Fundamental Rights Report 2019 - FRA Opinions

The year 2018 brought both progress and setbacks in terms of fundamental rights protection. FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2019 reviews major developments in the field, identifying both achievements and remaining areas of concern. This page presents FRA’s opinions on the main developments in the thematic areas covered, and a synopsis of the evidence supporting these opinions. In so doing, it provides a compact but informative overview of the main fundamental rights challenges confronting the EU and its Member States.

1. Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU: a matter of human and fundamental rights

This chapter explores the interrelationship between the human and fundamental rights framework and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the global Agenda 2030 in the context of Member States’ and the EU’s internal policies. It focuses on the SDGs related to reducing inequality (SDG 10) and promoting peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).

The chapter highlights the importance of collecting disaggregated data on hard-to-reach population groups to develop evidence-based, targeted and rights-compliant policies that help empower everyone, particularly those most at risk of being left behind.

The chapter also examines how the EU and its Member States are following up on their commitment to embed a rights-based approach to sustainable development; looks at policy coordination tools and financial instruments that can help to promote SDG implementation in full respect of fundamental rights; and emphasises the importance of national human rights institutions, equality bodies and Ombuds institutions, as well as local authorities, business communities and civil society, in mainstreaming the human rights dimension of SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals poster showing icons for each of the 17 goals

In this chapter:

  • Linking Sustainable Development Goals and human rights at the international level
  • Implementing Sustainable Development Goals in the EU: what do available data show?
  • Tools for implementing SDGs in line with fundamental rights obligations in the EU and its Member States

Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU: a matter of human and fundamental rights   
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  • FRA opinion 1.1

    The EU institutions should ensure that any future EU strategy for sustainable growth reflects, as appropriate, all SDGs and targets set by the global Agenda 2030, including the SDG on reducing inequality (SDG 10) and the SDG on promoting peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16). Such a strategy should promote the mainstreaming and the implementation of SDGs, acknowledging the close links between all 17 SDGs and fundamental rights, as enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. EU Member States should adopt a similar approach when designing or revising their sustainable development strategies or action plans. 

  • FRA opinion 1.2

    The EU’s European Semester policy cycle, in particular the European Commission’s assessment and the resulting country-specific recommendations, should take into account the global Agenda 2030 and its sustainable development goals, as well as the relevant human and fundamental rights obligations enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and international human rights law. In this respect, for example, country-specific recommendations could include in their considerations the links between them and the implementation of specific SDGs and the respect of EU Charter provisions.

  • FRA opinion 1.3

    EU Member States should involve civil society in all its manifestations and all its levels in the delivery of the SDGs. In this regard, they could consider the model of the European Commission’s high-level multi-stakeholder platform on the implementation of the sustainable development goals as an inspirational example. In addition, they could consider inviting civil society organisations to be actively involved in SDG-implementation and monitoring activities, as well as to take measures to empower them through training and funding based on a concrete roadmap for their implementation.

  • FRA opinion 1.4

    The EU legislator should adopt the new enabling condition covering the effective application and implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as laid down in the Common Provisions Regulation proposed by the European Commission for the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. Such a strengthened form of conditionality would provide an additional means for promoting a rights-based implementation of SDGs. As a means to promote further achievement of the SDG on peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16), the EU institutions should continue the discussion and pursue the objective of protecting the Union's budget in case of generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law in the Member States.

  • FRA opinion 1.5

    EU Member States should ensure the active and meaningful participation of national human rights institutions, equality bodies or Ombuds institutions in monitoring committees of EU-funded programmes, and monitoring and coordination mechanisms of the implementation of the SDGs. As FRA has repeatedly underlined, in this respect Member States should provide them with adequate resources and assistance to develop their capacity to carry out these tasks. 

  • FRA opinion 1.6

    The EU institutions and Member States should consider using all available statistical data and other available evidence on discrimination and bias-motivated violence or harassment, as well as data on violence against women, to complement their reporting on relevant SDG indicators, including data and evidence provided by FRA. Member States should collect and disaggregate data relevant for the implementation of SDGs, particularly as regards vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups of the population, to ensure that no one is left behind. In this respect, they should consult FRA data to identify if these data can add and provide disaggregation to their national reporting and monitoring. Furthermore, Member States should promote the cooperation of national statistical authorities with national human rights institutions, equality bodies or Ombuds institutions. Member States should consider using the expert technical assistance and guidance of FRA in this field.

2. EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by Member States

In 2018, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was in force as the EU’s legally binding bill of rights for the ninth year. It complements national constitutions and international human rights instruments, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

As in previous years, the Charter’s role and usage at national level remained ambivalent. National courts did use the Charter. Although many references to the Charter were superficial, various court decisions show that the Charter can add value and make a difference. Impact assessments and legislative scrutiny procedures in a number of Member States also used the Charter. This was, however, far from systematic and appeared to be the exception rather than the rule. Moreover, governmental policies aimed at promoting application of the Charter appeared to remain very rare exceptions, even though Article 51 of the Charter obliges states to proactively “promote” the application of its provisions.

The Charter’s tenth anniversary in 2019 provides an opportunity to inject more political momentum into unfolding the Charter’s potential.

Stack of mini books of EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in different EU languages

In this chapter:

  • National (high) courts’ use of the Charter: a mixed picture
  • National legislative processes and parliamentary debates: rare use of the Charter 12

Chapter 2. EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by Member States

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 2.1

    EU Member States should launch initiatives and policies aimed at promoting awareness and implementation of the Charter at national level, so that the Charter can play a significant role wherever it applies. Such initiatives and policies should be evidence based, ideally by building on regular assessments of the use and awareness of the Charter in the national landscape.
    More specifically, Member States should ensure that targeted and needs-based training modules on the Charter and its application are offered regularly to national judges and other legal practitioners in a manner that meets demand and guarantees ‘buy-in’.

  • FRA opinion 2.2

    EU Member States should aim to track the Charter’s actual use in national case law and legislative and regulatory procedures, with a view to identifying shortcomings and concrete needs for better implementation of the Charter at national level. For instance, EU Member States should review their national procedural rules on legal scrutiny and impact assessments of bills from the perspective of the Charter. Such procedures should explicitly refer to the Charter, just as they do to national human rights instruments, to minimise the risk that the Charter is overlooked.

3. Equality and non-discrimination

The year 2018 saw mixed progress regarding EU legal and policy instruments to promote equality and non-discrimination. While the Council of the EU had still not adopted the proposed Equal Treatment Directive after 10 years of negotiations, the European Commission proposed EU financial instruments in the context of the EU’s new multi-annual financial framework that support anti-discrimination policies at EU and national level. The Commission also issued a Recommendation on standards for equality bodies, providing useful guidance on strengthening protection against discrimination.

The EU continued to engage with Member States to support their efforts to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality, and several Member States introduced legal and policy measures to that effect. Bans on religious clothing and symbols continued to trigger controversies.

Meanwhile, the EU and Member States took diverse steps to strengthen the collection and use of equality data, and a range of studies and surveys published in 2018 provided evidence on the extent and forms of discrimination that people experience in the EU.

Composite image: FRA icon of community assistance; Illustration of 3 people on ladders of different heights; charts and graphs

In this chapter:

  • Commission proposes financial instruments to support non-discrimination while Equal Treatment Directive remains in deadlock
  • Recommendation on equality bodies highlights need to strengthen effectiveness and functional independence
  • Diverse efforts promote LGBTI equality
  • Debate around religious symbols and practices persists
  • EU and Member States bolster collection and use of equality data
  • Discrimination based on age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity remains an everyday reality

Chapter 3. Equality and non-discrimination

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 3.1

    In view of the overwhelming evidence of discrimination on different grounds in areas such as education, social protection and access to goods and services, including housing, the EU legislator should step up efforts to adopt the Equal Treatment Directive. This would ensure that EU legislation offers comprehensive protection against discrimination in key areas of life, including on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation.

  • FRA opinion 3.2

    EU Member States should ensure that equality bodies can fulfil effectively and independently the tasks assigned to them in the EU’s non-discrimination legislation. This entails ensuring that equality bodies are allocated sufficient human, financial and technical resources. When doing so, Member States should give due consideration to the European Commission’s Recommendation on standards for equality bodies as well as ECRI’s revised General Policy Recommendation no. 2.

  • FRA opinion 3.3

    In line with the principle of equal treatment and the EU equality directives, EU Member States should consider introducing measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to any of the protected grounds. Such disadvantages could be identified through the analysis of data on discrimination experiences in key areas of life, which should be collected systematically in the EU.

  • FRA opinion 3.4

    EU Member States are encouraged to continue adopting and implementing specific measures to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons can fully avail themselves of all their fundamental rights available under EU and national law. In doing so, Member States are encouraged to use the list of actions to advance LGBTI equality published by the European Commission to guide their efforts.

