FRA exhibition at European Parliament highlights Agency’s work, data protection, hate crime reports

Panel debate at the opening of the fundamental rights exhibition on 26 November 2012 in Brussels. R-L: Jan Albrecht MEP, Giovanni Buttarelli (EDPS), Marie-Helene Boulanger (DG Justice), Jan Mulder MEP, Mario Oetheimer (FRA), Kinga Göncz MEP
Panel debate at the opening of the fundamental rights exhibition on 26 November 2012 in Brussels. R-L: Jan Albrecht MEP, Giovanni Buttarelli (EDPS), Marie-Helene Boulanger (DG Justice), Jan Mulder MEP, Mario Oetheimer (FRA), Kinga Göncz MEP
In the run-up to this year’s Fundamental Rights Conference on the theme “Justice in times of austerity” (Brussels, 6-7 December), the FRA held an exhibition at the European Parliament on 26-29 November, highlighting the work of the Agency in documenting the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (EU).

The exhibition opened on 26 November with a panel discussion on the EU data protection reform and its fundamental rights implications for EU policies in the areas of freedom, security and justice.

The panel debate drew on the recent FRA opinion regarding the proposed data protection reform. It brought the FRA together with key actors in this field: the European Commission (Data Protection Unit, DG Justice), the European Parliament (MEPs Jan Albrecht, Rapporteur Data Protection Directive, and Jan Mulder, Rapporteur EUROSUR) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (Giovanni Buttarelli, Assistant to the EDPS).

The discussion enabled an exchange on the main considerations raised in the FRA opinion, such as the inclusion of an explicit provision of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the data protection reform. It also allowed for reflection on the right of data protection and impact on other fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression.

The panellists noted that the EU needs a comprehensive and consistent approach across all policies when they are related to or include the processing of data. An example is EUROSUR (the European external border surveillance system): MEP Mulder stressed that as a Rapporteur for the proposal, data protection safeguards were expressly enhanced in its report.

On the final day of the exhibition (29 November), the FRA also presented two new reports on hate crime and minorities as victims of crime.