Vienna, 29 December 2006 - "The establishment of the Fundamental Rights Agency has been an Austrian concern for many years, something that we have consistently supported and successfully pursued," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, referring to the forthcoming establishment of the new agency, preparations for which started in early December.
"This will further strengthen the position of Vienna - already the seat of 18 important international organisations and institutions - as a European and international centre, bringing the city considerable political and economic advantages. I am particularly pleased that this new institution will strengthen the visibility of the EU as a union of values, law and human rights," continued Plassnik.
As a successor to the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia based in Vienna since 2000, the new EU Fundamental Rights Agency is scheduled to begin operations in the spring, with a tentative date set for March 2007. The original start-up date, which had been scheduled for 1 January 2007, had to be postponed because the formal decision on its establishment by the EU Council could not be taken before January this year.
The Fundamental Rights Agency will act as a central body and point of contact for all EU institutions in relation to human rights issues. By giving advice and support, it is intended to ensure compliance with fundamental rights as regards legislation and implementation of EU law. Supporting the EU and its Member States in combating racism and xenophobia remains a priority of the new agency.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213