  • FRA opinion 3.5

    EU Member States should ensure that any legal restrictions on symbols or garments associated with religion comply fully with international human rights law, including relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Any legislative or administrative proposal that risks limiting the freedom to express one’s religion or belief should embed fundamental rights considerations and fully respect the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.

  • FRA opinion 3.6

    EU Member States should adopt a coordinated approach to equality data collection and ensure reliable, valid and comparable equality data disaggregated by protected characteristics, based on self-identification and in compliance with the principles and safeguards set out under the General Data Protection Regulation. When doing so, Member States should give due consideration to the guidelines on improving the collection and use of equality data adopted by the EU High Level Group on Non-Discrimination, Equality and Diversity. As a future step, EU institutions and bodies should consider applying these guidelines within their own structures.

4. Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance

Eighteen years after the adoption of the Racial Equality Directive and 10 years after the adoption of the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, people with minority backgrounds and migrants continue to face widespread harassment, structural discrimination, entrenched prejudice and discriminatory ethnic profiling across the EU, as the findings of FRA’s 2018 surveys and reports of human rights bodies show.

Several Member States have still not correctly and fully incorporated the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia into national law. In 2018, only 15 Member States had in place action plans and strategies aimed at combating racism and ethnic discrimination.

A boys face split into two. Each face half is from a different child.

In this chapter:

  • Rise in fear and resentment of ethnic minorities
  • Lack of policy responses to racism, ethnic discrimination and hate crime
  • Gaps in national legislation on combating hate crime and hate speech
  • Curbing hate speech online
  • Rights awareness crucial for the implementation of the Racial Equality Directive
  • Stepping up efforts to counter discriminatory profiling

Chapter 4. Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 4.1

    EU Member States should ensure that any alleged hate crime, including illegal forms of hate speech, is effectively recorded, investigated, prosecuted and tried. This needs to be done in accordance with applicable national, EU, European and international human rights law.

    EU Member States should make further efforts to systematically record, collect and publish annually data on hate crime to enable them to develop effective, evidence-based legal and policy responses to this phenomenon. Any data should be collected in accordance with national legal frameworks and EU data protection legislation.

  • FRA opinion 4.2

    EU Member States should ensure that equality bodies can fulfil their tasks, as assigned by the Racial Equality Directive, by supporting them in raising public awareness of their existence, of the anti-discrimination rules in force, and of ways to seek redress. This can help strengthen the role of equality bodies in facilitating the reporting of ethnic and racial discrimination by victims.

  • FRA opinion 4.3

    EU Member States should develop dedicated national action plans to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In this regard, EU Member States could draw on the practical guidance offered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on how to develop such plans. In line with this guidance, such action plans would set goals and actions, assign responsible state bodies, set target dates, include performance indicators, and provide for monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Implementing such plans would provide EU Member States with an effective means of ensuring that they meet their obligations under the Racial Equality Directive and the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia.

  • FRA opinion 4.4

    EU Member States should develop specific, practical and ready-to-use guidance to ensure that police officers do not conduct discriminatory ethnic profiling in the exercise of their duties. As noted in FRA’s guide on preventing unlawful profiling, such guidance should be issued by law enforcement authorities, or included in standard operating procedures of the police or in codes of conduct for police officers. Member States should systematically communicate such guidance to frontline law enforcement officers.

5. Roma integration

Roma continue to face discrimination because of their ethnicity in access to education, employment, healthcare and housing. Reports of discrimination and hate crime continued in 2018, confirming that anti-Gypsyism remains an important barrier to Roma inclusion.

There has been little change in the social and economic situation of Roma across the EU, FRA data show. This undermines EU and national efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 10 in regard to reducing inequality within countries, and more specifically its Target 10.3 to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome.

The 2018 edition of Eurostat’s monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in the EU contains no reference to Roma inclusion outcomes or to the relevant data that FRA produced, despite the high relevance of monitoring a number of goals specifically for Roma (in particular Goals 1, 4, 6 and 8). Such monitoring would have explicit policy relevance, given the existence, since 2011, of an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and the related Council Recommendation of 2013.

