18 April 2023 Brussels, Belgium

ECLAN Annual Conference 2023

Stronger Victims’ Rights in EU Law? Assessment and Prospects

Published 8 months, 2 weeks ago


According to the European Commission, around 75 million people in the EU become a victim of crime every year. Moreover, due to the ever-increasing intra-EU mobility, many of such cases present a cross-border element.

Ensuring effective protection of victims’ rights has been an important part of the EU’s efforts to create an area of freedom, security and justice for more than twenty years. Since the adoption in 2001 of the Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, which represented the first hard law instrument in this area, the legal framework for the protection of victims’ rights has gradually developped. In addition to instruments relating to specific needs of victims of crime (compensation, protection measures), sectoral legislative instruments containing provisions applicable to certain categories of vulnerable victims have proliferated, as illustrated by the recent Commission proposal for a directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. This fragmented legal framework is complemented by another major instrument of horizontal scope, namely the Victims’ Rights Directive of 2012 establishing minimum rules on the rights, support and protection of victims of all forms of crime.

Despite the progress achieved in this area, important shortcomings remain with the consequence that victims of crime still cannot fully rely on their rights in the EU. As part of its Strategy on Victims’ Rights, the European Commission has conducted an in-depth evaluation of the implementation of the Victims’ Rights Directive, which brought to light the great added value of this instrument, but also some crucial remaining flaws. The need to ensure greater coherence between the various instruments forming part of the EU's tool box for the protection of victims of crime has also been highlighted by recent EU-wide comparative research.

The legislative reforms currently underway to improve the EU legal framework for the protection of victims’ rights, coupled with the negative impact of the current crises related to Covid and the Ukrainian conflict on the protection of victims, call for a closer look at the achievements and challenges in this area. A global reflection appears all the more desirable given the complex and fragmented landscape of victims' rights protection in the EU.

Structure of the Conference

Against this background, the overall objective of this year’s Eclan Conference is to assess the existing EU instruments for the protection of victims’ rights and to ponder future prospects. To this purpose, cross-cutting aspects of victims’ rights will be highlighted while focusing on several issues that have been identified as the most pressing. With a view to ensuring a variety of perspectives, speakers from the academia will intervene along with representatives of the EU institutions and the civil society.

Details on the program, fees and registration can be found on the conference website.