European Networks

The European Union

At EU level, our advocacy work covers numerous initiatives and while the work of the EU institutions might seem remote to many citizens, decisions taken by the European Union have a direct impact on victims’ lives. VSE aims to bring the voices and experiences of victims and NGOs to negotiations, consultations, and debates about new legislation, to consultations and debates. We facilitate contact between NGOs and governments across Europe to ensure the exchange of good practices and peer-to-peer learning which allows for informed and sustainable decision-making.

Some of our key partners include: institutions, including the European CommissionEuropean ParliamentEuropean Economic Social CommitteeThe European Committee of the RegionsEuropean Union Agency for Fundamental RightsEuropean Institute of Gender EqualityEEASEuropol, Eurojust, CEPOL.

Since 2020, VSE is an active member of the EU Victims’ Rights Platform which brings together for the first time all EU level actors relevant for victims’ rights. It includes key actors such as the European Network on victims’ rights, the EU Network of national contact points for compensation, the EU Counter–Terrorism Coordinator, Eurojust, the Fundamental Rights Agency and civil society.

VSE is in regular contact with representatives from the European Commission on a range of subjects, but especially on the evaluation of the Victims’ Rights Directive and other piece of legislation related to victims’ issues. VSE was involved in the evaluation of the Combating Terrorism Directive, engaging with the European Commission, other EU NGOs and member organisations. VSE has also been particularly active in responding to the Commission’s calls for consultation and roadmaps.

Several in person and online meetings are regularly organised with key EU officials with the aim to present VSE’s priorities and discuss common areas of interest.

Throughout the year, VSE also monitored the debates held in committees and plenary sessions of the European Parliament. VSE was also contacted on several occasions by Members of the European Parliament to receive inputs on draft reports and issues related to victims’ rights and needs.

Cooperation with the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) is the largest European intergovernmental organisation, whose principal mandate is to safeguard human rights of all Europeans. The European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance are just a few of the bodies of the CoE.

For years, VSE has been building its relationship with the organisation, which was crowned in 2019 by VSE officially becoming a member of the CoE’s Conference of International NGOs – a rather exclusive club of civil society organisations which aim to influence CoE’s work through advocacy, policy and litigation.

This cooperation is already bearing fruit. In 2019, VSE was invited to speak at the Workshop organised by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) under the aegis of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers on the Protection of Victims of Terrorist Acts.

See the video interview of VSE’s Deputy Director, Aleksandra Ivankovic, that she gave during the event.

VSE’s collaboration with European NGOs

Since several years VSE is organising regular roundtable discussions with other EU NGOs active in the field of advocacy for vulnerable groups. While the meetings were hosted by the European Commission in the past, VSE has started to host its own discussion.

Joint Statements and Campaigning-in-Collaboration

With our EU NGO partners we are developing common advocacy language and resources, including joint statements and campaigns-in-collaboration, which do two things:

1) raise awareness on EU priorities in victims’ rights, highlighting critical gaps
2) provide information on the tangible impact of the implementation of victims’ rights in all EU member States.

Joint Efforts

2020

VSE works in close partnership with PICUM and The University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) on the theme of safe reporting for undocumented victims of crime and those living with precarious residence status. This collaboration has resulted in ongoing discussions with the European Commission.

2019

In October 2019, VSE participated in the final event of the be.safe project, an initiative Inclusion Europe launched together with project partners from Czechia, North Macedonia, Poland and Portugal, which aims to tackle Internet safety, by providing appropriate guidelines. VSE presented the campaign Crime is crime. Even online.

In September 2019, VSE participated in an event organised by REDRESS and Fair Trials in The Hague. The two-day meeting gathered stakeholders from 15 EU Member States to discuss how to improve the rights of victims of violent crime experienced in pre-trial and immigration detention.

In May 2019, the University of Ferrara’s Law Department was the stage for a day of presentations and discussions on the implementation of the Palermo Convention, which took place 15 years after its implementation. VSE, the only NGO invited, presented ‘The Obligations of Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Victims of Crime’, which identified the gaps between the obligations established in the Convention, and the measures of support and protections available to victims of crime.

La Strada International has joined with VSE, PICUM and COMPAS to focus on compensation for migrant workers. A Roundtable event, hosted by Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Victim Support Europe, La Strada International and PICUM at the European Commission aimed to:

  1. Engage with returning and newly elected MEPS and key institutional actors on the barriers to accessing compensation and unpaid wages for migrant workers subjected to exploitation and violence, including human trafficking.
  2. Discuss concrete measures that the new European Parliament and European Commission can take, including the specific recommendations of the Special Adviser on compensation for victims of crime.

2017

On the occasion of the 12th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, on 14 June 2017, Victim Support Europe organised a workshop with the Council of Europe, the European Commission and AGE Platform Europe to explore how to increase reporting of abuse to, and improve the protection of, victims.

To mark the 5th anniversary of the Victims Rights Directive in November 2017, in collaboration with End FMG EU, to support victims of violence against women and girls (VAW) we produced an infographic on Female Genital Mutilation – a form of VAW.

VSE uses the Notfound.org web app, which converts 404 website error pages into posters of missing children. The ingenious web app was developed in 2012 by Missing Children Europe and Child Focus with the help of FamousGrey and has been downloaded by over 5,700 websites. The aim of #NotFoundDay is to encourage website owners and companies to download this smart piece of technology to help find missing children in a very simple way. More information here.

EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

In January 2020, VSE was accepted as a member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (Forum, or CSF) is a network of thematically diverse non-governmental organisations from the European Union and Russia, established as a bottom-up, non-partisan civic initiative. The Forum serves as a platform for members and supporters in articulating common positions, providing support and solidarity, and exerting civic influence on governmental and intergovernmental relations. These goals are pursued by bringing together CSF members for joint projects, research and advocacy; by conducting public discussions and dialogues with decision-makers, and by facilitating people-to-people exchanges. As of today, the Forum has 174 member and supporter organisations from Russia and 20 EU Member States.

Active membership in this international network helps VSE develop awareness-raising initiatives and advocacy efforts focused on victims rights, gender equality, terrorism, cyber and hate crimes, and other areas relevant to VSE’s core activities.

The work of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is structured according to the topics and the areas of interest of individual Forum members and supporters or Forum entities. The topics are addressed by Working Groups.

VSE joined the Gender Equality Group, which brings together participants from Russia and the European Union, who have significant expertise and hands-on experience in the field of promoting and protecting gender rights and combating gender discrimination.