Roma man selling a street paper in Helsinki, Finland

Roma man selling a street paper in Helsinki, Finland, 2017

In this chapter:

  • EU action against anti-Gypsyism
  • Structural and institutional discrimination, and anti-Gypsyism
  • Legal developments
  • National developments

Chapter 5. Roma integration

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 5.1

    EU Member States should review their national Roma integration strategies and acknowledge anti-Gypsyism as a form of racism, which can lead to forms of structural discrimination. National Roma integration strategies should specify which of their general anti-discrimination measures address anti-Gypsyism explicitly and how. Specific measures should address both Roma – for example, through rights awareness campaigns or facilitating access to legal remedy – and the general public – for example, through raising awareness about historical discrimination, segregation and persecution of Roma.

  • FRA opinion 5.2

    To tackle limited reporting of discrimination and anti-Gypsyism to the authorities, EU Member States should ensure that law enforcement agencies cooperate with equality bodies, as well as Ombuds and national human rights institutions. This would help to develop actions that foster an environment where Roma, like everyone else, feel confident about reporting incidents of discriminatory treatment, including discriminatory ethnic profiling, in the knowledge that the competent authorities will take their complaints seriously and follow up on them. Such actions could include, for example, third-party reporting referral procedures, which engage civil society organisations with law enforcement to facilitate reporting of hate crime and discrimination.

  • FRA opinion 5.3

    EU Member States should review their national Roma integration strategies or integrated sets of policy measures to promote a participatory approach to designing, implementing and monitoring Roma inclusion actions, especially at local level, and to support community-led efforts. European Structural and Investment Funds and other funding sources should be used to promote and facilitate the participation of Roma and community-led integration projects. Future partnership agreements for the new generation of EU funds should explicitly include the participation of Roma in the design, implementation and monitoring of relevant investment on Roma inclusion at local level.

6. Asylum, visas, migration, borders and integration

As global displacement numbers remained high, arrivals to the European Union (EU) continued to drop. Attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea remained deadly, with an estimate of 2,299 fatalities in 2018. Allegations of refoulement and of police mistreating migrants and refugees persisted.

In June, European leaders called for a comprehensive approach to migration, with a strong focus on stemming irregular migration, including unauthorised movements within the EU. Diverse large-scale IT systems – most of which involve processing biometric data – were both introduced and further developed. Meanwhile, the integration of refugees who arrived in 2015-2016 made progress despite diverse hurdles.

Migrants living in self-purchased tents in front of the overcrowded hotspot in Samos

Migrants living in self-purchased tents in front of the overcrowded hotspot in Samos, December 2018

In this chapter:

  • Fundamental rights under threat at borders
  • EU IT systems further expand
  • Working out refugee integration

Chapter 6. Asylum, visas, migration, borders and integration

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 6.1

    The EU and its Member States should cooperate with relevant international organisations and third countries to ensure safe, swift and predictable disembarkation for migrants and refugees rescued at sea, in compliance with the principle of non-refoulement. Any processing centres established within the EU must fully comply with the right to liberty and security set out in Article 6 of the Charter and entail adequate safeguards to ensure that asylum and return procedures are fair. EU Member States should reinforce preventive measures against abusive behaviour by law enforcement and effectively investigate all credible allegations of refoulement and violence by law enforcement authorities at the borders.

  • FRA opinion 6.2

    EU Member States should avoid actions that directly or indirectly discourage humanitarian support that helps migrants and refugees in need, and should follow up on relevant recommendations issued by National Human Rights Institutions. Furthermore, EU Member States should remove restrictions imposed on civil society organisations that deploy rescue vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • FRA opinion 6.3

    The EU should avoid EU-wide processing in the Visa Information System of personal data of residence-permit holders who have their centre of life in the EU. Their data should be processed in national systems, in a manner similar to EU nationals.

  • FRA opinion 6.4

    EU Member States should reinforce their efforts to ensure that people granted international protection fully enjoy the rights to which they are entitled under the 1951 Convention, international human rights law, and relevant EU law, so as to foster their successful integration into the host society.

7. Information society, privacy and data protection

In 2018, news of large-scale abuses of personal data sparked concern and raised awareness of the need for strong privacy and data protection safeguards. This underlined the importance of legislators’ efforts in this area – such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became applicable in May – as well as the key role of whistleblowers and civil society.

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe opened for signature the Amending Protocol for modernised Convention 108, and the global expansion of Convention 108 continued, reaching a total of 53 States Parties by the end of 2018. Both texts provide individuals with a reinforced legal framework to protect their rights to privacy and protection of personal data. Such legal frameworks are especially vital when fast-evolving technologies bring both economic opportunities and legal challenges.

Across the EU, Member States entered an artificial intelligence race to ensure that industry and labour markets are well placed for tomorrow’s competitiveness – sometimes leaving fundamental rights on the margin of the debates.

