European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

Definition

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is a body of the EU established through Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 of 15 February 2007, which was amended in April 2022. The agency is based in Vienna and replaced the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. FRA carries out its tasks independently. It cooperates with national and international bodies and organisations, in particular with the Council of Europe. It also works closely with civil society organisations.

Background and status

FRA’s predecessor, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, was established in Vienna by the Council of Ministers in June 1997 as part of a coordinated action to develop a policy to combat racism and xenophobia. This included the declaration of 1997 as the European Year against Racism.

In December 2003, the representatives of the Member States meeting in Brussels as part of the European Council decided to extend the remit of the centre in order to convert it into a fundamental rights agency (FRA).

Mission and work programme

According to Article 2 of Regulation No 168/2007, the main objective of FRA is to provide the relevant institutions and authorities of the Community and its Member States, when implementing Community law, ‘with assistance and expertise relating to fundamental rights, in order to support them when they take measures or formulate courses of action within their respective spheres of competence to fully respect fundamental rights’. To meet this objective, FRA must (1) provide information and collect, research and analyse data; (2) offer advice to EU institutions and Member States; and (3) cooperate with civil society and conduct awareness-raising activities.

FRA focuses on the fundamental rights situation in the EU27. Candidate countries and countries that have concluded stabilisation and association agreements with the EU can be invited to participate following a special procedure. The agency is not empowered to examine individual complaints. FRA helps, promotes and protects fundamental rights, which provide minimum standards to ensure everyone is treated with dignity. These rights include, for instance, the right to be free from discrimination based on age, disability or ethnic background; the right to have personal data protected; and the right to access justice.

FRA also administers and coordinates Franet, which is the agency’s multidisciplinary research network. It is composed of contractors in each EU Member State, in the United Kingdom and in countries with observer status that, on request, provide relevant data to FRA on fundamental rights issues. These data facilitate the agency’s comparative analyses.

Since 2017, the work of the agency has been guided by its programming document, which operates in the context of the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the anti-discrimination directives. These act as reference points for the development of the agency’s activities.

Management and organisation

The administrative and management structure of FRA consists of three entities.

  • The Management Board consists of independent experts, one appointed by each Member State, two European Commission representatives and one independent expert appointed by the Council of Europe. This body is responsible for defining the agency’s work priorities, approving its budget and monitoring its work.
  • The Executive Board is composed of the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson of the Management Board, two other members of the Management Board and one representative of the European Commission. The Executive Board prepares the decisions of the Management Board and advises the Director.
  • The Scientific Committee consists of 11 highly qualified independent people who guarantee the scientific quality of FRA’s work.

In addition, FRA is headed by the Director, who is supported by the Director’s Office and two advisers: one scientific adviser and one adviser on communications.

Related dictionary terms

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union discrimination equal treatment harassment and violence at work non-discrimination principle positive action racism and xenophobia social exclusion

 

Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.

 

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