FRANET is multidisciplinary research network of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
FRANET was established in 2011 for the purpose of data collection and research services on fundamental rights issues. Within the FRANET network, the contractors deliver various thematic reports and monthly-bulletins with respect to specific fundamental rights issues in each EU country concerned. The national FRANET teams also contribute to the annual Fundamental Rights Report compiled by FRA. As from 2019 the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University and the Faculty of Law at the University of Turku form the national focal point of FRANET. Between 2011-2018 the Institute for Human Rights cooperated with the Finnish League for Human Rights within the FRANET network. Below is a selection of some of the most recent FRA reports which the Finnish FRANET team has contributed to.
Most recent reports
Europe’s civil society: still under pressure (July 2022)
Civil society plays a crucial role in upholding people’s rights and fostering a rule of law culture. Despite positive developments, civil society continues to face numerous challenges ranging from harassment to restrictive laws. EU and its Member States need to do more to ensure a working environment that allows civil society to safeguard human rights across the EU.
Fundamental Rights Report 2022 (June 2022)
The Fundamental Rights Report 2022 reflects on the main developments and shortfalls of human rights protection in the EU Member States in 2021. Its focus chapter reviews the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s social rights, such as education, employment and healthcare. It also looks at how EU countries plan to use the EU funding made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility to counter the social impact of the pandemic. As suggested in the report, governments should involve national human rights or equality bodies in monitoring that the EU-funded recovery measures are not incompatible with fundamental rights.
In 2021, the main challenges of human rights protection concerned child rights, racism and respect for fundamental rights at EU land borders. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to take a toll on children’s well-being and education. Particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds faced a greater risk of poverty and exclusion. The pandemic fuelled discrimination, hate crime and hate speech towards migrants and ethnic minorities. Migrants faced violence or were turned away at EU land borders. Following the report’s recommendations, EU countries should increase their efforts to promote and protect the rights of all children. They should carry out effective and independent border monitoring to counter rights abuses. Their efforts to tackle racism and ethnic discrimination could be strengthened by penalising hate crime and providing better protection for victims, among other measures.
The report examines key developments since 2014 as regards guardianship systems for unaccompanied children from non-EU countries. It looks at unaccompanied children independently of their status, which includes child victims of trafficking, children seeking asylum, and children with international protection status, as well as children who do not apply for asylum but who need protection. The study outlines the situation in all 27 EU Member States and in North Macedonia and Serbia. The information presented reflects the situation in March 2021.
The report reveals that EU Member States continue to face many challenges to provide for full and effective guardianship for unaccompanied children arriving in Europe. National guardianship systems vary greatly across the EU. The support, and the type of protection offered, depends in practice on the child’s status. To address the challenges and to improve the diverse guardianship systems EU countries should, as a priority, protect all children equally and provide guardians for unaccompanied children, as part of overall national child protection schemes, no matter their status. In order to safeguard the child’s well-being and best interests, guardians should be ensured participation in all decisions affecting the child. For guardians to perform their tasks effectively, they should be provided with systematic training and on-going support.
Protecting civic space in the EU (September 2021)
Civil society organisations play a vital role in promoting fundamental rights across the European Union. But they also face diverse challenges, such as threats, smear campaigns, funding cuts and disproportionate restrictions on their right to freedom of association, assembly and expression. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened their working conditions. The situation varies considerably across EU Member States. There are also positive developments, including authorities publicly acknowledging the importance of civil society work, fully involving civil society in policy development or reducing bureaucracy for NGO registration.
The report is based on research, and on two online consultations with civil society organisations, carried out in 2020. It builds on FRA’s 2018 report on Challenges facing civil society working on human rights in the EU.
The Employers Sanctions Directive (2009/52/EC) was primarily enacted to dissuade employers from recruiting migrants in an irregular situation, but it also contains provisions to protect workers. It facilitates access to justice for exploited workers and sets out workers’ rights to claim back payment of outstanding wages. The directive also contains provisions to enhance the effectiveness of labour inspections. This report describes how the 25 Member States bound by the directive have been implementing its protective provisions, focusing on the impact these provisions have on migrant workers in an irregular situation who are victims of exploitation and other labour law violations.
The report finds that gaps remain in the enforcement of the protective provisions. Workers do not know their rights or how to complain, and even when they do, they may not receive compensation due. EU countries should do better to protect migrant workers’ rights under existing EU rules. Complaint systems should be improved, for example by enabling trade unions and NGOs to act in support of or on behalf of irregular migrant workers. Labour inspectorates should focus on protecting workers and not enforcing immigration law. This would encourage victims of rights violations to come forward, without fear of being detained and returned. EU countries should guarantee that all irregular migrant workers recover outstanding wages, through access to state compensation or freezing and confiscating employers’ assets. Countries should also issue temporary residence permits to victims of severe labour exploitation.
