The results are primarily intended to inform EU institutions, Member State governments and institutions – including National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies and Ombuds Institutions – alongside human rights defenders and civil society organisations, about the place of fundamental rights in EU societies – based on what people think and experience. The findings provide an evidence base to inform action on fundamental rights, which – ultimately – can be used to achieve an impact on fundamental rights in practice and to ensure the effective implementation of fundamental rights obligations.
FRA will publish further results from the survey in 2020–2021, both in report format as well as through an interactive online data explorer.
This is an overview of the main findings from the ‘What do rights mean for people in the EU?’ report drawn from FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey. It is the first comprehensive, EU-wide survey of people’s experiences and views on fundamental rights.
See our methodology Q&A for more information on how FRA carried out the survey.
Discussions on fundamental rights do not necessarily reflect what people understand by them or how they experience them in their everyday lives, nor do they necessarily reflect what people are most concerned about.
With this in mind, the survey explores how people in the EU view democratic values. Can they enjoy their fundamental rights? Do they think the courts and media function freely? What do they think about politicians and about corruption?
FRA’s survey captured the views of old and young, people with different levels of education, men and women, those who are struggling on their present income, and those who are comfortably off.
The results will help policymakers and human rights organisations make evidence-based decisions to promote and protect human rights.
In particular, the Agency suggests:
This is a brief overview of how FRA carried out its Fundamental Rights Survey. More details will be available in the forthcoming Technical Report.
It is the first comprehensive, EU-wide survey of people’s experiences and views on fundamental rights.
See our main findings Q&A for more information on the survey results.
The results published today focus on respondents’ opinions about human rights, functioning of society, and public bodies that have a duty to enforce human rights law and protect people’s rights.
In 19 countries, trained interviewers contacted the respondents in person. They asked interviewed respondents and asked them to complete the survey using a tablet computer.
In 10 countries, respondents were asked to complete the questionnaire online. They received letters by mail inviting them to participate in the survey.
In France and Germany, already existing online panels were used to invite people to take part in the survey. In these two countries, quotas ensured that the sample size corresponded with the structure of the total population in terms of age, gender, employment status, education and region.
Ipsos MORI colllected the data on behalf of FRA, in cooperation with Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in the Netherlands, the Centre des Technologies de l'Information de l'Etat (CTIE) in Luxembourg and Statistics Austria in Austria.
FRA will also make an extensive set of survey results available through an online data explorer on its website in November 2020.
It also aims to make the microdata and full dataset available in 2021-2022.
This report will be the first in a series of thematic reports drawing on the survey results.
“Human rights are losing their importance, we must not forget that they are the foundations of our democracy.”
(Woman, between 30 and 44 years old, survey respondent, France)
“In practice, basic human rights do not apply to all citizens equally and there exist first and second class citizens.”
(Woman, between 45 and 54 years old, survey respondent, Croatia)
“I have been heartened by recent referenda regarding same-sex marriage, abortion and divorce […] and I feel proud to be a citizen and part of positive cultural change.”
(Woman, between 30 and 44 years old, survey respondent, Ireland)
“Estonia is generally a country where human rights are respected, but the problem is, in my opinion, that it is hard to cope for people with low incomes (pensioners, people with disabilities).”
(Man, between 16 and 29 years old, survey respondent, Estonia)
“The Netherlands is mainly doing okay with protecting human rights, but would do well to continue to focus on a more transparent and more citizen-oriented democracy.”
(Man, between 16 and 29 years old, survey respondent, the Netherlands)
“So what I think is important, everybody always says that we can’t change anything anyways, but it is at least a small start to go to vote, I mean how many youths don’t go to vote at all anymore. And then they ultimately get upset about the ones who are still there.”
(Woman, between 18 and 29 years old, focus-group participant, Germany)
“Human rights are followed when one has political contacts. The common person is unprotected.”
(Woman, 65+ years old, survey respondent, Spain)
“Judges must not be interfered with, we must let them do their job. And then I think we’ll have a good judicial system.”
(Man, 65+ years old, focus-group participant, Greece)
“You need connections to be appointed a judge in the first place, so the influence begins even at this stage.”
(Woman, between 45 and 54 years old, focus-group participant, Bulgaria)
“I think we have to look up too much ourselves about our rights. We do not get informed enough.”
(Woman, 65+ years old, survey respondent, Belgium)
“As a mother of a disabled child, it is appalling to experience how little help and guidance you get in relation to rights, opportunities etc.”
(Woman, between 30 and 44 years old, survey respondent, Denmark)
“I would like public authorities to guarantee and defend my rights and the rights of other people and that the laws should work equally for all.”
(Woman, between 45 and 54 years old, survey respondent, Lithuania)
“An application I made to a national authority was rejected without explanation. I made a complaint and wait the response for 6 months... is a matter of health...”
(Man, 65+ years old, survey respondent, Cyprus)
“I find it very difficult to obtain information regarding, for example, pension conditions, etc., since the French state and the Danish state do not necessarily work together. It can be seen as a major obstacle to the free movement of EU countries.”
(Man, between 54 and 64 years old, survey respondent, Denmark)
“The public administration works too slowly, it sometimes takes weeks to receive a response to requests, and when it does, the information is so cluttered that it cannot be understood.”
(Man, 65+ years old, survey respondent, Germany)
“Public hospital doctors always expect a gift in order to take better care of you.”
(Man, between 16 and 29 years old, survey respondent, Cyprus)
“For example when you have to pay heavy money to the gynaecologist so that you will be treated as a human being in the hospital — and that’s absolutely general, there’s nothing unusual about it.”
(Woman, between 30 and 44 years old, focus-group participant, Hungary)