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Fundamental Rights Agency

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to her statement in Prospects for the EU in 2006 (Cm 6896), what role the Government envisages for the Fundamental Rights Agency which would not conflict with the Council of Europe's activities; and if she will make a statement. (89839)

The Government consider that the agency should concentrate upon the areas in which it has the greatest potential relevance and utility without duplicating the work carried out by the Council of Europe. Its primary purpose (building upon the mandate of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia) should be as a fact-finding and opinion-giving body able to deal with fundamental rights issues in community law. The Council of Europe will appoint an independent person to the agency's management board to ensure there will not be any overlap between the agency and the Council of Europe. In carrying out its tasks, the agency will refer to the work of the Council of Europe and the Commissioner for Human Rights. A memorandum of understanding is also being negotiated between the European Commission and the Council of Europe to set out the terms of co-operation between the agency and the Council of Europe.