All the victims of crime across the European Union deserve support. Today's initiative of the European Commission aims to strengthen their rights across the European Union so that they receive support, access information, seek justice and obtain compensation. The proposed update of the existing Directive establishes minimum rules that go beyond those adopted in 2012, effectively addressing the evolving needs of our society, developments in technology and in justice.
The reform includes the following elements:
- Ensuring victims are well informed of their rights and provided with the necessary resources to report a crime, notably by establishing a universal Victims' helpline with an EU-wide telephone number: 116 006, and setting up a comprehensive website, which should allow also for chats and emails.
- Enhancing safety measures tailored to the specific needs of vulnerable victims (such as children, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, victims of hate crime or victims in detention): we propose improving the individual assessment of victims' protection needs – by providing that it should be initiated from the first contact with the authorities - and extending the list of protection measures available – for instance protection orders or ensuring the presence of law enforcement authorities.
- Providing access to specialised support services for vulnerable victims, such as free psychological support for as long as necessary depending on the victims individual needs.
- Facilitating access to justice by ensuring victims are sufficiently assisted in court and are empowered to challenge the criminal proceedings' decisions affecting their rights, independently of their status during these proceedings.
- Ensuring effective access to compensation by guaranteeing victims compensation immediately after the judgement. Victims should have the right to obtain a decision on compensation from the offender as part of the criminal proceedings (without the need to have recourse to another proceeding) and the State should pay the compensation to the victim directly, seeking reimbursement from the offender afterwards.
These revisions and measures proposed build upon the evaluation of the 2012 Victims' Rights Directive and the EU Strategy on Victims' Rights 2020-2025, reflecting the European Union's commitment to continuously improving the protection and support offered to victims of crime across Member States.
The Commission's proposal has to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. Once adopted, the Member States would have two years to implement the Directive into their national law. An exception is made for the use of electronic means of communication, where the Member States would have four years to set up the necessary structures.
The EU Victims' Rights Directive entered into application in 2015. Since that time, the Directive brought a positive impact on victims' rights to access information and improved victims' access to support services.
In June 2020, the Commission adopted the EU Strategy on victims' rights (2020–2025) to further step up its efforts to ensure access to justice for all victims of crime no matter where in the EU or in what circumstances the crime took place. The Strategy sets out a series of non-legislative actions in relation to victims' rights, including a review of the 2012 Victims' Rights Directive and provided that the Commission should evaluate the impact of the Victims' Rights Directive and come with a legislative proposal to update it if necessary. The evaluation of the Victims' Rights Directive, adopted in June 2022, has confirmed that it has broadly generated the expected benefits. However, it has also demonstrated shortcomings that require targeted improvement in relation to victims' main rights under the Directive. The problems are linked to the lack of clarity and precision with which certain rights are formulated and to the large margin of manoeuvre for the Member States to implement them.
The transposition of the Victims' Rights Directive has been largely completed in the Member States. In 2016, the Commission had opened infringements against 26 EU Member States for incomplete transposition of the Directive. Since then, the Commission has closed all but one infringement case.
In order to respond to the shortcomings in the Victims' Rights Directive as demonstrated in its evaluation and in numerous consultations, the Commission is proposing targeted amendments that strengthen victims' ability to rely on their rights.
For More Information
Q&A Victims' Rights Directive
EU Strategy on Victims' Rights (2020-2025)
We speak about 75 million of people around European Union every year who fall to be victims of crimes. They all deserve full protection and support. We have a good foundation, but we need to strengthen their rights. We are proposing a comprehensive set of measures guaranteeing more support for them including the most vulnerable ones. They should be among others provided with a timely access to compensation as well as to participation in the judicial proceedings.
Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency - 12/07/2023
It is our duty to help victims of crime in the most effective way possible. We work closely with those who support victims and have gained a better understanding of what victims need. This new legislative proposal aims to improve the existing rules. It would make them more effective and better adapted to victims’ needs – no matter where in the EU and in what circumstances the crime occurred.
Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice - 12/07/2023
- Publication date
- 12 July 2023
- Representation in Cyprus