Today, on the occasion of the 15th European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism, the European Commission welcomes a report on “Strengthening victims’ rights: from compensation to reparation,” written by Joëlle Milquet, Special Adviser to President Jean-Claude Juncker on compensation for victims of crime. The opinions expressed in the report are personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Commission or its President.

The report shows that victims often have difficulty accessing justice and receiving compensation due to a lack of information, insufficient support, overly-restrictive eligibility criteria or procedural hurdles. For persons who become victims of crime when travelling to another EU country, it can be even more difficult to receive compensation.

“This report shows clearly that we need to continue our work on victims’ rights. Ensuring that every victim of crime in the European Union gets all the necessary support is important for the European Commission,” stated the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Victims of crime deserve protection, support and respect. This report confirms the need to ensure that already adopted victims’ rights are correctly applied in practice. The Commission is closely following Member States’ efforts in this regard. We will analyse Joëlle Milquet’s recommendations to see what practical steps can be made at European and national level to further improve victims’ access to compensation. We can build on best practices in Member States and the steps we have already taken at EU level, for instance via our measures to strengthen the rights of victims of terrorism,” added Commissioner Věra Jourová.

The report takes stock of best practices in terms of protection of victims’ rights at national and EU level. It also proposes 41 recommendations on how to improve the protection of these rights, as well as victims’ access to justice and compensation.

How to help victims of crime

In October 2017, President Jean-Claude Juncker appointed Ms. Joëlle Milquet as his Special Adviser for compensation to victims of crime. The Special Adviser’s mandate included the preparation of a report on how to improve access to compensation for victims of crime.

Under the mandate of Commission President Juncker, the European Commission has taken a range of actions to fight violence and help victims of crime:

Since November 2015, the Victims’ Rights Directive lays down a clear set of rights for victims of crime, and obligations for EU Member States to ensure these rights in practice;

In March 2017, the EU adopted rules to strengthen the rights of victims of terrorism. The new rules should have been transposed by September 2018, but 7 Member States have not transposed the Directive yet. Infringement procedures are currently ongoing;

In February 2018, Commissioner Jourová took part to the High Level Experts’ meeting on victims’ rights. Experts concluded that although there has been progress in the area of victims ‘protection, rules on victims’ rights are not always well implemented. There are currently infringement procedures ongoing. Only last week, on 7 March 2019, the Commission sent reasoned opinions to 13 Member States to ensure all Member States fully implement these rules;

The European Commission is in the process of setting up an EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism. The Commission adopted a financing decision to set up the centre on 31 January 2019 and will soon publish the call for tender. The centre will start running in the course of 2019.

The European Commission will analyse carefully the different recommendations of the report and assess what can be done at European and national level to improve victims’ access to justice and compensation.