Rising unemployment rates, fiscal consolidation and austerity measures across the European Union (EU), as well as public protest and constitutional conflicts in some EU Member States, all captured headlines in 2012. The crisis that the EU has been facing over the course of the past five years transcends issues of finance. It has implications for democratic legitimacy and the rule of law, and therefore also for the respect of fundamental rights. The seriousness of the situation prompted discussions about the nature, scope and future of the EU. The crisis and its consequences called for action from institutional and policy actors at all levels of governance, civil society organisations and the general public to ensure that the EU and its Member States uphold their fundamental rights obligations.
The Focus of the 2012 FRA Annual report is not limited to the socio‑economic crisis, nor does it aim to explore its origins. Instead, it looks at the different crisis situations, including the constitutional crisis that unfolded in single EU Member States. It emphasises responses taken at EU and Member State level to safeguard the values ‘common’ to both Member States and the EU.