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The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has launched a consultation on its 2012 Annual Report and 2013 Strategic Objectives. In response to these documents, EPHA prepared its Position on the FRA Annual report 2012 and FRA Strategic Objectives 2013-2017.

EPHA Position on FRA Annual report 2012 and FRA Strategic Objectives 2013-2017

The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) is an independent EU Agency that monitors the promotion of Fundamental Rights proclaimed in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Agency disseminates objective, reliable and comparable data on the situation of fundamental rights in all EU countries within the scope of EU law. Due to its unique position the FRA is able to ensure within its mandate that European political decisions and legal acts comply with basic Fundamental Rights’ criteria.

The FRA Annual Report

On the 18th of June 2013, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published its annual report on challenges and achievements in the field of fundamental rights in 2012. The annual report provides in-depth evidence and analysis of fundamental rights developments in the European Union, its Member States and Croatia. It 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 annual report focuses on how European values are being tested and what must be done to protect fundamental rights in this period of crisis. It also considers the impact on the rule of law, as well as what some EU Member States are doing to ensure trust in their justice systems.

Examples of issues in the 2012 year’s report include:

  • The impact of budget cuts on education, healthcare and social services for vulnerable groups, such as children;
  • Roma continue to face discrimination and social exclusion, with many living in deep poverty and lacking access to healthcare and decent housing;
  • The EU is driving forward efforts to reform the EU’s data protection framework, the most far‑reaching reform of EU data protection laws in 20 years;
  • As 2012 was Year of Active Ageing the EU also focused on the challenges and obstacles facing older people, including those with disabilities.

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) Strategic Priorities (2013-2017)

After the expiry of the last FRA strategic document (FRA Mission and Strategic Objectives 2007-2012 ), the FRA is about adopting its new Strategic Plan for the 2013-2017. .

Strategic priorities

FRA’s strategic objectives for the period 2013 – 2017 are based on the results achieved by the Agency so far and the challenges that lie ahead. Importantly, the strategic priorities take into account the outcomes of the external evaluation that in 2012 has reviewed progress and achievements during the first five years of operations of the Agency. Those strategic priorities are:

  1. Enhancing FRA’s contribution to legal and policy processes at EU level
  2. Enhancing FRA’s contribution processes at national level
  3. Identifying trends over time and measuring progress in Member States
  4. Developing timely and targeted responses to fundamental rights emergencies

Thematic priorities

These are the thematic areas of the agency’s work which are determined through the new five-year Multi-annual Framework. They indicate the main fundamental rights issues and external developments foreseen in this period. Based on this, the thematic objectives, main activities and expected results for 2013-2017 are identified by the Agency.

Based on earlier positions, the Secretariat developed a document which highlights general elements in the FRA working documents, pointing out the specific links between Social Rights protection and the FRA mandate, Fundamental Rights and the Europe 2020 strategy, the Universal Access to healthcare as a Fundamental Right and reforming health systems under financial pressure.

EPHA recommendations

  • FRA could underline the importance of widening its mandate in all of its working areas so that it include Social Rights and should demonstrate by evidences the need for more social protection, presenting the legal possibilities for Member states to enhance the protection of social rights of their citizens by international commitments.
  • In line with the European Charter for Health Equity, the FRA should promote adequate social protection systems as a basic right for all persons living in Europe and adopt, implement and enforce evidence-based measures targeted to poorer individuals, families and communities.
  • In times of crisis, investments in health systems should continue, and the Fundamental Rights Agency should provide decision makers with the scientific evidence suggesting that significant reductions in healthcare budgets risk creating new inefficiencies, undermining access to and quality of care, and damaging health outcomes which can compromise basic EU principles and Fundamental Rights standards
  • Since FRA’s mandate covers discrimination based on disability, appropriate indicators are needed in FRA’s future research and data collection activity to raise awareness of such invisible groups as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients, which belong to both the public health and disability community
  • There is a strong link between the economic crisis and Fundamental Rights emergencies and the criminalisation of homeless people clearly demonstrates the danger that the economic crisis may turn into Fundamental Rights emergency situations.
  • By capitalising on its expertise in linking sociological issues with legal frameworks, the FRA can make a major contribution to ensuring that existing health inequalities will not be aggravated in an increasingly digitalised world.
  • In its Roma related activities, the FRA should focus and rely on successful practices as the European network of Roma health mediators, the civil shadow report on the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) or the training of Roma EU health advocates.
  • The FRA shall take into consideration good examples aiming at tackling children’s malnutrition.
  • The public health community clearly demands the right to provide healthcare – in accordance with medical ethics – to all patients, regardless of their social status or ethnic origin.
  • The FRA should enhance collaboration for data collection on migrant demographic and health data. For example, the Clandestino-project found a lot of variability in data qualifying across Europe. The public health community finds worth towards standardized data collection and sharing.

 

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