Justice, victims’ rights and judicial cooperation

Your access to justice is a fundamental right. It is central to making your other rights a reality.

It protects rights of the individual. It puts right civil wrongs. It holds power to account. We shine a light on obstacles to access to justice. And we give evidence-based advice on overcoming them.


  • Report / Paper / Summary
    Tackling greenwashing is an issue where human rights, consumer rights and climate goals align. Companies use greenwashing to convince people to buy products that are not always as environmentally friendly as they claim to be. They mislead consumers and harm the environment. This report shows how a human rights approach can combat greenwashing. It is based on consultations with experts in 10 Member States. The report identifies gaps in existing laws and enforcement. It includes case studies of consumers seeking remedies for misleading environmental claims. The EU and Member States should enforce rules that make it harder for companies to make misleading environmental claims. They should strengthen rules that make it easier for consumers to prove that companies are greenwashing. Consumer and environmental organisations already hold governments and business to account. Governments should make it easier to use collective action for the protection of consumer rights and the environment.
  • Report / Paper / Summary
    The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) allows Member States to implement judicial decisions issued in another Member State. It applies to decisions such as arrests for the purpose of criminal prosecutions or the execution of custodial sentences. After being in force for over 20 years, FRA’s findings provide evidence for an assessment of the legislation in practice. This report looks at the fundamental rights challenges that people face who are requested through an EAW. It provides a unique insight into their experiences and those of the professionals involved. FRA’s findings indicate that shared challenges exist across EU Member States. They must increase efforts to ensure that people are able to take part in criminal proceedings and receive a fair trial.
  • Report / Paper / Summary
    Every child has a right to be protected even when they are accused or suspected of committing a crime. The basic principles of justice apply to adults and children alike. But children face specific obstacles during criminal proceedings, such as a lack of understandable information about their rights, limited legal support and poor treatment. The report looks at the practical implementation of Directive (EU) 2016/800 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings in nine Member States – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Italy, Malta, Poland and Portugal.
  • Handbook / Guide / Manual
    Access to justice is an important element of the rule of law. It enables individuals to protect themselves against infringements of their rights, to remedy civil wrongs, to hold executive power accountable and to defend themselves in criminal proceedings. This handbook summarises the key European legal principles in the area of access to justice, focusing on civil and criminal law.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States introduced and pursued
numerous initiatives to safeguard and strengthen fundamental rights in 2015.
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Report 2016 summarises and analyses major
developments in the fundamental rights field, noting both progress made
and persisting obstacles. This publication 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.
Hate crime is the most severe expression of discrimination, and a core fundamental rights abuse. Various initiatives target such crime, but most hate crime across the EU remains unreported and unprosecuted, leaving victims without redress. To counter this trend, it is essential for Member States to improve access to justice for victims. Drawing on interviews with representatives from criminal courts, public prosecutors’ offices, the police, and NGOs involved in supporting hate crime victims, this report sheds light on the diverse hurdles that impede victims’ access to justice and the proper recording of hate crime.
Worker exploitation is not an isolated or marginal phenomenon. But despite its pervasiveness
in everyday life, severe labour exploitation and its adverse effects on third-country nationals
and EU citizens - as workers, but also as consumers - have to date not received much
attention from researchers. This report identifies risk factors contributing to such exploitation and
discusses means of improving the situation and highlights the challenges EU institutions and
Member States face in making the right of workers who have moved within or into the EU
to decent working conditions a reality.
This report, drafted in response to the European Parliament’s call for thorough research on fundamental rights protection in the context of surveillance, maps and analyses the legal frameworks on surveillance in place in EU Member States.
In April 2014, the European Parliament requested the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) “to undertake in–depth research on the protection of fundamental rights in the context
of surveillance”. This summary presents FRA’s main research findings, which are published in full in the report entitled Surveillance by intelligence services: fundamental rights safeguards and remedies in the EU – Mapping Member States’ legal frameworks.
