Fundamental Rights Report 2023: The implications of the war in Ukraine


On 8 June, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published its annual report on the fundamental rights situation in the EU. Against the backdrop of Europe grappling with an unprecedented scale of forced population movements, this year’s report has a special focus on the fundamental rights implications for the EU of the war in Ukraine. Serving as a compass, this annual report presents an in-depth analysis of the state of fundamental rights within the EU, highlighting emerging trends, persistent issues, and potential avenues for progress through opinions.

Over a year after the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the FRA report gives an overview of the living conditions of displaced Ukrainians in the EU, under the Temporary Protection Directive. The 2023 Report (as shown in a previous Report and ETUCE news item) shows that, despite efforts, an array of breaches of fundamental rights such as sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, discrimination, xenophobic disinformation, sexual and labour exploitation, and hate speech have been reported. Access to the labour market, to suitable and secure accommodation, and healthcare also remain important obstacles in several EU Member States. Despite Member States efforts to grant displaced Ukrainian children access to education, many still use only remote education services provided from Ukraine, face language barrier issues, or do not benefit from adequate living conditions to pursue education.

The report also presents a compilation of findings pertaining to a range of subjects encompassing equality and the rights of minorities, as discrimination continues to persist across the EU. Anti LGBTI speech and policies, as well as racism remained a significant challenge across the EU, with human rights bodies raising concerns about the rise of hate targeting Jews, Muslims, migrants, and ethnic minorities. For example, the FRA report alarms on the worrisome situation of Roma children, as the education gap between Roma children and children from the general population remains significant and as the segregation in education is increasing since 2016. Additionally, the European Commission initiated infringement procedures against three Member States (Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia) for discriminating against Roma children in the education system.  

Additionally, the report measured developments in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). At the national level, there are still significant disparities in the level of participation of people with disabilities in the labour market and the education system compared to others. One of the primary obstacles to accessing the labour market is the persistent segregation within the education system in certain EU Member States, contravening Article 24 of the CRPD. Unfortunately, individuals with disabilities continue to encounter significant barriers when trying to access education systems. Indeed, they are less likely to complete secondary education, obtain diplomas that are beneficial for full participation in the job market, and enrol in or complete higher education. Additionally, there are challenges in the transition from education to the labour market, including inadequate accessibility in buildings and other learning environments for people with disabilities. ETUCE strongly believes that education is a fundamental right as stipulated in Article 14 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, today the FRA report findings show that access to quality education for all is still not a reality for many in the EU. The lack of access to education is most often related to discrimination, social exclusion and poverty, as the number of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion continued to increase in 2022. The report findings highlight the need for a focus to be made on inclusive education, as set out in the ETUCE Action Plan on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.