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Publication date:23 March 2011

Access to justice in Europe: an overview of challenges and opportunities

This report provides an EU-wide comparative analysis of the effectiveness of access to justice, across the EU Member States. Launched on 23 March at the conference "Protecting victims in the EU: the road ahead" hosted in Budapest by the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU with the support of the FRA, the report emphasises obstacles making it difficult for victims to enforce their rights.


The project aimed at identifying obstacles in accessing judicial and non-judicial bodies, such as equality bodies. It also aimed to map promising practices that facilitate access to justice for people who feel that their rights have been violated, such as victims of discrimination. It resulted in a comprehensive overview of the situation across the EU, and provide Member States, European institutions, judicial practitioners and civil society actors with new evidence on how to improve and facilitate access to justice.


FRA research shows that fundamental rights in various areas of life are regularly violated. Access to justice is a core fundamental right of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights which also has a bearing on many other fundamental rights. The principle of non-discrimination is also firmly established in EU legislation and includes provisions relating to access to justice. 


The legal analysis, launched in March 2011, provides an understanding of the degree to which access to justice is available, or not available, for individuals seeking to claim rights derived from EU law through national courts, complemented by non-judicial mechanisms. It highlights problems that result in victims being deterred or unable to enforce their rights by taking cases to court.

The sociological analysis, launched in December 2012, examines the process of seeking redress in cases of discrimination and provides a detailed analysis of how institutions that deal with cases of discrimination support victims. It examines the factors obstructing effective remedies, such as the complexity of the complaints system, which can discourage people from bringing cases and reinforce feelings of helplessness. It also identifies the factors that best enable effective remedies. Qualitative interviews provide evidence about the challenges on the ground relating to access to justice. Interviews are being held with people who have brought a complaint, with lawyers, representatives of NGOs providing advice and support to complainants, and with representatives of equality bodies.

This project page was last updated on 02.03.2015.