As of this Sunday, victims of violence - notably those who have suffered domestic violence or stalking – will be able to guarantee themselves better protection in any EU Member State. The new rules mean that restraining, protection and barring orders issued in one Member State are now quickly and easily recognisable across the EU through simple certification.
"Rights of the victims of violence will now be guaranteed outside their own country too, wherever they are in Europe", said Věra Jourová, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. "In the EU, an estimated one in three women face violence at some point in their life."
A citizen who has suffered domestic abuse will now be able to feel safe to travel outside their home country – by simply transferring the order that protects them from the offender. Previously, victims would have to go through complex procedures to get their protection recognised in other EU Member States – and enter a different procedure for certification in each country. Now, such protection orders will be easily recognised in any EU Member State, meaning a citizen who has suffered violence can travel without having to go through burdensome procedures.
"The new procedure will mean that women or men who suffer violence can have the protection they deserve and go on with their lives. They will be able to choose to live in another EU Member State or to travel on holiday without fearing for their safety,"Věra Jourová added.
The new mechanism consists of two separate instruments: the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters and the Directive on the European Protection Order. Together, the two instruments will ensure that all victims of violence have the possibility to get their protection orders recognised in any EU Member State. The mechanisms reflect the differences in the Member States’ national protection measures, which can be of civil, criminal or administrative nature. The rules together will ensure free circulation of the most common types of protection measures within the EU.
More support needed for victims
The need for support and protection of victims is backed up by a report published today by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which concludes that more targeted victim support services are needed in the EU. Despite improvements, challenges remain for victim support services in many Member States. Specific suggestions for improvement include ensuring victims have access to targeted support services - including trauma support and counselling, removing bureaucratic hurdles for victims to legal aid, and ensuring people have information about their rights and the services available.
The European Commission is committed to improving the rights of the 75 million people that become victims of crime each year. In 2012, an EU directive setting minimum standards for the rights, support and protection of victims across the EU became law (IP/12/1066) and will become binding on Member States by 16 November 2015. With measures such as the EU-wide protection orders that apply as of Sunday, and the minimum rights for victims, the European Commission is working to strengthen the rights of persons who fall victims to crime wherever they are from, and wherever in the EU they should fall victim to crime.
The Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters received backing by the European Parliament in May 2013 (MEMO/13/449) and by Ministers in the Justice Council in June 2013 (IP/13/510), complementing the Directive on the European Protection Order, adopted in December 2011. Both instruments enter into application on 11 January 2015. In line with the Lisbon Treaty, Denmark will not be participating.
To reinforce existing national and EU measures on victims' rights, the European Commission proposed,on 18 May 2011, a package of measures (IP/11/585) to ensure a minimum level of rights, support and protection for victims across the EU. It included the Directive on victims' rights, the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters, and a Communication presenting the Commission's current and future action in relation to victims.
For more information
- EU Agency for Fundamental Rights Report: https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2015/victims-crime-eu-support
- Europa – rights of the victim: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/victims/rights/index_en.htm
- Factsheet -"European Commission actions to combat Violence Against Women": http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/documents/140303_factsheet_vaw_en.pdf
- EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) EU-wide survey on Violence Against Women factsheet (March 2014): http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/vaw-survey-results-factsheet
- Webpage of Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality: http://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/jourova_en
- Follow the Commissioner on Twitter: @VeraJourova
- Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice