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Press release

EU-wide civil law protection for victims of stalking or gender violence

Women's rights/Equal opportunities / Fundamental rights - 19-03-2013 - 17:05
Committees : Women's Rights and Gender Equality / Legal Affairs
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Victims of stalking, harassment or gender-based violence who are granted protection in one EU member state would get fully equivalent protection if they freely move to another under new rules approved by the Legal Affairs and Women's Rights committees on Tuesday. The new EU rules would add civil law protection to the criminal law protection already enforced under the European Protection Order (EPO) Directive.

A law that would eliminate all the formalities currently required to ensure recognition and enforcement of civil protection measures for people under threat who cross the EU's internal borders was approved by both committees in a joint vote with 32 votes in favour and 2 abstentions.

"Administrative procedures for victims have to be more straightforward as we need to ensure that they are protected whenever they travel or move to another member state" said Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, BG), Parliament's co-rapporteur on the regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters. "The continuity of specialist support services to victims of gender-based violence and specialist training for officials likely to deal with cases of violence against women is an important part of the protection", she added.

Making protection easier to get
Under the new rules, any victim of gender violence, abduction or aggression who has been granted protection in one EU member state, would just need to fill in a standard multilingual certificate to have his or her right to protection fully enforced throughout the EU.

Co-rapporteur Antonio López- Istúriz (EPP, ES) said: "The EU institutions work to solve the problems that affect any EU citizen, regardless their nationality or to which EU country they are moving. Also, it is necessary for the EU member states to make information on these protection measures available in their education campaigns".

MEPs amended the proposal to ensure that EPO rules cover all threats to people's physical and moral integrity, including threats to dignity, security, personal freedom and. sexual integrity.

They also proposed that it should be possible to request the multilingual certificate online and that the cost of the recognition procedure should be waived for victims.

The proposed regulation on civil matters complements the EPO Directive on criminal cases. Together, the two instruments would cover the broadest possible range of protection measures taken by member states. A typical example of such a measure would be an order requiring a stalker to stay away from places frequented by the victim and refrain from contacting her.

Next steps
This regulation will apply to cross-border cases with effect from 11 January 2015.

Committee on Legal Affairs and Committee on Women's Rights
In the Chair: Klaus-Heiner LEHNE (PPE, DE) and Mikael GUSTAFSSON (GUE/NGL, SV)
Procedure: ordinary legislative, first reading
Rapporteurs: Antonio Lopez-Istùriz White and Antonyia Parvanova

REF.: 20130319IPR06694