The 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard

The European Commission has recently published the 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard. The Scoreboard provides information on quality, independence and efficiency of judiciaries in all EU Member States. The Commission notes in conclusion that :

The 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard reflects the efforts undertaken by Member States to render their national justice systems more effective. It shows certain improvements but at the same time reveals that reaping the benefit of justice reforms takes time. Commitment and determination are therefore indispensable to achieve more effective justice.

A short factsheet is available here.

Fundamental Rights and Migration to the EU – From Rhetoric to Action ?

20141110_143731The Annual Fundamental Rights Conference of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights took place last week in Rome. This year’s conference focused on Fundamental Rights and Migration to the EU. The Annual Conference has again opened and highlighted problems of the ineffective national frameworks for the protections of rights of migrants to the EU. Laura Boldrini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, for instance, noted that »politics has immense responsibility« and argued for »stronger European instruments« to prevent deaths in the Mediterranean. Smaller Eastern and Southern European states are faced with immense burden due to high influx of migrants, whereas the current EU of framework for refugee protections is almost non-existent or to say at least non-efficient. However, it is feared that words will be left again without accompanying actions. Lot of urges and calls have been heard. However, not much is expected to change as politicians, particularly from the Northern European States, have to fulfill wishes of their electorate. The FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum, therefore, observed that »no other topic more important in human rights protection in EU«. He argued that »we cannot ask small states and regions to take large burden« and that »common reception centers and more effective system of relocation could be established across EU”. A move from rhetoric to action is desperately required to prevent further deaths in the Mediterranean.

Vacancy notice for new FRA Director

The vacancy notice for the position of new Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights was published on Friday in the Official Journal of the European Union. Strangely enough, the notice only asks for 5 years of experience (out of 15 years of the required professional experience) in the field of fundamental/human rights.

Hearing of Frans Timmermans

The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has earlier this week conducted the hearing of Frans Timmermans, current Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, and First Vice-President designate of the European Commission in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Here is his opening statement at the hearing :

The full video of his hearing is available here and its summary here. It seems that the candidate impressed MEP, however it remains to be seen if Juncker Commission will be approved in the end.

FRA Annual Report 2013 calls for an EU strategic framework on fundamental rights

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has recently published its 2013 Annual report. This year’s report is much shorter than previous annual reports reflecting the useful comments the Agency received from its Scientific Committee and the Management Board. Particularly interesting are focus section on strengthening fundamental rights protection within the EU and section on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights before national courts and non-judicial human rights bodies. What is more, the Report argues for “an EU strategic framework on fundamental rights” as “renewed commitment to fundamental rights could be instrumental in ensuring that the EU and its Member States conform to their obligation to “respect the rights [as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights], observe the principles and promote the application thereof” (p. 10, footnote omitted). What is more, “providing a new internal EU strategic frame‑work would be beneficial to promote “the well‑being of its peoples”, including social progress and social inclusion, “social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child”” (Ibid.). The report and such call are undoubtedly refreshing, however it is yet to be seen if the Member States will heed such calls. Here is the summary of entire reports’s findings :

The EU and its Member States took a variety of important steps in 2013 to protect and promote fundamental rights by assuming new international commitments, revamping legislation and pursuing innovative policies on the ground. Yet, fundamental rights violations seized the spotlight with distressing frequency: would-be migrants drowned off the EU’s coast, unprecedented mass surveillance, racist and extremist-motivated murders, child poverty and Roma deprivation.

In response, the EU completed a series of important legal reforms, particularly in asylum, while Member States worked to transpose the EU Victims’ Directive into national law and pursued their national Roma integration strategies. Still, new laws on the books do not necessarily transform the situation on the ground. Crisis-driven austerity measures raised some fundamental rights concerns. A persisting gap between law and practice troubled a broad spectrum of human rights observers, particularly in asylum policy, Roma integration and child and victims’ rights.

This year’s report also features two new chapters, one on Roma integration following the drawing up of the national Roma integration strategies and a second looking at the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and especially its use before national courts as it approaches its fifth anniversary as a binding document.

New book on Kadi case

9780415640312Matej Avbelj, Filippo Fontanelli, Giuseppe Martinico have recently co-edited a book on “Kadi on Trial – A Multifaceted Analysis of the Kadi Trial” (Routledge 2014).  Here is the abstract :

The judgment of the European Court of Justice concerning the Kadi case has raised substantive and procedural issues that have caught the attention of scholars from many disciplines including EU law, constitutional law, international law and jurisprudence. This book offers a comprehensive view of the Kadi case, and explores specific issues that are anticipated to resonate beyond the immediate case from which they derive.

The first part of the volume sets out an analysis of the new judgment of the Court, favouring a “contextual” reading of what is the latest link in a judicial chain. The following three parts offer interdisciplinary accounts of the decision of the European Court of Justice, including legal theory, constitutional law, and international law. The book closes with an epilogue by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, who studies the role of the Kadi case in the methodology of international law and its contribution to the concept of global justice.

The book brings together legal scholars from a range of fields, and discusses pressing topics such as the European Union’s objective of ‘the strict observance and the development of international law’, the EU as a site of global governance, constitutional pluralism and the protections of fundamental rights.

FRA Report on the right to political participation for persons with disabilities

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has today published a new report on “the right to political participation for persons with disabilities: human rights indicators”. Here is the abstract :

The human rights indicators presented in the report show that legal and administrative barriers, inaccessible processes and information, and a lack of awareness about political rights can deny persons with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the political lives of their communities. The research also reveals the absence of reliable and comparable data about persons with disabilities’ experiences of taking part in elections in the EU. Addressing these challenges as soon as possible is essential for increasing the legitimacy of public institutions and creating more equitable and inclusive societies in which all members can participate fully.

FRA on Criminalisation of migrants in an irregular situation

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has recently published a new paper on the “Criminalisation of migrants in an irregular situation and of persons engaging with them”. The paper notes that :

FRA research has highlighted the risk that domestic EU Member State legislation on the facilitation of entry and stay may lead to the punishment of those who provide humanitarian assistance or rent out accommodation. Fishermen fear punishment for rescuing migrants in distress at sea, under the rules on facilitation of irregular entry.

… The use of criminal sanctions and imprisonment to fight irregular migration harms not only the persons concerned, but also casts a negative light on how society as a whole perceives them. (footnotes omitted, p. 1-2 of the report)

FRA survey on violence against women in the EU

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has today published a ground-breaking, first, EU wide survey on violence against women. It is based on 42,000 interviews with women in the 28 Member States of the European Union. Morten Kjaerum, director of FRA, writes in his foreword to the report that :

The survey asked women about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (‘domestic violence’), and also asked about stalking, sexual harassment, and the role played by new technologies in women’s experiences of abuse. In addition, it asked about their experiences of violence in childhood. What emerges is a picture of extensive abuse that affects many women’s lives, but is systematically under-reported to the authorities. For example, one in 10 women has experienced some form of  sexual violence since the age of 15, and one in 20 has been raped. Just over one in five women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from either a current or previous partner, and just over one in 10 women indicates that they have experienced some form of sexual violence by an adult before they were 15 years old. Yet, as an illustration, only 14 % of women reported their most serious incident of intimate partner violence to the police, and 13 % reported their most serious incident of non-partner violence to the police.

FRA Report on data protection remedies

The European Union Fundamental Rights Agency has recently published report on “Access to data protection remedies in the EU Member States”. The report highlights the “victims’ lack of understanding and awareness about data protection and the authorities that serve to help them”.