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Publication date:30 June 2020

Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 3

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to interrupt everyday life in the EU in unprecedented ways. But the way it affects our societies is shifting. As governments gradually lift some of the measures put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, new fundamental rights concerns arise: how to ensure that the rights to life and health are upheld as daily life transitions to a ‘new normal’. This Bulletin looks at declarations of states of emergency, or equivalent, and how they came under scrutiny. It considers the impact on fundamental rights in important areas of daily life, and includes a thematic focus on the pandemic's impact on older people

What?

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is collecting and analysing relevant data and information on the impact for people’s fundamental rights of the measures taken by EU Member States in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Agency’s multidisciplinary research network, FRANET, collects the data, complemented by desk research.

Why?

The impact on fundamental rights of the measures taken in the context of the outbreak have raised concerns globally. In an online vlog, for example, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty highlights the need to mitigate the impact of measures on people’s rights, to ensure that measures are necessary and proportionate to the evaluated risk and that their impact on certain groups, such as children and older people, are taken into account.

FRA’s research will identify key measures that government and public authorities in the 27 EU Member States took to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. It will describe their impact on selected key fundamental rights such as non-discrimination and equality, freedom of movement, privacy and data protection.

How?

FRA will collect information on:

  • public health measures taken in response to the outbreak and how they affect certain rights (e.g. impact of quarantine and social distancing measures on free movement in general);
  • how measures may disproportionately affect certain groups (e.g. impact of school closures on working women; impact of business closures on self-employed persons and people with low incomes);
  • the impact of the outbreak on certain national or ethnic communities where the virus is reported to be widespread (including data concerning incidents of xenophobic speech, acts of harassment, and violent attacks against such communities);
  • instances of infringement of privacy and/or data protection rights related to the outbreak;
  • Member State level practices that could be considered ‘promising’ in the context of:
    • government/public authorities taking into account how certain measures may disproportionately affect specific groups, and taking extra measures to address this.
    • action taken to counter the spread of disinformation online.

It should be noted that while FRA is focusing its data collection on these issues, the final content of the report may differ slightly as the situation varies across EU Member States and is evolving rapidly.

Findings

FRA will issue a short report on its website in the second week of April 2020.