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Commission strengthens the justice and fundamental rights dimension of future EU budgets
People in Europe need to feel at ease when they live, travel, or shop in a Member State other than their own. They should be able to rely on access to justice no matter where they are in the EU. Yesterday, the European Commission is putting forward proposals for simplified funding programmes to help build an EU area of justice. The programmes will support the EU's actions to improve European cooperation on civil and criminal law, allow people to better exercise their rights as EU citizens and promote equality. They will also help to reinforce the EU's efforts to fight crime, tackle drugs demand and supply and safeguard the rights of people (such as accused persons or victims of crime) when in criminal proceedings. The two new programmes represent a major simplification compared to the existing programmes, with less paperwork and more efficiency in their management. They will run from 2014-2020 with a proposed budget of €803 million.
"With the Lisbon Treaty, the Commission now has the tools to do more for justice, rights and citizenship. The Commission is delivering concrete proposals to protect citizens’ rights," said Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner. "But legislation alone is not enough. We need to make people aware of their rights, equip legal practitioners to apply EU laws, and share policy solutions. These two new programmes are about improving citizens’ access to justice and promoting their rights. They will improve judicial cooperation, help train judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals, fight illegal drugs trafficking and support victims of crime as well as promote gender equality and the rights of people with disabilities. They help make an EU-wide area of justice and rights a reality."
The proposed Justice Programme and Rights and Citizenship Programme will consolidate six existing funding programmes in the justice and rights field. They will support the Commission's efforts to build an effective EU area of justice, focusing on activities with an increased added value at EU level.
The Justice Programme, with a budget of €416 million, aims to make sure EU legislation in civil and criminal justice is effectively applied. This will help ensure proper access to justice for people and businesses in cross-border legal cases in Europe and support EU actions to tackle drugs and crime.
The Rights and Citizenship Programme, with a budget of €387 million, will help to make people's rights and freedoms effective in practice by making them better known and more consistently applied across the EU. It will also promote the rights of the child, the principles of non discrimination (racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation) and gender equality (including projects to combat violence against women and children).
To achieve these objectives, the new programmes will support activities such as:
Training for judges and lawyers around Europe so that they can apply EU law and rights in practice (see also IP/11/1021);
Strengthening EU cooperation on justice and rights issues through networks of legal practitioners, non-governmental organisations and policy-makers;
Practical tools for citizens and businesses to apply their rights and access justice, such as the European e-Justice portal;
National and European campaigns to inform people of their rights guaranteed under EU law and help them apply them in practice.
The Commission will also propose, before the end of the year, a new “Europe for Citizens” programme. This programme will support activities to increase awareness and citizens' understanding of the EU, its values and history, such as remembrance of Europe’s past and partnerships between cities (town-twinning).
The new programmes will consolidate six existing programmes in the area of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship which are running in the 2007-2013 funding period:
Civil Justice Programme;
Criminal Justice Programme;
Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme;
Daphne III Programme;
Drug Prevention and Information Programme;
"Anti-discrimination and Diversity" and "Gender Equality" sections of the Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS).
In the two public consultations that laid the groundwork for today’s proposals, a majority of respondents agreed that the current funding programmes should be simplified and that their number should be reduced.
For more information
EU funding programmes in the justice area:
Homepage of EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding: