FRA took part in a hearing of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on 30 March on means of better safeguarding the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU.
During his presentation, FRA Senior Legal Advisor Gabriel Toggenburg focused on findings to be published in the Agency’s forthcoming Annual Report. In discussing the situation of the Roma in the EU and highlighting ongoing segregation in education as a problem in a number of Member States, he emphasised that FRA’s comprehensive surveys enable policy makers and stakeholders to compare the situation of minorities across Member States and gauge trends over time.
Going on to discuss the fact that bias against particular ethnicities or religions is a frequent motivation for discrimination and hate crime, he stressed that data collection methods fall short in the majority of EU countries while rights awareness among victims remains low, problems that need to be overcome in order to ensure the fulfilment of fundamental rights for everyone living in the EU. Also important in this regard are indicators that can measure progress and inform targeted policies to counter discrimination and racially motivated crime.
Opening the first session of the discussion earlier in the day, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, underlined the need to regard fundamental rights not as “an afterthought” but rather as the essence of what the EU stands for. Acknowledging the work of FRA and the Council of Europe, he highlighted the need for the EU to mainstream fundamental rights. He also announced an annual high-level fundamental rights colloquium, to take place in October.