EU Agency for Fundamental Rights
Delivered in Plenary - 13th December 2012
The EU Agency on Fundamental Rights is something whose necessity – particularly at a time of economic austerity – and value added I remain sceptical about, given the overlapping roles of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the OSCE, etc. I nevertheless support the agency’s efforts to improve the lives of ordinary citizens by combating discrimination and promoting human rights.
It is clear that a mandate has been provided to tackle, amongst other things, racism, homophobia, violence against women and children: issues which continue to blight the lives of far too many people within the Union. I also fully sign up to the new proposals to extend the remit to Roma integration, particularly given the long history on our continent of persecution and marginalisation of that community. Even now the Roma are treated as second-class citizens by many states and anything that can be done to improve their social and economic position is much to be welcomed.
In addition, unlike many speakers, I support the Council’s veto regarding the agency’s right to meddle in police and judicial cooperation matters, which are far better dealt with elsewhere.
So whilst I maintain considerable reservations about the functionality of the agency, particularly against the backdrop of the current financial crisis and the need to economise, I welcome its new mandate and look forward to assessing its progress in the coming years. Over this period it must meet the challenges of rights and liberties in an increasingly globalised world, where the EU is rightly held to its highest standards.