The Constitutional Treaty: The Answer to the European Union's Quest for a Consistent Human Rights Policy

International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, Vol. 13, Nos. 3-4, pp. 209-222, 2006

14 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2010

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

The European Union is often accused of a patchy and inconsistent approach to human rights. The commitment has long been there, albeit vaguely: the Rome Treaty of 1957 commits to “preserve and strengthen peace and liberty”. But critics charge that the EU applies double standards when it responds to ‘internal’ human rights violations differently in some Member States than in others. The most notable case is perhaps ‘The reaction against Austria’ in 2000 against the inclusion of the xenophobic Freedom Party in government. The protests included various diplomatic protests, ending bilateral political contacts, and rejection of Austrian candidates for international offices. The EU was not formally involved in the interventions, but the Portuguese Presidency of the Council was crucial: he coordinated the responses, and helped resolve the crisis by an invitation to the President of the European Court of Human Rights to appoint a committee of experts – ‘the Wise Men’. Their report recommended that the reactions come to an end. Critics of the responses claimed that small Austria was being singled out: larger Member States would never be subject to such reactions.These reflections 1) identify some relevant features of the evolving European Union; 2) identify several somewhat conflicting roles of human rights as triggers for various kinds of actions by different agents; 3) consider several functions of human rights protests; and finally 4) draw some tentative implications for ‘internal’ human rights policies in the European Union. It will not be the last time that the Union must consider appropriate responses to a State government with platforms or profiles apparently at odds with the emerging value platform of the European Union.

Keywords: European Union, Human rights, the Constitutional Treaty, normative political theory

Suggested Citation

Follesdal, Andreas, The Constitutional Treaty: The Answer to the European Union's Quest for a Consistent Human Rights Policy (2006). International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, Vol. 13, Nos. 3-4, pp. 209-222, 2006 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1680284

Andreas Follesdal (Contact Author)

Pluricourts ( email )

P.O. Box 6706
St. Olavs plass 5
0130 Oslo
Norway

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