Finally, and as in previous years, data protection in the context of law enforcement also remained high on the agenda, with the European Commission proposing new rules for the cross-border acquisition of e-evidence. There were, however, no EU-level developments on data retention: no EU initiatives to comply with the relevant 2014 and 2016 CJEU judgments were proposed.

Image of a city center with application detecting and framing different objects in picture.

In this chapter:

  • 2018: The year of global awareness on data protection
  • Artificial intelligence and big data: debating ethics, but searching for the adequate fundamental rights framework
  • Data protection & measures to ensure security: striking the right balance

Chapter 7. Information society, privacy and data protection

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 7.1

    EU Member States should encourage the effective involvement of qualified civil society organisations in the enforcement of data protection rules, by providing the necessary legal basis for such organisations to lodge complaints regarding data protection violations independently of a data subject's mandate.

  • FRA opinion 7.2

    EU Member States should consider providing for effective protection of whistleblowers, thereby contributing to the effective compliance of business and governments with the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection.

  • FRA opinion 7.3

    EU Member States should align their legislation on data retention with the CJEU rulings, and avoid general and indiscriminate retention of data by telecommunication providers. National law should include strict proportionality checks as well as appropriate procedural safeguards so that it effectively guarantees rights to privacy and the protection of personal data.

  • FRA opinion 7.4

    Given that only a rights-based approach guarantees a high level of protection against possible misuse of new technologies and wrongdoings using them, Member States should put fundamental rights at the heart of national strategies on AI and big data. Such strategies should incorporate know-how from experts in various disciplines such as lawyers, social scientists, statisticians, computer scientists and subject-level experts. Ethics can complement a rights-based approach but should not replace it.

8. Rights of the child

One in four children in the European Union live at risk of poverty or social exclusion, despite the slowly improving trend towards reducing child poverty. Not all children, however, benefit from the change in trend. Children with parents born outside the EU or with foreign nationality are more likely to be poor.

The number of migrant and asylum-seeking children coming to the EU decreased again in 2018. Nevertheless, in certain Member States, the reception conditions – including the use of immigration detention – remained a serious problem.

In 2018, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted its first decisions on individual complaints against Member States, mostly in relation to the situation and treatment of children in the context of migration.

Member States have been slow to incorporate into national law Directive (EU) 2016/800 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings, which enters into force in June 2019. Few have aligned their legislation to match the requirements of this directive.

Section for unaccompanied children, Samos, April 2018

Section for unaccompanied children, Samos, April 2018

In this chapter:

  • Child poverty
  • Children in migration
  • Children and juvenile justice

Chapter 8. Rights of the child

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 8.1

    EU and Member States’ funding priorities should reflect the need to reduce child poverty at the levels aspired to by the sustainable development goal on poverty (SDG 1), in view of meeting the best interest of the child as laid down in Article 24 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. To achieve this, EU institutions and Member States should consider allocating sufficient resources for combating child poverty using all available tools, including the European Child Guarantee Scheme for children in vulnerable situation, if established. Moreover, EU institutions should continue to include child poverty considerations in all phases of the European Semester, in particular in country-specific recommendations, given their potential impact on the use of EU Funds.

    EU Member States should consider, in the context of the SDG assessment, to include in their voluntary national review reports specific references to national policies and more comprehensive data about child poverty, as well as any results of impact assessments on relevant policies. EU Member States should make use of the Commission’s 2013 Recommendation ‘Investing in children’ when presenting their National Reform Programmes for the European Semester.

  • FRA opinion 8.2

    In the context of migration, EU Member States should, in line with the Reception Conditions Directive, provide children with basic adequate housing, legal representation, access to school and further education. Member States should increase efforts to develop non-custodial alternatives to detention.

  • FRA opinion 8.3

    In the process of incorporating into national law the Directive on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings, EU Member States should review age limitations or other conditions that in practice might hinder the effective access of children to certain procedural guarantees. EU Member States should also consider providing legal aid unconditionally to all children, including free-of-charge legal representation throughout the proceedings, and making specialised lawyers available.

9. Access to justice including the rights of crime victims

Judicial independence is an essential building block of the rule of law. Challenges to such independence continued to grow, underlining the need for effective coordination of efforts in this area. This prompted the European Parliament to submit, for the first time, a call to the Council for adoption of a decision under Article 7 (1) of the TEU, and the European Commission to submit a proposal for a regulation addressing, from a budgetary perspective, deficiencies in the rule of law.

