AuthorMichael O'Flaherty
Do human rights matter in our European societies? Adecade or so ago, such
aquestion would almost have been unthinkable. But across the EU and beyond,
human rights systems have since been under steady threat– dismissed as
political correctness gone too far, as serving only the elite, and as inconvenient
barriers to swift action.
FRA’s Fundamental Rights Survey reached out to almost 35,000 people in the
EU and North Macedonia to ask them about arange of issues linked to their
human– or fundamental– rights. This report presents asmall selection of the
The survey shows that human rights clearly matter to people. Almost 9 in 10
participants say that human rights help create fairer societies. Yet there is little
reason for complacency: many also think that not all benef‌it equally from them,
and that some take unfair advantage of rights protection.
Those who struggle to make ends meet, and those with lower education levels,
are more likely to hold such views. People with disabilities or long-term health
issues, as well as those aged 65+, also tend to be sceptical about rights in practice.
People do clearly value democratic principles, particularly free and fair elections.
But their views on other aspects of our societies vary widely. The importance
of protecting the rights of minority groups splits opinion the most between
countries. Meanwhile, the young– those aged between 16 and 29– f‌ind all
aspects related to the functioning of our societies covered in the survey less
important than older respondents do.
Sometimes the lack of trust is glaring. Many believe mainstream parties and
politicians do not care about them– including astaggering 73% of those who
f‌ind it diff‌icult to make ends meet. Amajority of people also think that getting
ajob is linked to belonging to the political party in power. Aquarter believe
that judges in their country only rarely, or never, escape government inf‌luence.
Direct experiences with corruption are thankfully low overall, but vary among
countries. The results on corruption in health services make for especially tough
reading amidst apandemic: in some Member States, over 60% say that alittle
gift or other favour is necessary to get better treatment at public hospitals.
The corrosive long-term effect of such realities is clear: one in four f‌ind it
acceptable to resort to such low-level bribery to expedite apending matter.
The nonchalance among the young is perhaps most unsettling: almost half say
they would be willing to engage in such behaviour.
We hope the f‌indings presented in this report serve as awake-up call for
policymakers– and prompt wide-ranging efforts to ensure that fundamental
rights deliver real benef‌its to everyone.
Michael O’Flaherty

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT