The impact of the crisis on fundamental rights across the Member States of the EU
Client: European Parliament
Human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are universal values embedded in the European Union Treaties. For over 60 years, the EU and Member States have implemented measures to ensure these values are respected. However, the economic crisis has forced Member States to introduce structural reforms, cutting public expenditure and availability of social benefits, for example in the areas of health and education. In this context, the European Parliament awarded Milieu the project ‘The impact of the crisis on fundamental rights across Member States of the European Union’ under the Multiple Framework Contract ‘Fundamental rights and their implementation’.
This study addresses how the measures taken due to the economic crisis affect the implementation of fundamental rights in different Member States. It analyses the situation in seven Member States in which, at first sight, the crisis had an impact on fundamental rights: Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. In addition, a representative set of fundamental rights were selected for in-depth research in order to provide more detailed results. These rights are:
- the right to healthcare
- the right to education
- the right to pension
- the right to work
- the right of access to justice
- the right to freedom of expression and assembly
Furthermore, a number of other rights of special relevance to only some Member States were analysed. These were the right to housing in Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland and Spain; right to property in Greece, Cyprus and Italy; right to collective bargaining in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Portugal; right to holidays in Portugal; freedom of information in Greece; right to social security in Ireland and Portugal; right to water in Ireland; and the prohibition of discrimination in Greece.
The study also assessed the relationship between the public reactions to the austerity measures and the freedoms of expression and assembly, and took stock of the reactions of international and European monitoring mechanisms with respect to these measures.
The national level studies were based on desk research and stakeholder interviews and the key findings were synthesised in a comparative analysis report of all the rights examined.
The findings were presented at a hearing at the European Parliament on behalf of the LIBE Committee.