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The EU pursues a shared culture of fundamental rights

Last updated: 08/06/2009 // The Commission is planning a European Agency on Fundamental Rights, aimed at creating a culture of fundamental rights in Europe. The agency will expand on the mandate of a current anti-racism center, to include all fundamental rights of EU members.

The upcoming European Agency on Fundamental Rights represents an extension of the mandate of the already established European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), and if approved, the new agency is planned to be operational by 1 January 2007.

“The concept of EU citizenship has evolved within the EU mindset. The EUMC focuses on fighting racism and xenophobia, while with the new agency the focus will shift to include all fundamental rights for EU citizens,” says Fred-Olav Sørensen, Counsellor for Asylum and Immigration at the Norwegian Mission to the EU.

Norway has, on a project-basis, cooperated with the EUMC and looks forward to continuing its involvement if the new agency is established.

“We see this development as very positive, as it will draw more attention to fundamental rights within the EU,” Sørensen adds.

The Commission says that the agency’s mandate will be based on the 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights and its inclusion into the Constitutional Treaty, and is further seen as a key step to the development of a “real culture” of fundamental rights in Europe.

The EU will provide the Agency on Fundamental Rights with the needed authority, mandate and budget to become an independent institution– with its own priorities and decision-making bodies, separate from national restraints.

It will have a proactive character in terms of promoting human rights and creating awareness.

Although its main focus will be within the EU, a recent public hearing report from the European Policy Evaluation Consortium (EPEC) also suggested that the agency cover candidate countries. The report further proposed that the agency take on a supportive consultative role to the EU institutions – acting as an expert on fundamental rights.

More than 200 participants from NGOs, the Council of Europe, the EUMC and Member States have been involved in the consultations leading up to the proposed agency, and the EU final decision of approval is expected in May.


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