You are here:

Fundamental rights implications of COVID-19

Covid-19 coronavirus cells infection, Jezper ©, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on everyone. Governments take urgent measures to curb its spread to safeguard public health and provide medical care to those who need it. They are acting to defend the human rights of health and of life itself. Inevitably, these measures limit our human and fundamental rights to an extent rarely experienced in peacetime. It is important to ensure that such limitations are consistent with our legal safeguards and that their impact on particular groups is adequately taken account of.

This page highlights FRA activities to investigate the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on fundamental rights in the EU.

At the bottom of the page you can also view all FRA tweets about the pandemic.


FRA is publishing regular reports about the fundamental rights impact of the Coronavirus over the coming months.

Sign up to receive alerts on FRA’s COVID-19 project and other work.



News item - 30 Jly 2020

COVID-19 ‘new normal’ should also safeguard fundamental rights

Living with COVID-19 continues to constrain our daily lives, as a new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report shows. Moving forward, governments need to ensure existing fundamental rights challenges do not worsen and vulnerable members of society do not suffer disproportionately.

Video - 15 July 2020

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: July bulletin on COVID-19

Michael O'Flaherty introduces the July edition of FRA's bulletin on the impact for fundamental rights of Covid-19. He talks about the important role that people play who are engaged with the promotion and the protection of human rights in these times. The July edition of the COVID-19 bulletin will be available from 30 July.

Recent updates

News item - 15 July 2020

Stronger together: EU Agencies join forces to respond to COVID-19

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nine Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies (CEPOL, EASO, EIGE, EMCDDA, eu-LISA, Eurojust, Europol, FRA and Frontex) have been supporting the Member States and EU institutions in meeting the unprecedented challenges resulting from the outbreak of the virus – each agency in its respective area of work, in both the short term and the long term.

News item - 13 July 2020

Stop labour exploitation and protect workers from COVID-19

In Europe, thousands of exploited workers are forced to work endless hours with no or little pay and without adequate safety equipment. Many of those exploited workers are migrants. Their situation has become even worse during the Coronavirus pandemic, as their working conditions do not allow physical distancing or regular handwashing. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) calls on EU institutions and EU Member States to take all the necessary steps to stop the exploitation of migrant workers, ensure safe working conditions and fair pay.

Event - 9 July 2020

Heads of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their work

On 9 July, FRA’s Director will participate in a virtual meeting of the Heads of EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies.

Event - 3 July 2020

Racism and discrimination in the EU during COVID-19

The FRA Director will join EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli for a seminar on racism and discrimination in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.

News item - 30 June 2020

Respect older people’s rights when exiting the COVID-19 pandemic

Many older people in care homes fell victim to COVID-19. Many also faced months of isolation and restrictions often harsher than those enforced for other parts of the population. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) looks at how the pandemic affected the rights of older people. It highlights the need for a rights-based approach as governments shape their exit strategies.

News item - 25 June 2020

Council of Europe discusses COVID-19 impact on child rights

On 26 June, FRA joined the first exchange of views of the Council of Europe’s Child Rights Steering Committee.

Event - 24 - 25 June 2020

Human rights in the new normal - people’s views and experiences in EU societies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak

On 24 and 25 June, FRA will host interactive online sessions to mark the launch of the report ‘What do fundamental rights mean for people in the EU?’. While the discussions draw on the survey results based on people’s views prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, the impact of COVID-19 on people’s human rights, as evidenced by the Agency’s COVID-19 bulletins, will also be addressed throughout the event.

Speech - 19 June 2020

Fighting discrimination on grounds of religion and ethnicity

FRA’s Director addressed a conference on 18 June 2020 on Fighting discrimination on grounds of religion and ethnicity: vulnerabilities of Muslim communities and the effects of COVID-19 crisis. the vulnerabilities of Muslim communities in the EU. The conference was a joint initiative by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the European network of Equality bodies, Equinet. Tommaso Chiamparino, European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred chaired the event.

News item - 19 June 2020

Mediterranean migrant search and rescue– latest update

Five people per day on average died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2019, estimates the International Organization for Migration. Ahead of World Refugee Day, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency points to ongoing difficulties facing civil society rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

News item - 18 June 2020

How concerned are Europeans about their personal data online?

