Closing speech to the Fundamental Rights Platform

Closing speech to the 5th Annual Meeting of the Fundamental Rights Platform, Vienna

Ladies and gentlemen,

Yesterday at the beginning of our two days of conversation I raised three questions:

How can we best use our collective knowledge to improve the fundamental rights situation on the ground?

Second, what can we learn from each other - and what can we learn together?

And: How can we best make use of our interdependence, while remaining independent?

Yesterday I said I am not here to answer the questions- but to explore the answers together with you. I think we have started finding some answers- together. I would like to pick up three of the key messages from the discussions from yesterday that were raised not only by the panel but in particular also by you, and these messages for me will be so-to-say the legacy of this meeting: In times of crisis, if we want to keep fundamental rights alive, then the only way is cooperation - not competition. We all, who form part of the human rights architecture, must become increasingly aware about our different roles, and we should develop together how an effective and intelligent division of labour could look like.

The basic precondition for this- and this is the third message- is that we get to know each other better, and that we listen to each other. This Platform was, I hope, able to provide a basis for this.

In this regard, I would like to thank National Human Rights institutions and Equality Bodies for accepting our invitation to this years' FRP meeting- and I would, obviously, like to thank you NGOs for being so ready to enter into this open dialogue. I hope that this can really be the start of fruitful collaboration both at your national level, as well as working together to reach the EU and international levels better -together. We had of course a first taste of this dialogue in "the floor is yours" where some of the topics were also around the issue of cooperation. Equally from this morning I would like us to take home three strong messages: we have to understand that multiple discrimination "is not an academic exercise but a stubborn reality" as the representative of the Commission stated it. And it is a very painful one, one more severe than the discrimination of one ground, like we learned from the testimony of Virginia.

Despite this, Multiple discrimination is still not recognised by laws in most MS nor at EU level. The swift adoption of the EU horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive is therefore of the utmost importance Though many of you NGOs have done valuable work on this and have mainstreamed intersectionality into your organisation in order to cater for the group most of risk of discrimination; and although we as FRA are engaged in research on this issue, this is not enough. One of you told me today that the issue not having the label"multi discrimination" was already in front of the

Court of Justice in the early 70s but a clear legal recognition is still failing, it is now time to develop a road map with clear targets, so that all actors concerned with a few of ultimately making a tangible difference to the lives of victims

Ladies and Gentlemen

Before coming to an end, let me mention that for us at the Agency, we deal with many different stakeholder groups, NGOs being one of them. But you are a very special stakeholder group for us- in many ways. And I don't only say that because of my own NGO background originally, but: You are the ones that can connect us best to what is happening on the ground. You are also the ones who hold up the

mirror to us, and who are critical and always push for the standards to be even higher- and this is important.

And: you are also the stakeholder group which is the most diverse, and heterogeneous. This is a great added value and richness, but it can also be at times challenging with very different, even opposing views. In this sense, we are a microcosm of the world out there. How we deal with each other has repercussions on how society deals with different views.

And how we will cooperate among US and with others in the fundamental rights architecture, will also have repercussions for the world out there. Tapping into our collective strength will help us to make fundamental rights a reality for all. I am happy to say that, in my view, this meeting has brought us one step further on this way.

And if each of us can go home now, thinking to him- or herself of one commitment on how you want take the work on cooperation further in the coming weeks and months, then this will mean very many steps. What is your contribution?

In this regard, we are very much looking forward to getting input from the new Advisory Panel in particular, but of course from all of you, and we hope that the interactive and dynamic e-FRP will provide a useful tool for doing exactly that. In this sense, we can make the FRP a permanent platform for meaningful dialogue and effective cooperation, rather than just one annual event.

Before closing, I would like to thank:

All of you for your very active, engaged contributions.

I would also like to thank the interpreters and the colleagues providing the transcript which many of you have told me you found very useful.

Last but not least at all, I would like to thank those who have ensured the great organisation of gathering. Over 60 FRA staff were part in this, but I would like to thank Friso's team, and 2 colleagues in particular: Massimo Toschi, Monika Kocmann.

Thank you, and have a good journey home!