, and Vienna

The FRA's youth awareness raising projects Diversity Day took place in three European cities this year - Barcelona, Berlin, and Vienna.

On 18 November the FRA youth event Diversity Day had its premiere in Berlin. This was the first in a series of three events this year, which aimed to educate young people about fundamental rights and make them aware of the benefits of diversity. The next Diversity Day event took place in Barcelona on 30 November. The FRA and its partner, the Municipality of Barcelona were able to bring 1,200 young people to the Olympic Sports Centre of Vall d'Hebron to experience diversity and learn about fundamental rights in a very variegated and interactive event programme. Under the slogan "Vielfalt macht Schule" , the FRA's annual event in Vienna was staged on 3 December attracting around 3,000 young people not only from the Agency's host city Vienna but also from cities in the neighboring Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

The FRA together with the city partners in all the three cities brought together more than 4,500 young people on the Diversity Day events, managed by Thomas Tschernkowitsch and Sandra Aigner (FRA), to learn about fundamental rights, exchange views and celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity. Music, dance, workshops, and NGOs all collaborated on creating a vibrant, colourful and engaging atmosphere in which young people had the possibility to celebrate individual and cultural identities. The enthusiasm of students, teachers, performers and staff alike made for a fascinating and rewarding day for all concerned.

Second Annual Dialogue on Multilevel Protection and Promotion of Fundamental Rights

This year's Annual Dialogue was a joint Committee of the Regions (CoR) and FRA conference on the Rights of the Child, and took place on 13 November in Brussels. Highlighting the situation of children in the EU, the discussions about use of indicators on the rights of the child, combating child trafficking by the local and regional level authorities were a centre of the day's debate. The conference aimed to exchange evidence of good practices from concrete projects carried out at local and regional level, promote benchmarking and foster debate on developing policy orientations in this field. In 2008, at the request of the European Commission, the Agency developed, rights of the child indicators, which were further developed into follow-up projects:

  • 1.      The situation of asylum seeking children and
  • 2.      Child Trafficking in the EU - Challenges, perspectives and good practices. 

The Council of Europe was invited to be involved by the Agency at an early stage of defining the Agenda and took active part in the Seminar.  The Director, in his presentation to the Annual Dialogue, pointed to the need to develop joined-up mechanisms for rights to be protected across levels of government and international human rights standards to trickle down to the local level. 

FRA participated in Equality Summit 2009

The Agency attended the third EU Equality Summit  on 16-17 November in Stockholm. The Summit is an annual event for national governments, equality bodies, NGOs, social partners and representatives of international organisations. This year's Summit focused on the theme of "Cooperation for Equality". The FRA gave a keynote presentation in the working group on "Equality Legislation - Today and Tomorrow" presenting findings of its study on homophobia and data on multiple discrimination emerging from EU-MIDIS The presentation offered evidence of the need to develop a common basic level of protection for all grounds of discrimination across all EU Member States and thus supported the Commission's proposal for a new horizontal anti-discrimination directive (also known as "Article 13 Directive")

Beyond the call to agree on the new anti-discrimination directive, the Equality Summit concluded with the following key messages which are of relevance to the FRA's work, including the need:

  • to foster cooperation between actors from local to EU levels
  • to develop efficient measures to tackle multiple discrimination
  • to address the situation of LGBT and Roma citizens as particularly vulnerable persons
  • to mainstream equality into all public sector activities

The FRA presentation on EU-MIDIS included the Presidency's summary of the Equality Summit:

Austria's Human Rights Film Festival 2009, 'this human world'

On 3 December 2009 the second annual human rights film festival was opened in partnership with the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in Vienna. The programme was introduced by Agency representative Friso Roscam-Abbing, who emphasised the importance of film in bringing human rights issues and violations to life, revealing the personal tragedies behind the impersonal statistics.

Friso Roscam-Abbing: ‘Your films give us the chance, if only for 90 minutes, to think the thoughts and feel the feelings of those whose human rights abuses often go overlooked or are unseen in our everyday lives: those of vulnerable persons, of immigrants, refugees, minorities, people being trafficked, people having another color of skin or sexual orientation or religion than the majority has. Your "high resolution" artistic products are vital in reminding us that ultimately we really should want to live in a "human world".'

'this human world' festival took place from 3-13 December, and included documentaries, short films and featured films on all aspects of human rights.

2. Key upcoming FRA Publications


  • Comparative Report: The role of historical sites in holocaust education and human rights education
  • Summary report: The role of historical sites in holocaust education and human rights education
  • available now both in print and online: S'cool Agenda (en, de, fr)

3. Key FRA Events

  • 2nd Consultation Meeting on Multiple and Intersectional Discrimination, 21 - 22 January
  • Racism and social marginalization: potential pathway to violent radicalisation, 25 - 26 January


The following vacancies were published on the FRA website: