Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2012

Against a backdrop of rising unemployment and increased deprivation, this FRA Annual report closely examines the situation of those, such as children, who are vulnerable to budget cuts, impacting important fields such as education, healthcare and social services. It looks at the discrimination that Roma continue to face and the mainstreaming of elements of extremist ideology in political and public discourse. It considers the impact the crises have had on the basic principle of the rule of law, as well as stepped up EU Member State efforts to ensure trust in justice systems.

The annual report also covers key EU initiatives that affect fundamental rights. The European Commission launched a drive in 2012 to modernise the EU’s data protection framework, the most far‑reaching reform of EU data protection legislation in 20 years. The EU also pushed ahead with the increased use of databases and information technology tools for border management and visa processing. It took steps to enable non‑national Union citizens to participate in European Parliament elections, enhanced victims’ rights, successfully negotiated asylum instruments which were under review and focused on the challenges and obstacles facing older persons, including those with disabilities, in its 2012 Year of Active Ageing.

The annual report looks at fundamental rights‑related developments in asylum, immigration and integration; border control and visa policy; information society and data protection; the rights of the child and protection of children; equality and non‑discrimination; racism and ethnic discrimination; participation of EU citizens in the Union’s democratic functioning; access to efficient and independent justice; and rights of crime victims.

This year’s annual report Focus section explores the fundamental rights aspects of this time of crisis. It acknowledges that the crisis has prompted discussions about the nature, scope and future of the EU, while reaffirming the principles at the EU’s heart, including adherence to fundamental rights.