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Better protection for victims of domestic violence under new EU law adopted today
Victims of violence, in particular domestic violence, will soon be able to count on EU-wide protection, following the recent adoption of a European Commission proposal by Justice Ministers from the EU Member States. The new regulation for an EU wide protection order will mean that people who have suffered violence can rely on a restraining order obtained in their home country wherever they are in the EU. Practically this means that restraining orders issued in one EU country will have to be recognised across the entire EU. In this way, the protection will travel with the individual. The EU law will benefit women in particular: around one in five women in Europe have suffered physical violence at least once in their life, according to surveys.
"The European Protection Order adopted today will help to protect victims of crime and victims of violence, wherever they go in Europe: the protection will travel with the citizen. This is an excellent example of how Europe is working for its citizens," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU's Justice Commissioner. “I would like to thank Justice Ministers and the European Parliament for their support in bringing the Commission’s proposal quickly to life. Victims deserve nothing less than being treated with respect and getting the protection they need. I count on Member States to translate the European Protection Order and the Directive on victims' rights adopted last year swiftly into reality for our citizens.”
The recent formal adoption of the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters by the Council follows a vote in the European Parliament on 22 May (MEMO/13/449). The Commission proposed the Regulation as part of a package of measures to improve victims’ rights (see IP/11/585 and MEMO/11/310). The Victims Directive – which sets out minimum rights for crime victims wherever they are in the EU – is already in the European statute book (IP/12/1200). Both instruments will also complement the European Protection Order of 13 December 2011, which ensures free circulation of criminal law protection measures throughout Europe. Today's vote is a major step towards closing protection gaps for victims of domestic violence who want to exercise their right to free movement in the EU.
Next steps: The Regulation is now to be published in the EU's Official Journal (the EU's Statute Book) and will apply from 11 January 2015. Denmark will not be participating.
On 18 May 2011, the European Commission proposed a package of measures to ensure a minimum level of rights, support and protection for victims across the EU, no matter where they come from or live.
This included a proposal for a Regulation on mutual recognition of civil law protection measures. It will ensure that victims of violence (such as domestic violence) can still rely on restraint or protection orders issued against the perpetrator if they travel or move to another EU country and will complement the European Protection Order, adopted on 13 December 2011 and dealing with criminal law protection orders.
The second proposal, for a Directive on victims' rights, was adopted on 4 October 2012 by the Council of Ministers (IP/12/1066), after the European Parliament endorsed it with an overwhelming majority on 12 September 2012 (MEMO/12/659). The directive sets out minimum rights for victims, wherever they are in the EU. It will ensure that:
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.
Member States now have three years to implement the provisions of the Directive into their national laws.
Up to 15% of the EU population may fall victim of a crime somewhere in the EU every year. The risk of being a victim is just as great when travelling abroad as it is at home. With Europeans making around 1.25 billion trips as tourists within the EU every year, some will inevitably become victims of crime in another country.
Minimum rules for victims are part of the EU's broader objective to build a European area of justice, so that people can rely on the same level of basic rights and have confidence in the justice system wherever they are in the EU.
For more information
European Commission – victims' rights
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)
Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)