On the eve of the 10 year anniversary conference of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), Equinet and ENNHRI were invited to Vienna to discuss their strategic cooperation with the Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency and the heads of relevant departments.
On 27 February, Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins and Executive Director Anne Gaspard met with the Chair and Secretary General of European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), Lora Vidović and Debbie Kohner, as well as FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty and heads of departments to review past cooperation and outline future strategic cooperation.
The objective of this meeting was to discuss institutional cooperation between the three organisations, including shared concerns and opportunities for support and collaboration.
As FRA’s Director, Michael O’Flaherty mentioned at the 10 year conference, there is a challenging environment confronting human rights at present. "There are many people who are often exposed, vulnerable or at risk and need fundamental rights protection. Patterns of abuse continue such as the rise of hate speech. Then there is the rejection of human rights, and the loss of goodwill and commitment for rights among the general public." Our collaborate on combatting such negativity and increasing the space for national human rights institutions and equality bodies is therefore more important than ever.
Equinet, ENNHRI and the FRA already cooperate closely through the Cooperation Platforms on asylum and migration, Roma integration, combating hate crime, and advancing social and economic rights and socio-economic equality. We regularly attend each others meetings and events and this close cooperation will of course be strengthened.
Equinet wanted especially to share with their colleagues the importance of standards for equality bodies and is in discussion with the FRA on how to develop our cooperation on this issue. This was already discussed with ENNHRI members during their Annual General Meeting last year.
FRA are looking forward to sharing their results of the EU-MIDIS II survey in the latter half of the year. The survey results aim to provide useful comparable data on the actual impact on the ground of EU and national anti-discrimination and equality legislation and policies. This can guide policy makers in developing more targeted legal and policy responses. EU-MIDIS II data on racism and hate crime could provide evidence as to the need to implement EU law and develop effective measures to combat these phenomena. The data gathered with regards to Roma will support the European Commission in its annual reporting, as well as national and local authorities, in designing effective and inclusive Roma strategies.