European Commission and FRA support essential for NHRIs’ fundamental rights monitoring of EU funds
The European Commission’s 2021 Common Provision Regulation (CPR) on EU funds outlines a potential role for NHRIs to monitor if their spending is compliant with fundamental rights set out in the EU Charter and UN CRPD. In a new statement, ENNHRI calls on the European Commission – together with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) – to help NHRIs fulfil this crucial role.
Involving NHRIs in monitoring EU structural funds is an ideal way to raise awareness and engage with policy makers and civil servants who otherwise might not work on fundamental rights. If fundamental rights are taken into account while developing and implementing structural reforms at national level, it can have a major positive impact on the enjoyment of human rights in the relevant country.
At the same time, there are important limitations on the role NHRIs can play. These link to the need to safeguard their independence, dedicate resources to an additional role without likely receiving additional funding, and train staff on a technical EU Regulation.
The statement also highlights how NHRIs have also flagged a risk of repercussions. If state authorities are found to be non-compliant with the EU CPR, it might affect their willingness to cooperate with actors involved in compliance checks, including NHRIs. Importantly, there is no EU mechanism in place to prevent such reprisals or protect actors at risk because of their involvement in implementing the implementation of the EU CPR.
In order that NHRIs can take up the opportunities for fundamental rights that the CPR offers, ENNHRI calls on the Commission – supported by FRA – to ensure timely EU guidance, as well as technical, financial, and political support to NHRIs who monitor EU CPR implementation. This echoes ENNHRI’s submission to the Commission’s annual report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This also flags the need for the Commission to ensure adequate protection for human rights defenders throughout the EU.
ENNHRI stands ready to provide further information to the Commission and FRA to enable them to provide guidance and support to NHRIs in compliance with the UN Paris Principles.
Read ENNHRI’s statement on NHRIs’ role in fundamental rights monitoring of EU funds.