Each year, an estimated 2.5 million children go through legal procedures. Two-thirds of children do not receive adequate information during proceedings. Their understanding of their rights and procedures is rarely checked. The behaviour of legal professionals affects to what degree children feel safe and comfortable. These videos provide practical guidelines about how to ensure justice is child-friendly.
Children should always be supported by a professional support person when they are involved in judicial proceedings, such as being at court. This could be, for example, a social worker or a legal counsellor.
Children should always be supported by a professional support person when they are involved in judicial proceedings, such as being at court. This could be, for example, a social worker or a legal counsellor.
During judicial proceedings, such as being at court, children should always be told what is going on. The information should be presented in a child-friendly and understandable way.
The freedom to conduct a business, one of the lesser-known rights of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, can help boost growth and jobs across the EU.
This report seeks to demonstrate that the fulfilment of fundamental rights can help to improve the situation and achieve the strategic goals set out in the Europe 2020 growth strategy, which aims to establish a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.
New strategic guidelines in the area of freedom, security and justice by the European Council placed increasing mutual trust, strengthening the protection of victims and reinforcing the rights of accused persons and suspects high on the EU policy agenda. Many EU Member States adopted new laws or reformed existing laws and policies in this area, while efforts continued at UN, Council of Europe and EU level to strengthen the rule of law, judicial independence and the efficiency of justice systems, as cornerstones of a democratic society.
Worker exploitation is not an isolated or marginal phenomenon. But despite its pervasiveness in everyday life, severe labour exploitation and its adverse effects on third-country nationals and EU citizens - as workers, but also as consumers - have to date not received much attention from researchers.
Making justice systems more child‑friendly improves
the protection of children, enhances their meaningful
participation and at the same time improves
the operation of justice. The findings in this summary
can provide Member States with useful tools
to identify barriers, gaps or weaknesses in their
judicial proceedings, especially in the process of
transposing and implementing relevant EU directives. Also available in BG - CS - DA - DE - EL - ES - ET - FI - FR - HR - HU - IT - LV - LT - MT - PL - PT - RO - SK - SK - SV
Each year thousands of children take part in criminal and civil judicial proceedings, affected by parental divorce
or as victims or witnesses to crime. Such proceedings can be stressful for anyone. The European Union Agency
for Fundamental Rights (FRA) investigated whether children’s rights are respected in these proceedings.
Children need to be heard and be involved in all issues that concern them. This includes the justice system.
Member States must do more to protect victims of violent crime, finds the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Its latest reports question current safeguards defending the rights of those seeking justice. FRA calls for positive action from police, support services, public prosecutors and courts.
Workplace inspections are often lacking or ineffective, enabling unscrupulous employers to exploit their workers, finds the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ latest report. Tightening up inspections to combat abuse and empower workers to report abuse are some ways FRA suggests to help end severe labour exploitation.
Nearly 60% of Europeans consider being old a disadvantage when looking for work. Societies often view older people as burdens. Too often we overlook the basic human rights of our older people. This year, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in its 2018 Fundamental Rights Report explores how a rights-based approach towards respect for older people is starting to happen.
Over the last decade, new fundamental rights laws and policies have been adopted and specialist institutions created. But fundamental rights challenges still remain and rights are under attack, underlining the lack of a fundamental rights culture across institutions and societies, as the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reveals in its 2017 Fundamental Rights Report.
EU rules essential to build trust in the EU’s area of justice are seldom invoked, potentially hindering the fair treatment of people involved in criminal proceedings. Two new reports from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) offer detailed guidance for the EU and its Member States to boost the effectivity of the criminal justice system.
On 22 June 2016, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the European Court of Human Rights launch a practical handbook on European law relating to access to justice.
Over one million people sought refuge in the EU in 2015, a fivefold increase from the year before. In its Fundamental Rights Report 2016, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) examines the scale and nature of the challenge and proposes measures to ensure fundamental rights are respected across the EU.
The European Union has always sought to boost innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the region. However, entrepreneurs often face long and complicated administrative procedures, time consuming reporting obligations, and difficulties in accessing credit. The freedom to conduct business, one of the lesser-known rights of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, is explored in detail with examples of how this right can also help boost growth and jobs, in this latest report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
Record numbers of migrants died as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2014. Member States should therefore consider offering more legal possibilities for people in need of international protection to enter the EU, as viable alternatives to risky irregular entry. This is one of the conclusions from this year’s Annual report which looks at developments across the EU in many areas over 2014.
Consumers are often unaware that the food they eat or the clothes they buy may have
been produced by people working under conditions of severe labour exploitation. A new
report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows that while the EU has
legislation prohibiting certain forms of severe labour exploitation, workers moving within
or migrating to the EU are at risk of becoming victims.
Well-resourced, well-aimed victim support is vital to ensure that victims of crime have real access to justice for the suffering they have been caused and ensure their rights are respected. In the first comprehensive assessment of victim support services throughout the European Union, published today, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) notes that despite improvements, challenges remain in many Member States.
As EU ministers meet to discuss the future of the EU’s policies on freedom, security and justice, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) outlines practical suggestions in its Annual report about how to ensure people in the EU can have their rights better protected. It also maps out the fundamental rights challenges and achievements that took place over the course of 2013.
Budget cuts in the wake of the current economic crisis should not affect a person’s legal entitlement and right to access justice. This is the theme of the 2012 Fundamental Rights Conference, organised by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Entitled ‘Justice in austerity - challenges and opportunities for access to justice’, the event is being held at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Hate crime is a daily reality throughout the European Union (EU), two new reports by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) confirm. Violence and offences motivated by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, or by a person’s disability, sexual orientation or gender identity are all examples of hate crime, which harm not only those targeted but also strike at the heart of EU commitments to democracy and the fundamental rights of equality and non-discrimination.
Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2010, the flagship Annual Report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), charts the progress made in 2010 by the European Union (EU) and its Member States towards securing the rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights through developments in legislation, policies and practices. The FRA Annual Report, presented at the European Parliament today, points to promising practices and obstacles to rights protection across a range of policy areas. Some of the major challenges in 2010 related to asylum, the Roma and data protection.
Today, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is launching its report Access to justice in Europe: an overview of challenges and opportunities. The report will be launched in Budapest at the conference ‘Protecting victims in the EU: the road ahead', hosted by the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, with the support of the FRA. The report provides a comparative analysis of access to justice across the EU Member States and finds that there are many obstacles that make it difficult for victims to enforce their rights. This report relates mainly to civil and administrative procedures available to victims of discrimination. Although its focus is the area of non-discrimination law, its findings are generally applicable to civil and administrative procedures as a whole.
Protection mechanisms on paper do not yet fully function in practiceThe 2010 Annual Report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) identifies challenges in the areas of data protection, extreme exploitation in the workplace, rights of the child, racism and discrimination, and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues.
On 5 February, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty will meet EU Commissioners to better understand their priorities and explore how FRA can support their work.
The rule of law will feature at this year’s European Police Congress where the FRA Director will speak.
On 23 January in Zagreb, the FRA Director will participate in the informal Council meeting of EU Justice Ministers.
FRA will chair a panel discussion on access to remedies in practice that will look at what are the critical barriers and next steps to protecting migrants workers.
The FRA Director, Michael O’Flaherty, will speak during the plenary meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the EU (COSAC) in Helsinki on 2 December.
On 18 and 19 November in Skopje, North Macedonia, the FRA Deputy Director Constantinos Manolopoulos will participate in the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs.
FRA will take part in a stakeholder dialogue on encryption in criminal investigations.
FRA will speak at a working group on civic space during a conference in Brussels on 5 November on fundamental rights and the rule of law.
On 6 September in Brussels, FRA will present its work on criminal detention and the European Arrest Warrant during a meeting of the Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters (COPEN).
FRA and the French ‘Defender of Rights’ are jointly organising an international seminar on the challenges of relations between the police and the public as well as current practices.
The Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU has invited the Director to participate in discussions between ministers of justice at the informal Justice and Home Affairs meeting in Helsinki on 19 July.