29
July
2020

Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 4

As we enter the second half of 2020, the constraints on our daily lives
brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic have become a firm reality.
New local lockdowns and the reintroduction of restrictive measures
prompted by fresh outbreaks of the virus are a stark reminder that
COVID-19 continues to shape our lives – and our enjoyment of fundamental
rights – in profound ways. There is compelling evidence of how the
pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges in our societies. This FRA
Bulletin outlines some of the measures EU Member States adopted to
safely reopen their societies and economies while continuing to mitigate
the spread of COVID-19. It highlights the impact these measures may have
on civil, political and socioeconomic rights.
Overview

As we enter the second half of 2020, the constraints on our daily lives brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have become a firm reality. New local lockdowns and the reintroduction of restrictive measures prompted by fresh outbreaks of the virus are a stark reminder that COVID-19 continues to shape our lives – and our enjoyment of fundamental rights – in profound ways.

The stabilisation of COVID-19 infections across much of the European Union (EU) provides a moment to reflect on the immense contribution of institutions and people from across our diverse societies who have stepped up to promote and protect fundamental rights. Medical staff and other frontline workers have ensured that essential services kept running. Courts have pushed back against excessive regulation. National bodies – National Human Rights Institutions, Equality Bodies, Ombuds and Data Protection Authorities, among others – have provided much-needed monitoring, guidance and advice. Civil society has not only advocated for rights, but delivered vital services, often incredibly creatively. Their contributions can provide a blueprint for dealing with future crisis situations, and it is crucial that their stories are heard.

At the same time, looking across this series of four bulletins, there is compelling evidence of how the pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges in our societies. Sections of our populations have exploited COVID-19 to attack minorities already subject to appalling levels of discrimination and hate crime. The rapid spread of disinformation risks undermining trust in the measures and institutions essential to containing the virus. Women have taken on a disproportionate share of caring responsibilities prompted by the closure of schools and support services, endangering hard-fought progress towards gender equality.

The gradual reduction in the constraints on our lives shines the light on us, on our personal and social responsibility to contain the pandemic and mitigate its effects. Delivering on that responsibility, both individually and collectively, is our greatest fundamental rights challenge going forward.

Key findings