Fundamental rights for all: Local authorities are the first listening post

How to raise the awareness of citizens about their rights will be the topic of the seminar on "Multi-level protection of fundamental rights",jointly organised by the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), under the auspices of the Province of Reggio Emilia, in Reggio Emilia on 19 September. The outcome of the seminar will feed into a CoR opinion, which will be presented by Sonia Masini (IT/PES), President of the province of Reggio Emilia at the plenary session of 8-9 October.

According to a recent study by the European Commission, less than one-third of EU citizens consider themselves "properly informed about their rights as citizens of the Union." In view of this, local and regional authorities "can act as a link between the institutions and citizens" said Sonia Masini. "As they are in touch with citizens, their needs and their points of view, they are the bodies with the most direct and realistic understanding of how far the rights established by the European Union are actually applied."

"Our common goal is to protect and promote fundamental rights. We therefore work with cities and regions in order to raise the profile of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and to make people in Europe fully realise their rights. The aim is not harmonisation, but higher standards in general", said FRA's Director Morten Kjaerum.

The seminar will focus on the crucial role played by local and regional authorities in the protection and raising awareness of fundamental rights, enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Its aim is to listen to the difficulties of those on the ground and benefit from their experiences.

Local and regional authorities are at the front line for promoting fundamental rights, in view of their extensive powers in the fields of education, health, transport or employment, as well as their monitoring of welfare assistance and data collection measures.

Key speakers at this seminar included:

  • Claudio Martini,  Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Commission of the CoR and President of the Region of Tuscany;
  • Michelino Davico, Under-Secretary for Home Affairs in the Italian Government;
  • Kinga Gál, Member of the European Parliament, rapporteur on the promotion and protection of fundamental rights;
  • Friso Roscam Abbing, Member of the Cabinet of Mr Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible of Justice, Freedom and Security;
  • Morten Kjaerum, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Committee of the Regions website:

FRA Media Team
Tel: +43 (1) 580 30 633