Victims of violence, in particular domestic violence, will soon be able to count on EU-wide protection, after the European Parliament voted with an overwhelming majority to endorse the European Commission’s proposal for an EU-wide protection order.
The new regulation will mean that citizens, in most cases women, who have suffered domestic violence can rely on a restraining order obtained in their home country wherever they are in the EU: the protection will travel with the citizens.
In practice, the EU law will benefit women in particular, the European Commission said on May 22.
“An estimated one in five women in Europe suffer some kind of violence at least once in their lives. Sadly, the most common form of physical violence is inflicted by someone close to the woman, usually an intimate partner,” EC Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, said.
“Thanks to the European Protection order, victims of domestic violence can breathe a sigh of relief: they will be able to rely on a restraining order obtained in their home country wherever they are in the Union. The protection will travel with the citizens. This is a tangible example of how the EU is helping to reinforce the rights of victims all over Europe. I would like to thank rapporteurs Antonio López-Istúriz and Antonyia Parvanova for their tireless work on this important dossier which paved the way for a swift adoption by the European Parliament.”
The vote in the European Parliament follows a political agreement between the European Parliament and Council of Ministers at a meeting in February. The draft regulation will now pass to the European Council for formal adoption, expected at the meeting of European justice ministers in June.
The Commission proposed the regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters as part of a package of measures to improve victims’ rights.
The Victims Directive – which sets out minimum rights for crime victims wherever they are in the EU – is already in the European statute book.
Both instruments will also complement the European Protection Order of December 13 2011, which ensures free circulation of criminal law protection measures throughout Europe.
“Today’s vote is a major step towards closing protection gaps for victims of domestic violence who want to exercise their right to free movement in the EU,” the European Commission said.
Ministers in the Justice Council are expected to adopt the draft regulation at their meeting on June 6 and 7.
Once the Regulation is adopted and published in the EU’s Official Journal (the EU’s Statute Book), the focus will move to implementation and ensuring that EU countries put in place both the regulation and the directive on victims’ rights so that victims of crime and victims of violence can benefit from protection in their everyday lives, the EC said.