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Publication date:25 July 2011

FRA Symposium report - Using indicators to measure fundamental rights in the EU: challenges and solutions

This report provides an overview of the Symposium's proceedings.


FRA is developing indicators on fundamental rights in the EU to improve comparability of research findings, and to highlight gaps in current provision and availability of data. This work complements and builds upon other efforts to develop human rights indicators and monitor processes at EU and international level. 


Among Member States there are differences in data collection ranging from the definitions of what should be measured and why, to the actual methods used to collect data. Recognising that fundamental rights indicators can be invaluable for shedding light on the state of fundamental rights on the ground, FRA seeks to develop indicators related to key fundamental rights areas addressed through its research. This in turn will help EU institutions and Member States identify where there is a need to improve the fulfilment of fundamental rights. 


FRA draws on approaches that have been established by key players; in particular the conceptual framework proposed by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which identifies three types of indicators to measure progress in the implementation of fundamental rights: structural indicators, process indicators and outcome indicators. These correspond to three levels which can be used to measure and evaluate the implementation of fundamental rights: commitment, effort and results. Adapting this model to fit the EU context, the FRA is developing indicators in areas covered by FRA’s work.

Graph explaining the research methodology

One example is the area of disability rights. FRA will work on rights-based indicators for people with disabilities according to the framework developed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on selected rights covered by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This work will draw on the work of key EU and UN actors, such as:

FRA will also test and apply the indicators in practice and use them to guide its research and data collection activities (e.g. its surveys which collect primary data,  such as for the Roma). In addition, FRA will fill data gaps where needed.