FRA’s Coronavirus Bulletin No. 7 focuses on equitable access to vaccines. It outlines the situation in the EU Member States from 1 March to 30 April 2021. Vaccination campaigns are beginning to bring results in the struggle to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the bulletin also identifies gaps in vaccine strategies and rollout. The focus on older people, those with medical conditions and key workers sometimes overlooked other at-risk groups. Allegations of ‘queue jumping’ in some Member States undermine trust in the fairness of national vaccine strategies. People in vulnerable situations, such as prisoners, homeless people, and migrants, risk to be left behind in the deployment of Covid-19 vaccination. Countries rarely provide accessible information on vaccine strategies and deployment for people with disabilities or in different languages for those who do not speak the national language well, such as migrants or ethnic minorities. FRA calls on EU countries to ensure fair and equal access to vaccines for all.
Fundamental Rights Report 2021 (June 2021)
The Fundamental Rights Report 2021 reflects on the main developments and shortfalls of human rights protection in the EU Member States in 2020. The particular topics covered are: the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its use by Member States; equality and non-discrimination; racism and related intolerance; Roma inclusion and equality; asylum, borders and migration; information society, privacy and data protection; child rights; access to justice; and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Some of the key challenges identified in the report concern child rights, racism and fundamental rights at borders. A focus chapter explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fundamental rights and particularly on vulnerable groups.
The report outlines some of the measures EU Member States have put in place to protect public health as Europe faces the ‘second wave’ of the Coronavirus pandemic. It highlights how these may affect fundamental rights, especially social rights, including the right to health, education, work and housing. The report covers the period 1 September – 31 October 2020.
During the reporting period many Member States reintroduced or extended states of emergency as the health situation deteriorated. Restrictions on freedom of assembly increased, and many Member States also restricted movement within their national borders. The pandemic continued to have a huge impact on the economies and labour markets of the Member States, resulting in rising levels of unemployment, especially among young people and women. The tourism, hospitality, arts and entertainment sectors were particularly affected in several countries. After the summer break, schools started again with in-person teaching, but due to rising infection rates many reinstated distance learning, posing challenges to the right to education and non-discrimination. The impact of visiting bans on residents’ wellbeing remained a grave concern for people living in institutions. Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, often living in overcrowded accommodation with poor hygiene conditions, continued to face increased risk of infection and barriers to accessing health services.
Business and human rights — access to remedy (October 2020)
Business activity affects not just customers, employees, and contractors along supply chains, but often entire communities and the environment. This makes it vital that every business complies with human rights. Holding big business responsible for its human rights violations is difficult and many victims never get justice. This comparative report identifies practical, procedural and financial barriers the victims face when they seek redress for business-related human rights abuses. For the report, FRA interviewed business and human rights experts and practitioners in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom in 2019 and 2020.
The fourth FRA Bulletin on how the Coronavirus pandemic affects fundamental rights in EU Member States covers measures in place in June 2020. During the reporting period, many governments continued to lift states of emergency, but imposed other crisis measures instead. This prompted concerns about the legal basis for such measures and on-going limitations on fundamental rights. While many restrictions on the daily life of people were gradually relaxed, constraints such as physical distancing measures remain in place. The report surveys the impact of the containment measures on public life, education, work and travel and on vulnerable groups such as people in institutional settings, older persons, persons with disabilities, Roma and Travellers, detainees, and victims of domestic violence. In its closing chapter, the report provides updated information on some of the specific fundamental rights issues addressed in previous Bulletins, namely racism and xenophobia; asylum and migration; disinformation; and data protection and privacy.
This third FRA Bulletin on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic across the EU Member States outlines some of the measures that the states have adopted to ease the restrictions imposed at the start of the pandemic while continuing to mitigate the spread of the virus. It covers measures in place in May 2020. The report looks at declarations of states of emergency, including how and under what circumstances Member States began to lift them. It considers the impact of the pandemic and containment measures on the daily life of people and on particular vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, detainees, homeless people and victims of domestic violence. As a specific question, the report focuses on the rights of older people, looking into issues such as access to treatment and testing, the situation in institutional settings, access to services and the impact of isolation. While certain measures were important to reduce the risk to health and life of older people by preventing infection, they raised questions about potential discrimination on the grounds of age. As our societies reopen, governments should take care of the needs of older people as the passage to the ‘new normal’ will likely be slower and more difficult for them.
The report reviews the fundamental rights aspects of emergency measures the EU Member States have taken to manage the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the impact of such measures on the daily life of people and on particular vulnerable groups. As a specific question, it looks into governments’ use of technology to help monitor and track the spread of the virus and highlights rights-respectful approaches to such use of technology.
This is the second FRA report in a series of four monthly reports on the impact of the Coronavirus disease across the 27 EU Member States. It covers measures in place from 21 March until 30 April 2020.
The report Coronavirus pandemic in the EU: fundamental rights implications looks at the measures EU Member States use to address the pandemic to highlight rights-respectful approaches that other Member States can learn from. It focuses on four issues underlining the need to carefully and regularly assess the impact on people’s fundamental rights as governments react to the ever-developing pandemic. These issues are: 1) impact on daily life; 2) impact on particular vulnerable groups; 3) discrimination and racism; and 4) disinformation and data protection. The report shows that government measures to combat COVID-19 have profound implications for everybody’s fundamental rights, including the right to life and to health.
This is the first in a series of four monthly reports on the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the 27 EU Member States. It looks at the impact of government measures in place in February and March on people’s fundamental rights.