New EU agency to promote human rights
A new European agency dealing with human rights is due to start operating in early 2007. The role of the Agency for Fundamental Rights will be to offer advice on human rights to EU institutions and countries when they are making new laws.
The agency will base its activities on the charter of fundamental rights, signed at the EU's Nice summit in December 2000. This historic charter sets out a whole range of civil, political and social rights to which EU citizens should be entitled.
Cooperating actively with civil society organisations - mainly through the Fundamental Rights Forum, a special body set up for this purpose - the agency will be responsible for collecting information and data, giving advice and raising people’s awareness of their rights.
The agency will complement the work of another EU body, the European monitoring centre on racism and xenophobia, based in Vienna and active since 1998.