EU sets up Rights Agency in Vienna

1st March 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2007, Vienna (dpa) - The launch of the new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in Vienna on Thursday will further boost the protection and promotion of fundamental rights in Europe, speakers at the opening ceremony said.EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praised the promotion of human rights as one Europe's greatest gifts to the world. "The history of protection and promotion of fundamental rights has a distinctly European flavour," he said. The agency's main functions are information gatherin

1 March 2007

Vienna (dpa) - The launch of the new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in Vienna on Thursday will further boost the protection and promotion of fundamental rights in Europe, speakers at the opening ceremony said.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praised the promotion of human rights as one Europe's greatest gifts to the world. "The history of protection and promotion of fundamental rights has a distinctly European flavour," he said.

The agency's main functions are information gathering, analysis and providing European institutions and member states with expert opinions on fundamental rights issues. It has no decision-making capacities.

The EU justice and interior ministers formally approved the establishment of the agency on February 15 after EU leaders agreed to found it at a summit in 2003. It will incorporate the already existing EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).

Representing the EU Presidency, German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries stressed that while it had not been easy to reach a consensus on establishing the agency, now fundamental rights were further strengthened. "Europe is more than free movement of persons and goods," she said.

Both Barroso and Zypries stressed that the new agency would not duplicate work done by the Council of Europe or the European Court of Human Rights.

Reacting to criticism that the FRA would be "toothless" Zypries told journalists it still remained to be seen if that would be the case. "Such an agency is always as good as those involved make it," she said.

Franco Frattini, Vice President of the European Commission said the agency must promote a culture of rights which reflected today's European realities.

It needed to compensate for the errors of a failed multicultural model and put more focus on individual rights. "Respecting different cultural identities is vital, but respect for fundamental individual rights must prevail," Frattini said

The human rights organization Amnesty International criticized the agency's weak mandate as a "missed opportunity." In a press release the organization said the FRA was a step in the right direction, but a much stronger mechanism was called for.

DPA

Subject: German news

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