Brussels, 1st March 2007
Europe's determination to protect and promote Fundamental Rights was further boosted by the launch today of the Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna. The Commission views the Agency as a key resource to advise Community institutions and Member States, raise public awareness, and provide information and data to support Fundamental Rights work.
President José Manuel Barroso stated: "The European Commission is fully committed to promoting the respect of fundamental rights at EU level. The establishment of the Fundamental Rights Agency is a step forward in providing the European Union with the expertise it needs to successfully combat discrimination. Once the Agency is fully operational, I believe it will provide a valuable resource for the Commission and other EU institutions. I see the Agency as a complement rather than competition to work being done elsewhere ".
Vice-President Frattini also warmly welcomed the creation of the Fundamental Rights Agency "We must promote fundamental rights if we are to achieve a Europe of which we can all be proud. A Europe which is richly diverse, where people are integrated and live side by side and gender, racial and other inequalities are overcome. European citizens support this: a recent survey found that 73% of them want more EU level decision making on promoting and protecting fundamental rights. The Fundamental Rights Agency will be one of the key resources to facilitate this".
The Fundamental Rights Agency replaces and builds on the work of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). Going beyond the work of the Monitoring Centre, the Fundamental rights agency will have three key functions: to collect information and data; provide advice to the European Union and its Member States and promote dialogue with civil society to raise public awareness of fundamental rights.
During the course of 2007, the agency will become fully operational. Later this year the EU institutions will adopt the Multi-Annual Framework to define the precise areas of the Agency's activities. The Director of the Agency will also take up office. During the interim period, the Agency will focus its work on combating racism, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Among those attending the launch today in Vienna were the President and