About two thirds of EU Member States adopted legislation to strengthen the application of the Victims’ Rights Directive, increasing safeguards relating to participation in criminal proceedings.

Recognising that the Istanbul Convention defines European human rights protection standards in the area of violence against women and domestic violence, the EU continued the process of ratifying the instrument.

Man in a grey suit holding his hand out with overlay of different justice icons in honeycombe shape

In this chapter:

  • Rule of law challenges and hurdles to justice continue to grow
  • Advancing victims’ rights
  • Violence against women and domestic violence

Chapter 9. Access to justice including the rights of crime victims

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 9.1

    The EU and its Member States are encouraged to further strengthen their efforts and collaboration to maintain and reinforce independent judiciaries, an essential component of the rule of law. The existing efforts should be stepped up to develop criteria and contextual assessments to guide EU Member States in a regular and comparative manner to recognise and tackle any possible rule of law issues. Such regular assessments would also be instrumental in the context of the proposed EU regulation aiming to address generalised deficiencies as regards the rule of law. In addition, the EU Member States concerned should act on recommendations such as those issued by the European Commission as part of its Rule of Law Framework procedure, as well as under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism process, to ensure compliance with the rule of law.

  • FRA opinion 9.2

    EU Member States should continue their efforts to effectively implement victims’ rights to ensure rights awareness, access to appropriate support services and effective remedies available to all victims of crime.

  • FRA opinion 9.3

    All EU Member States that have not yet done so and the EU itself are encouraged to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). FRA encourages Member States to address protection gaps in national legislation and consider the criminalisation of all non-consensual sexual acts as laid down in Article 36 of the Istanbul Convention.

10. Developments in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The European Commission’s progress report on implementation of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 provided an opportunity to take stock of the EU’s efforts to realise the rights set out in the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Movement towards the adoption of the European Accessibility Act indicated that a major legislative milestone is moving closer.

Despite significant achievements at the EU and national levels, however, implementation gaps persist in key areas such as accessibility and independent living. Tools such as indicators, as well as rulings by national courts on the justiciability of the CRPD, can help to ensure that practice follows the promise of legal obligations. Monitoring frameworks established under Article 33 (2) of the convention also have a crucial role to play, but a lack of resources, limited mandates and a lack of independence undermine their effectiveness.

Compsoite: Fingers reading braille; Worker in a wheelchair; Women with disabilities preparing food

In this chapter:

  • The CRPD and the EU: progress on key legislative files
  • The CRPD in EU Member States: bringing people with disabilities into decision-making processes
  • More work needed to make CRPD monitoring participatory

Chapter 10. Developments in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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FRA opinions

  • FRA opinion 10.1

    The EU and its Member States should ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities enshrined in the CRPD and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are fully respected to maximise the potential for EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to support independent living. In this regard, the EU legislator should adopt the new enabling conditions establishing the effective application and implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the CRPD, as laid down in the Common Provisions Regulation proposed by the European Commission for the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. To enable effective monitoring of the funds and their outcomes, the EU and its Member States should take steps to include disabled persons’ organisations and national human rights bodies in ESIF monitoring committees. Allocating human resources and adequate funding to these organisations and bodies, and earmarking EU resources for that purpose, will bolster the efficiency of the proposed enabling conditions.

  • FRA opinion 10.2

    EU institutions and EU Member States should closely engage persons with disabilities, including through their representative organisations, in decision-making processes. To this end, Member States and EU institutions should strengthen the involvement of disabled persons’ organisations (DPOs), including by setting up advisory or consultation bodies. Representatives of persons with disabilities should be full members of such bodies, on an equal basis with others, and have access to the resources necessary to participate meaningfully.

  • FRA opinion 10.3

    EU Member States that have not yet become party to the Optional Protocol to the CRPD should consider completing the necessary steps to secure its ratification to achieve full and EU-wide ratification of its Optional Protocol. The EU should also consider taking rapid steps to accept the Optional Protocol.

  • FRA opinion 10.4

    The EU and its Member States should consider allocating the monitoring frameworks established under Article 33 (2) of the CRPD sufficient and stable financial and human resources. As set out in FRA’s 2016 Opinion concerning the requirements under Article 33 (2) of the CRPD within an EU context, they should guarantee the sustainability and independence of monitoring frameworks by ensuring that they benefit from a solid legal basis for their work. The composition and operation of the monitoring frameworks should take into account the Paris Principles on the functioning of national human rights institutions.