As governments discuss using technology to stop the spread of COVID-19, many Europeans are unwilling to share data about themselves with public and private bodies. These findings emerged from a EU Agency’s Fundamental Rights survey, carried out before the pandemic.

Press release - 28 May 2020

Tech answers to COVID-19 should also safeguard fundamental rights

Many governments are looking to technology to help monitor and track the spread of COVID-19, as a new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report shows. Governments’ using technology to protect public health and overcome the pandemic need to respect everyone’s fundamental rights.

Publication - 28 May 2020

Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 2

The coronavirus pandemic poses an unprecedented collective challenge to the right to life and to health for people living in the European Union (EU). The wide-ranging measures Member State governments are putting in place to control the spread of the virus have changed people’s daily life in ways that were unthinkable at the start of 2020. This report looks at the first wave of government measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and mitigate its impact on people’s health, the economy and society – underlining the fundamental rights implications. It showcases some of the efforts of those who are embarking on effective, rights-respectful responses to COVID-19. It covers the period 21 March – 30 April 2020.

Video - 25 May 2020

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: New COVID-19 bulletin

Michael O'Flaherty outlines fundamental rights considerations when developing technological responses to public health, as he introduces the focus of FRA's next COVID-19 bulletin.

Press release - 8 April 2020

Protect human rights and public health in fighting COVID-19

Government measures to combat COVID-19 have profound implications for everybody’s fundamental rights, including the right to life and to health, as mapped by a new Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report. Government responses to stop the virus particularly affect the rights of already vulnerable or at-risk people, such as the elderly, children, people with disabilities, Roma or refugees. Respecting human rights and protecting public health is in everyone’s best interest – they have to go hand-in-hand.

Publication - 8 April 2020

Coronavirus pandemic in the EU - Fundamental Rights Implications - Bulletin 1

The outbreak of COVID-19 affects people’s daily life in the 27 EU Member States. As the number of infected people in the EU territory began to mount rapidly in February and March, governments put in place a raft of measures – often introduced in a period of only a few days – in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Many of these measures reflect how, in exceptional emergency situations, the urgent need to save lives justifies restrictions on other rights, such as the freedom of movement and of assembly. This report outlines some of the measures EU Member States have put in place to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers the period 1 February – 20 March 2020.

Video - 7 April 2020

Video blog Michael O'Flaherty: COVID-19

Michael O'Flaherty talks about the human rights aspects in the context of the Coronavirus epidemic and introduces FRA's new report.

News item - 7 April 2020

Persistent Roma inequality increases COVID-19 risk, human rights heads say

Overcrowding and poor access to sanitation have long blighted Roma communities across Europe. On the eve of International Roma Day, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) highlight the longstanding neglect of Roma that is now leaving them highly vulnerable as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe.

Event - 2 April 2020

FRA joins European Parliament migration and COVID-19 discussions

The FRA Director will address the European Parliament’s Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on 2 April.

News item - 27 March 2020

Fundamental rights implications: COVID-19 pandemic

While the Coronavirus has an impact on everyone’s life, some people are more affected than others. From people dependent on care to those detained in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation and healthcare. For some people it is simply more difficult to escape from it. As governments increasingly implement measures forcing people to stay at home, women in particular will feel the impact. Women find themselves on the front lines – as mothers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, shop assistants.

News item - 27 March 2020

Fundamental rights of refugees and migrants at European borders

In recent weeks, states in Europe have taken measures to protect their borders to address public order, public health, or national security challenges. States also took these measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Europe. All these measures can have an impact on people’s rights, say FRA and the Council of Europe Special Representative on Migration and Refugees in a joint statement

Project - 18 March 2020

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the EU – impact on fundamental rights

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) is collecting and analysing relevant data and information on the impact for people’s fundamental rights of the measures taken by EU Member States in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

News item - 18 March 2020

Investigating the impact of COVID-19 on rights

While recognising the very real threat to health and life that the COVID-19 virus poses, and the duty of the State to ensure the public’s health, FRA is undertaking a rapid research exercise on the impact of responses to the virus with respect to people’s fundamental rights - such as freedom of movement and assembly.

Twitter feed


FRA tweets related to #COVID19