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European Commission


Brussels, 24 November 2012

Statement by Vice-President Reding ahead of the International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women

Ahead of the International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women (25 November 2012), Vice-President Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner made the following statement:

“Across Europe, around 1 in 5 women have suffered physical violence at least once in their lives and 1 in 10 have suffered forced sexual violence. Violence against women is the most brutal manifestation of gender inequality and is a violation of human rights that Europe must not and cannot ignore.

The European Union is working to deliver results not only on International Days, but on all 365 days a year. In May 2011, the European Commission proposed a new European law on victims’ rights. Sixteen months later the law was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council and is in the statute book of the European Union. This new law is a breakthrough for victims of crime and for all women who have fallen victims of violence. It guarantees rights for all victims, wherever they are in Europe. They have the right to be treated with respect by authorities, to receive information about their rights and their case, to receive proper support, and to participate in proceedings if they wish, for example by attending the trial.

Victims of gender violence will benefit. Authorities will have to identify vulnerable victims – such as a victim of rape – and give them proper protection while the police investigate and while the courts prosecute.

I expect to see Member States swiftly transposing this Directive as a matter of priority to address the needs of millions of Europeans and their families every year.

We have also proposed a European Protection Order to make sure that women who are victims of violence in their homes are better protected. This will complete existing EU laws in the field of penal law to ensure that a barring or restraining order issued against a violent partner in one Member State can be automatically recognised in another state if the victim moves or travels. Protection should not be lost just because the victim decides to travel in the EU.

I call on national Justice Ministers in the Council to reach an agreement soon on the European Protection Order civil law mechanism to make better protection for women throughout the EU a reality."


The EU directive on minimum standards for victims was tabled by the Commission in May 2011 (IP/11/585 and MEMO/11/310). Its publication in the Official Journal on 14 November 2012 followed adoption by the Council of the EU (IP/12/1066) and a plenary vote in the European Parliament (MEMO/12/659). This came after the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement in June following intense negotiations mediated by the European Commission.

The new EU Directive on minimum standards for victims will ensure that, in all 27 EU countries:

  • victims are treated with respect and police, prosecutors and judges are trained to properly deal with them;

  • victims get information on their rights and their case in a way they understand;

  • victim support exists in every Member State;

  • victims can participate in proceedings if they want and are helped to attend the trial;

  • vulnerable victims are identified – such as children, victims of rape, or those with disabilities – and are properly protected;

  • victims are protected while police investigate the crime and during court proceedings.

For more information

European Commission – victims' rights

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

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