The Fragmented Landscape of Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe
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The Fragmented Landscape of Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe

The Role of Judicial and Non-Judicial Actors

Edited by Lorenza Violini and Antonia Baraggia

The composite nature of the EU constitutional legal framework, and the presence of different rights protection actors within the European landscape, presents a complex and fragmented framework, still in search of a coherent structure. This discerning book provides a comprehensive perspective on fundamental rights protection in Europe, with engaging contributions considering not only the role of judicial actors but also the increasing relevance of non-judicial bodies, including agencies, national human rights institutions, the Venice Commission and equality bodies.
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Chapter 7: The Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU: A step on the way toward an integrated EU policy in the domain of fundamental rights

Lorenza Violini


The discussion on fundamental rights in the EU has very deep roots that sprouted almost at the same time as the European integration. The story is long but still needs to be further explored, especially if one aims to focus not on the main actors performing on the European “stage” but on some more hidden and underexplored bodies. Among the many actors who have played and still play a significant role in the drama, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) can be considered a background actor, the main characters of which are the Parliament, the Commission and – above all – the Court of Justice. After a short overview over the pre-history of the FRA, the present essay deals first with the difference between negative and positive integration and its consequences. It then addresses the (late) establishment of the FRA and its difficulties as evidence of the problematic situation of fundamental rights in the EU. After a survey of the activities put forward by the Agency in its ten years of life, the essay closes with some remarks on the influence this apparently second level actor has played in the very complex and busy scene of fundamental rights protection within the EU institutional landscape.

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