: "Vice-President of the European Commission, EU Justice Commissioner Putting Victims first"

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you today to discuss victims rights.

First of all, I want to thank the European Law Academy – ERA for organising this conference. I very much appreciate the central role of ERA in promoting knowledge and training on EU law and on the development of an effective European judicial area. Today’s event is very timely and shows how central ERA’s events are to the European political cycle. As you are aware, the Commission has recently presented proposals to strengthen victims’ rights which I will be explaining to the Justice Ministers of the European Union tomorrow in Luxembourg. I would also like to thank you, legal practitioners, academics, victims’ rights experts and campaigners for your dedication in promoting the voice and the rights of victims. Your insights and expertise have been essential to our work. Strengthening victims’ rights is a strategic priority of the Commission and an important step forward for the European area of justice. Stronger rights for victims mean a stronger justice system. Our criminal justice systems focus on catching criminals and punishing the offenders. In the process they end up neglecting victims. Tough words about crime do not do anything for victims, unless they are followed up by concrete action. This is why we need to rebalance justice in Europe to provide victims of crime with the services, compensation and information that they need. In other words we must put victims first.

That is why I presented a package of proposals on victims’ rights on 18 May. But why are the rights of victims so important?

Why are the rights of victims important?

Simply put, it is a universal problem – crime concerns us all.