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Fundamental rights implications of COVID-19

Covid-19 coronavirus cells infection, Jezper © adobestock.com, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on everyone. Governments take urgent measures to curb its spread to safeguard public health and provide medical care to those who need it. They are acting to defend the human rights of health and of life itself. Inevitably, these measures limit our human and fundamental rights to an extent rarely experienced in peacetime. It is important to ensure that such limitations are consistent with our legal safeguards and that their impact on particular groups is adequately taken account of.

This page highlights FRA activities to investigate the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on fundamental rights in the EU.

At the bottom of the page you can also view all FRA tweets about the pandemic.

 

FRA is publishing regular reports about the fundamental rights impact of the Coronavirus over the coming months.

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Highlights

Medical staff gives injection to elderly patient

Video - 18 February 2021

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: Covid-19 and vaccine equality

FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty calls for making Covid-19 vaccine equality a top priority for 2021.

Old woman being treated, home schooling, woman with mask serving in a shop, homeless man

News - 30 November 2020

Social rights: Coronavirus pandemic continues to hamper access to education and healthcare

The rights to education, healthcare and fair working conditions are among the rights most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Fundamental Rights Agency’s (FRA) latest bulletin reveals the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on people’s social rights and the groups most at risk.

Recent updates

Event - 12 March 2021

EESC event looks at COVID-19 challenges civil society

FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty will be one of the inaugural speakers at an event to discuss challenges and the future for civil society organisations during and after COVID-19.


Event - 10 March 2021

UN Regional Sustainable Development Forum looks to human rights in COVID-19 recovery

FRA will present findings from its work on the impact of COVID-19 on fundamental rights during the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development. It will be part of discussions on 10 March on how human rights can guide sustainable recovery. FRA will also draw on its work on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU. The event focuses on how to ensure that the principle of leaving no-one behind is entrenched in COVID-19 recovery strategies and plans.


News item - 5 March 2021

Findings from FRA consultation on COVID-19 impact on civil society

FRA has just released key findings from its consultation with its Fundamental Rights Platform on the impact of COVID-19 measures on the work of human rights civil society.


News item - 4 February 2021

EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Management Mechanism

FRA gave a presentation on good practices to protect and promote human rights during and after COVID during the EU Migration Preparedness and Crisis Management Mechanism (Blueprint) Network meeting on 4 February.


News item - 28 January 2021

Citizens’ rights and moving together beyond the pandemic

FRA presented findings from its COVID-19 impact bulletins during a conference on the state of EU citizens’ rights. It drew attention to the impact of the pandemic on the fundamental right to family life for citizens moving about the EU.


News item - 28 January 2021

Technological advances and data protection should go hand-in-hand

From tracking the spread of COVID-19 to deciding who will receive social benefits, artificial intelligence (AI) affects the lives of millions of Europeans. Automation can improve decision-making. But AI can lead to mistakes, discrimination and be hard to challenge. A new EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report reveals confusion about the impact of AI on people’s rights. This even among organisations already using it. FRA calls on policymakers to provide more guidance on how existing rules apply to AI and ensure any future AI laws protect fundamental rights.


Event - 28 January 2021

Learning lessons from COVID-19 for people in care

The European Parliament is convening a hearing on the consequences and lessons from the COVID-19 crisis for people living in residential institutions. It will focus on the social and human rights perspective.


News item - 14 December 2020

Now is the time to ensure artificial intelligence works for Europeans

From tracking the spread of COVID-19 to deciding who will receive social benefits, artificial intelligence (AI) affects the lives of millions of Europeans. Automation can improve decision-making. But AI can lead to mistakes, discrimination and be hard to challenge. A new EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report reveals confusion about the impact of AI on people’s rights. This even among organisations already using it. FRA calls on policymakers to provide more guidance on how existing rules apply to AI and ensure any future AI laws protect fundamental rights.


Event - 14 December 2020

Enforcing COVID-19 regulations and human rights

The EU Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) will hold an online webinar on policing during the pandemic.


Video - 10 December 2020

Stand up for everyone's human rights

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic leaves a lasting mark on society worldwide. It affected everyone but some people more than others. As we look ahead, on Human Rights Day, on 10 December, we need to make the new normal a better normal. In his video message, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty underlines the need to stand up for human rights to make 2021 a better year. This means ensuring we respect and take into account everybody's human rights.


