Nieuwsbericht | 02-07-2006
Brussels, 30 June 2006
The network of independent experts on fundamental rights has just presented its report for 2005 to Mr Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for completion of the European area of freedom, security and justice.
This, the fourth report presented by the network of experts, has been sent to the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs and to the Commissioners Group on Fundamental Rights, Anti-discrimination and Equal Opportunities.
It is published on the website of the Directorate-General for Freedom, security and justice, in French and English.
The report is the sole responsibility of the group of independent experts and is not binding in any way on the Commission as regards the suggestions or comments it contains.
The network examines a number of general questions on the main subject areas in the field of the protection of fundamental rights.
For each article of the EU Charter of fundamental rights, it points out the areas of concern as well as the positive points and good practices, both at Union and Member State level.
At Union level, the independent experts reviewed the progress made in preventing violations of fundamental rights as regards the laws and policies of the European Union, through impact assessments on Commission proposals and adopting a methodology for systematically monitoring their compliance with the Charter of fundamental rights. They suggested introducing a mechanism to identify when the Union should take legislative action to improve the protection of fundamental rights in the context of changing legislation and practices in Member States, where the powers conferred on the Union allowed it to do so.
The network of independent experts recommended an extension of the mechanism laid down in Council Directive 2004/81/EC of 29 April 2004 on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities. This instrument provides that third country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings (or - if the Member State concerned has chosen to make this extension - who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration) may be offered a short-term residence permit if they co-operate with the authorities in searching out and identifying criminals. In view of the reluctance of people in illegal circumstances to turn to the authorities, the experts considered that this mechanism could be extended to victims of domestic violence who were illegally resident in a country.
The situation of illegal immigrants in detention centres and cases where they disappear while trying to enter Union territory were also examined.
Female genital mutilation and the removal and donation of organs were also examined in the framework of the right to personal integrity. Other points related to issues of serious concern, such as domestic violence and preventing child abuse.
Positive measures taken by certain Member States to remedy problems in the field of fundamental rights were also highlighted in general terms. These measures included budgetary allocations for the improvement of detention centres and prisons, support for the integration of immigrant populations, aid for the prevention of discrimination against minorities, measures to help the elderly and the handicapped and legislation to protect the environment and consumers.
Welcoming the advent of the same-sex marriages in Spain, following the example of the Netherlands and Belgium, the network pointed out that several Member States had not yet introduced any institution such as registered partnership to deal with the legal consequences of same-sex co-habitation
In general terms, the report gave the various actors in the field of fundamental rights the opportunity to adopt good practices and may have a positive effect on all policies in the area, both at EU and Member State level. The criticisms and good practices identified in this way are messages which the various actors may take to heart.
At the same time as it published its synthesis report, the network also published its thematic comment "Implementing the Rights of the child in the European Union". This subject was chosen by agreement between the European Parliament and the Council. It illustrates the emphasis the institutions wish to place on the protection of children in Europe. It is therefore a particularly rich source of information and thought-provoking material. It gives an overall view of the current status of the rights of the child as referred to in Article 24 of the Charter. The prevention of violence towards children, trafficking in children and education issues are all tackled. The rights of immigrant children are also examined.
These texts are is the sole responsibility of the group of independent experts and are not binding in any way on the Commission as regards the suggestions or comments they contain.
Set up by the Commission at the request of the European Parliament in 2002, the network of independent experts has operated since then as a preparatory action on a contractual basis between the Commission and UCL Louvain La Neuve. The agreement will expire in September 2006. The Commission will carry out an assessment of the work of the network in the course of the year.