European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

ILGA-Europe calls for unrushed and open debate on EU Fundamental Rights Agency

ILGA-Europe together with the Human Rights and Democracy Network, the Social Platform of European Social Non-Governmental Organisations, the Concord and many national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations in Europe call upon the EU Austrian Presidency not to rush with the decision over the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. We believe there are still serious concerns and issues, which if not resolved and properly debated, could have dramatic consequences and make the new Agency ineffective and meaningless.

It is essential that the debate around the establishment of an EU Fundamental Rights Agency is not merely a technical exercise. Our organisations believe that it is particularly important that issues around independence and civil society participation are not neglected.

We are concerned that the proposals do not refer to nor fully reflect the UN Paris Principles on national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights, which guarantee the core values of independence and pluralism.

We wish to recall that to ensure independence of the future EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the roles of the European Commission and of the Member States need to be strictly defined in order to avoid too tight control over programmes and priorities of the Agency. We also wish to stress again that a key element to ensure pluralism must be that the Agency actively engages with civil society. This implies structured representation of, and effective cooperation with, human rights and social NGOs.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe said:

“LGBT organisations are concerned that the proposed Agency will not be able to deal adequately with human rights issues affecting LGBT people.  We therefore believe that it is important to give a central place to Article 13 of the Treaty of the European Union so that proper consideration is given to the rights of people who are more likely to be exposed to discrimination in accessing their rights.

We believe that this Agency can effectively complement national human rights institutions and the Council of Europe in ensuring enjoyment of human rights by everyone. Jointly with other EU Networks, we ask that adequate time be provided for discussion and consultation in order to secure the best possible result. We call upon the Austrian Presidency to delay the process as proper and open debate might provide a great opportunity to establish a strong and meaningful Agency.”

For more information please contact

Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.

(2) Background information on the Fundamental Rights Agency on our website: www.ilga-europe.org/europe/advocacy_lobbying/human_rights_mechanisms/fun...

(3) Achieving an agreement on the FRA is a priority for the current Austrian Presidency of the European Union. A working group with representatives from all member states are currently looking at the project and including amendments. Currently, they meet every two weeks.