27 Jun 2023 by lbigmr

The role of national human rights bodies in monitoring fundamental rights in EU funded programmes

A recently published policy brief presents benefits and challenges of attempting to improve human rights compliance.

Our colleague Katrin Wladasch, Head of Programme Line at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights), together with Kristina Allram-Naijer (OSCE) and Magdi Birtha (European Center for Social Welfare Policy and Research), has written a policy brief on the role of national human rights bodies in monitoring fundamental rights in EU funded programmes. The aim of the policy brief is to present some formal and practical possibilities for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), ombuds institutions and equality bodies to contribute to the governance structure of EU funded programmes at all levels (national, regional, local) and address advantages and challenges of their potential roles in attempt to improve human rights compliance.

The paper is based on background material for a comparative analysis commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) for the project “Providing technical assistance to national bodies with a human rights remit involved in assessing EU Charter & CRPD Compliance of EU funds.”

“Member States and the Commission shall ensure respect for fundamental rights and compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the implementation of the Funds.” This is the first of the so-called horizontal enabling conditions set out in the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) for the European Structural and Investment Funds in the funding period 2021-2027. It means that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, the rights it guarantees and the provisions it defines are to be taken into account at all stages of programmes under the current multi-annual financial framework 2021-2027 at the level of the EU as well as at the level of EU Member States.

The same regulation in its Article 8 also requires to involve “relevant bodies representing civil society, such as environmental partners, non-governmental organisations, and bodies responsible for promoting social inclusion, fundamental rights, rights of persons with disabilities, gender equality and non-discrimination”, among others, in the partnership that has to be established at the national level and has to operate throughout the funding cycle.

Given the large amount of EU funds distributed as part of the multi-annual financial framework and their significant impact on activities at national level, the application of the Charter in the area of EU funding could be a very important game changer in relation to compliance with fundamental rights throughout the EU. Awareness about the Charter rights conditionality of EU Funds and about the concrete scope of the Charter and the implications of the rights and principles enshrined for the funding areas is key for a relevant impact in the field. This applies to all relevant stakeholders, including managing authorities as well as NHRIs, equality bodies, ombuds institutions and civil society organisations.

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