Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, Director of Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb and Ana Marija Spanic, Center`s psychologist, were invited to attend the European Union Agency fo Fundamental Rights (FRA) high-level symposium ‘2007-2017: “Is Europe doing enough to protect fundamental rights – the children`s perspective”, held on 28 June 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.

The Agency, in close cooperation with the Maltese Presidency of the EU Council, invited stakeholders from around Europe to this high-level symposium where fundamental rights issues that are currently high on the EU’s political agenda were discussed. Agency’s annual Fundamental Rights Report formed the background for discussions, which were aiming to explore how we can improve the protection, respect, and, especially, the promotion of fundamental rights, with a special focus on child rights.

The Symposium was opened by Lisa Seidensticker, Chairperson of the Management Bord of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), followed by the keynote address by Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta and opening address by Tiina Astola, Director General of the Directorate General for Justice and Consumers, European Commission.

Annual Fundamental Rights Report 2017 was presented by Michael O’Flaherty, FRA`s Director, including commentary by Lotte Leicht, EU Director and Director of the Human Rights Watch Brussels Office. Two panel debates were held, moderated by Shada Islam, Director of Europe and Geopolitics of the Friends of Europe: Migration and asylum: safeguarding rights while addressing public concerns and Poverty and social exclusion: how to break the cycle, possibilities under the EU Pillar of Social Rights?.

During the first debate on migration and asylum, panel discussion followed the video with children`s perspective and included interesting inputs of Lora Vidović, Chairperson, European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia, Fredrik Malmberg, Swedish Ombudsman for Children, Joanna Goodey, Head of Freedoms and Justice Department, FRA, and Stephen Ryan, Deputy Head of Asylum Unit, Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, followed by a commentary by Verena Knaus, Senior Policy Advisor of the UNICEF Brussels Office.

Second panel debate focused on poverty and social exclusion, with discussants Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Equality and Citizen’s Rights Department, FRA, Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General, Eurochild, Patrick Charlier, Director of Unia (Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities) and member of the Board of Equinet (European Network of Equality Bodies) and Margaret Tuite, Coordinator for the Rights of the Child,European Commission, that discussed these important issues after the video with children`s perspective. Many questions and answers from the floor also contributed to the fruitful debate.

The Symposium was summarized and closed by Kaia Iva, Minister of Social Protection of the Republic of Estonia and Michael O’Flaherty, FRA`s Director. More information about the event, including event recordings, video summary and speeches, may be found on the FRA website:

Summary report to download: FRA SYMPOSIUM SUMMARY (PDF, 288 KB)

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