The EU has taken an important step in improving assistance to victims of crime. Based on the European Commission's proposal (see IP/11/585), the European Parliament and the Council have agreed on new rules to ensure minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. The file has been a priority for the Danish EU Presidency, who in close cooperation with the European Commission and the relevant committees of the European Parliament, has worked hard to achieve consensus on the matter.
The Directive establishes minimum standards for the level of protection, support and access to justice for victims in all EU countries. It contains obligations for the Member States to provide information to victims, such as information on a decision not to proceed with the case, and to provide the information in a language the victim understands. Furthermore, the proposal ensures that every victim is offered protection measures during criminal proceedings in accordance with their needs, and that support measures are available to victims.
Member of the Parliament and Rapporteur, Teresa Jimenez-Becerril Barrio (EPP), Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), says:
"The Danish Presidency has done a fantastic job in finding a common ground between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission. On certain issues, negotiations were not always easy, but thanks to the Presidency we have found a broad consensus between all parties involved. I applause the negotiation skills and the empathic and balanced approach the Presidency has undertaken in order to safeguard and improve the rights of victims of crime. Along the negotiations the victim has always been the central core of this Directive. And in this regard, the agreement is a triumph for all victims of crime and for the judicial systems in all Member States within a more harmonised EU."
Member of the Parliament and Rapporteur, Antoniya Parvanova (ALDE), Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), says:
"The fruitful discussions and negotiation among European institutions have proven beneficial in guaranteeing basic rights for all victims in the Union. The new measures introduced by this directive will also ensure minimum standards across the EU for the protection and support provided to victims who have suffered a crime, and who may have to go through a particularly difficult process personally. It is essential as well that each victim will now be individually assessed, in order to identify potential specific protection needs.
This agreement is a major step for the rights of victims in the European Union and will definitely contribute to a better and greater protection for all."
President of the Council (Justice and Home Affairs), Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov, says:
"As a victim of crime you need help and support from the authorities. This is also the case for a victim travelling around in Europe as an EU citizen. Support for victims must be central in national legal systems. I am therefore very pleased that the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have agreed on new rules to strengthen the assistance, support and protection of victims of crime.
In my opinion the new rules are an important step to ensure that victims will get assistance and support in accordance with their needs throughout Europe. It is essential that victims receive assistance, support and protection, which take into account the very difficult situation they are in. The proposal has therefore been a high priority for the Danish Presidency, and I am grateful for the hard work and dedication shown from all parties involved.”
Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, in charge of Justice says:
"This Directive is a milestone for all the victims in the European Union. For too long now, victims of crime have been often treated as neglected appendages to the criminal justice system.
This Directive will ensure that victims of crime get the respect, support and protection they deserve. Thanks to our Directive, anyone who has suffered a crime in the European Union will benefit from minimum procedural rights - irrespective of the crime suffered and regardless of where they live or where they come from."
The proposal for a Directive on minimum standards for victims of rights, support and protection (the Victims' Directive) was presented by the European Commission on 18 May 2011 as part of its legislative package to strengthen the rights of victims across the European Union.
The Danish Presidency has been in close negotiation with the European Parliament since the end of March 2012 in order to reach an agreement. Last week a compromise was reached after intense negotiations where the European Commission acted as intermediary between the Council and the Parliament.
The agreed compromise includes minimum standards relating to victims' rights to information, legal and practical advice, interpretation and translation, the victim’s participation in criminal proceedings and their protection, including special protection if they have specific needs. Furthermore the agreed compromise ensures that victims will get access to victim support, including specialist support, and sets out minimum standards for what such support services should provide. The text also ensures that practitioners who come into contact with victims are trained on the needs of victims.
Following today's approval by the Council, the agreement will shortly be put to the vote in the European Parliament within the relevant Committees and finally in Plenary.