News item - 25 November 2020

Pandemic underlines why domestic violence requires urgent action

Too many women and girls remain unprotected. The surge in domestic violence during the Coronavirus pandemic has made this obvious. It has exposed how common this human rights abuse still is. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November is a chance to re-galvanise efforts to effectively protect women's rights and end violence against women.


News item - 24 November 2020

Online conference looks at the impact of COVID-19 on children

FRA’s Director Michael O’Flaherty joins a high-level panel on 24 November on the impact of the pandemic on children’s education. FRA will also speak on an expert panel on children’s increased risk of exposure to violence and the difficulty in accessing protection and support services.


News item - 24 November 2020

Online conference looks at the impact of COVID-19 on children

FRA’s Director Michael O’Flaherty joins a high-level panel on 24 November on the impact of the pandemic on children’s education. FRA will also speak on an expert panel on children’s increased risk of exposure to violence and the difficulty in accessing protection and support services.


News - 20 November 2020

Education and youth participation for more inclusive and tolerant cities

FRA’s Director in his video statement to the online General Conference of the European Coalition of cities against racism (ECCAR) on 19-20 November spoke of the serious patterns of discrimination and discriminatory attitudes towards certain population groups. He also pointed to how the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse.


News - 20 November 2020

Pandemic underscores why child protection is critical for our future

Safeguarding children rights is more important than ever. Measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 risk having a lasting effect on our children and our future. Children’s day on 20 November reminds us to step up efforts to protect the rights of all children and to provide them with opportunities to contribute to change.


News - 1 November 2020

Discussing COVID-19’s fundamental rights impact in Italy

On 30 October, FRA took part in a webinar organised by the Department of Political Science of Roma Tre University on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fundamental rights in Italy.


News - 22 October 2020

FRA Director discusses COVID-19 impact with Western Balkan Justice ministers

The FRA Director participated in the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs on 22 October.


Event - 30 September 2020

European child rights forum looks toward next child rights strategy

FRA’s Director will focus on child rights in emergency situations and what can we learn from COVID-19 in his address to the 13th European Forum on the rights of the child on 30 September.


News item - 29 September 2020

Pandemic worsens Roma and Travellers poverty and discrimination

The Coronavirus pandemic hit Roma and Travellers particularly hard, shows a new bulletin from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Many Roma and Travellers lost their income, overcrowding and lack of sanitation increased their health risks, and distance learning was difficult without internet access. Discrimination and anti-Roma rhetoric have increased too, especially online. FRA calls on policymakers to urgently address these immediate challenges and put in place lasting structures to fight deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination.


Event - 29 September 2020

International conference addresses the rights of older people

On 29 September, FRA’s Director Michael O’Flaherty speaks at an international conference on lessons learned from COVID-19 for strengthening older people’s rights in times of digitalisation.


Event - 29 September 2020

International conference addresses the rights of older people

On 29 September, FRA’s Director Michael O’Flaherty speaks at an international conference on lessons learned from COVID-19 for strengthening older people’s rights in times of digitalisation.


Event - 28 September 2020

Feeding Finnish recommendations on the pandemic’s human rights impact

On 28 September, FRA’s Director will give a keynote speech on the impact of COVID-19 on the realisation of human rights now and in the long run. He will speak during a meeting of the Human Rights Delegation of Finland, a body of the Finnish NHRI.


Video - 11 September 2020

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: Covid-19 and Roma children

FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty speaks about the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Roma community. Roma children are in danger of losing almost a whole year of schooling. It’s like losing a generation. It’s robbing children of the one place where they can have hope and dream the same dreams of every other child.


News item - 30 July 2020

COVID-19 ‘new normal’ should also safeguard fundamental rights

Living with COVID-19 continues to constrain our daily lives, as a new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report shows. Moving forward, governments need to ensure existing fundamental rights challenges do not worsen and vulnerable members of society do not suffer disproportionately.


News item - 27 July 2020

Migration: COVID-19 continues to cause hardship for migrants and deprives children of access to education

Restrictions for migrants, difficulties accessing asylum procedures or entering the EU territory and lack of information are some of the main concerns the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) identifies in its latest migration quarterly bulletin. Furthermore, the lack of online learning tools and stable internet connection deprives many asylum-seeking children of access to education.


News item - 24 July 2020

The role of data protection authorities in fighting COVID-19

FRA took part in a virtual expert seminar on 23 July on the role of data protection authorities in the context of COVID-19 exit strategies and contact tracing apps.


News item - 16 July 2020

Council of Europe-FRA-ENNHRI-EQUINET discussing social and economic rights in the context of COVID-19 crisis

On 9 July, the CoE-FRA-ENNHRI-EQUINET collaborative platform on social and economic rights discussed the societal challenges triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak.


Video - 15 July 2020

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: July bulletin on COVID-19

Michael O'Flaherty introduces the July edition of FRA's bulletin on the impact for fundamental rights of Covid-19. He talks about the important role that people play who are engaged with the promotion and the protection of human rights in these times. The July edition of the COVID-19 bulletin will be available from 30 July.


News item - 15 July 2020

Stronger together: EU Agencies join forces to respond to COVID-19

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nine Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies (CEPOL, EASO, EIGE, EMCDDA, eu-LISA, Eurojust, Europol, FRA and Frontex) have been supporting the Member States and EU institutions in meeting the unprecedented challenges resulting from the outbreak of the virus – each agency in its respective area of work, in both the short term and the long term.


News item - 13 July 2020

Stop labour exploitation and protect workers from COVID-19

In Europe, thousands of exploited workers are forced to work endless hours with no or little pay and without adequate safety equipment. Many of those exploited workers are migrants. Their situation has become even worse during the Coronavirus pandemic, as their working conditions do not allow physical distancing or regular handwashing. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) calls on EU institutions and EU Member States to take all the necessary steps to stop the exploitation of migrant workers, ensure safe working conditions and fair pay.


Event - 9 July 2020

Heads of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their work

On 9 July, FRA’s Director will participate in a virtual meeting of the Heads of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies.


Event - 3 July 2020

Racism and discrimination in the EU during COVID-19

The FRA Director will join EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli for a seminar on racism and discrimination in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.


News item - 30 June 2020

Respect older people’s rights when exiting the COVID-19 pandemic

Many older people in care homes fell victim to COVID-19. Many also faced months of isolation and restrictions often harsher than those enforced for other parts of the population. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) looks at how the pandemic affected the rights of older people. It highlights the need for a rights-based approach as governments shape their exit strategies.


News item - 25 June 2020

Council of Europe discusses COVID-19 impact on child rights

On 26 June, FRA joined the first exchange of views of the Council of Europe’s Child Rights Steering Committee.


Event - 24 - 25 June 2020

Human rights in the new normal - people’s views and experiences in EU societies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak

On 24 and 25 June, FRA will host interactive online sessions to mark the launch of the report ‘What do fundamental rights mean for people in the EU?’. While the discussions draw on the survey results based on people’s views prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, the impact of COVID-19 on people’s human rights, as evidenced by the Agency’s COVID-19 bulletins, will also be addressed throughout the event.


Speech - 19 June 2020

Fighting discrimination on grounds of religion and ethnicity

FRA’s Director addressed a conference on 18 June 2020 on Fighting discrimination on grounds of religion and ethnicity: vulnerabilities of Muslim communities and the effects of COVID-19 crisis. the vulnerabilities of Muslim communities in the EU. The conference was a joint initiative by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the European network of Equality bodies, Equinet. Tommaso Chiamparino, European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred chaired the event.


News item - 19 June 2020

Mediterranean migrant search and rescue– latest update

Five people per day on average died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2019, estimates the International Organization for Migration. Ahead of World Refugee Day, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency points to ongoing difficulties facing civil society rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.


News item - 18 June 2020

How concerned are Europeans about their personal data online?

As governments discuss using technology to stop the spread of COVID-19, many Europeans are unwilling to share data about themselves with public and private bodies. These findings emerged from a EU Agency’s Fundamental Rights survey, carried out before the pandemic.

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FRA tweets related to #COVID19