Participation in the Colloquium was by invitation only.
See video clips from the colloquium
View interventions from participants
On 1-2 October 2015, First Vice President for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Frans Timmermans, in cooperation with EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, hosted the first Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in the EU.
The Colloquium aimed at improving mutual cooperation and greater political engagement for the promotion and protection of fundamental rights in Europe. It sought to strengthen dialogue between the EU and international institutions, policy makers, academia and civil society, and deepen the understanding of challenges for fundamental rights on the ground. Another key objective was the identification of gaps and achieving progress on topical fundamental rights issues.
For this first edition the central theme was: "Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe".
The Colloquium was held in Brussels and brought together more than 300 participants from across the EU: national Ministers, representatives of leading NGOs and international institutions, MEPs and renowned academics and philosophers.
The Colloquium looked at trends and underlying reasons of antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents in the EU, and their impact on people's lives and rights. It explored the most relevant avenues to address these phenomena. Focus was put on projects, policies and legislation designed to combat hate crime, hate speech and discrimination. Discussants looked at the role of EU and international institutions, Member States, local authorities, civil society, community leaders, the media, education and the world of employment in developing a culture of inclusive tolerance and respect in the EU. The key topics for the discussions were largely based on the input from the civil society to a public consultation open from April to June 2015 and covering the following questions .
Recent reports show an increase in fear and insecurity amongst the Jewish and Muslim communities in the EU.
A worrying increase in antisemitic incidents has been observed in recent years, culminating in the fatal terrorist attacks in Toulouse, Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen which have added to the already existing apprehension of European Jews. Several Jewish institutions have been under increasing military or police protection and more and more European Jews consider emigrating due to security concerns. In recent years, there has also been a marked increase in the number of countries where Jews were harassed. The 2013 survey by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency on Jewish people’s experience and perceptions of discrimination, hate crime and antisemitism, revealed growing fear and security concerns, and demonstrated that an overwhelming majority of Jewish respondents, particularly in certain Member States, felt that antisemitism had increased over the past five years.Another recent studyshowed that incitement and hostility rooted in theological and other discourse, far-right ideologies and Holocaust denial are growing in Europe.
Worrying trends have also been revealed with regard to anti-Muslim hatred, despite more limited monitoring and data collection in this area. Reports from civil society organisations and Muslim associations provide growing evidence in many European countries, especially in the past two years, of very high rates of anti-Muslim incidents, including acts of verbal and physical violence. In France, for example, a 53% increase of individual attacks against Muslims were registered in 2014 compared to 2012, and at least 153 islamophobic incidents against individuals and places of worship have been recorded this year during the month following the Paris attacks.Islamophobic incidents have also occurred in other EU countries, such as Sweden, where a total of 327 islamophobic crimes were recorded by the government in 2013, and several attacks on mosques were reported at the end of 2014 and at the beginning of 2015.
Against this backdrop, the EU has the historic obligation to go back to the very origins of European integration – that is securing a better common future, leaving forever behind the terrible bloodsheds that have marked our history. Living together in a pluralistic society is not possible if its members feel threatened, discriminated and insecure: every citizen, every community must feel at home in the EU. Fostering an open, pluralistic and inclusive society, which is based on fundamental rights, is key in this respect. Being able to 'disagree well' and fostering a mutual understanding of the other, and each other's differences, is another indispensable element.
DG Justice home page on fundamental rights: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/fundamental-rights/index_en.htm
 Recent reports show that in Europe Jews were harassed by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries (76%): Pew Research Center, “Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities”, 2015.
 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism”, 2013, available at http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2013/discrimination-and-hate-crime-against-jews-eu-member-states-experiences-and.
 A recent study showed that 25 % of Germans and 50% of Spaniards surveyed had an unfavourable opinion of Jews: Pew Research Center, “Latest Trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities”, 2015.
 Collective against Islamophobia in France, (CCIF)