Why the EU Does Not Need a Uniform Approach to Human Rights
NEW SPACES OF EUROPEAN GOVERNANCE, J. Melchior, Vienna, Facultas, eds., Forthcoming
20 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2011
Date Written: May 5, 2006
Human rights and Europeanisation raise at least three sets of research questions for political science: To explain the emergence and maintenance of European human rights regimes, to explain the implementation and compliance with particular European human rights policies; and thirdly: issues of political theory: Which human rights should be secured in Europe, by whom, and how, taking due account of what roles human rights should play in multilevel political orders, and the Principle of Subsidiarity.
Critics accuse the EU of double standards between its internal and external human rights policies: between how the human rights of EU residents are secured, and to how human rights affect EU foreign policies in a broad sense. I argue that there are multiple roles of human rights within multi-level political orders, and that these give rise to different standards for various actions. In particular, while the EU does need a consistent set of human rights policies, we may accept stricter standards against Member States than against other states, yet be more restrictive concerning the appropriate kinds of intervention to correct violations. A ‘uniform’ policy is thus not required. The mechanisms of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe that increase subsidiarity and human rights do enhance the legitimacy of the EU, and promote much needed trustworthiness. But they are incompletely developed and operationalised in the document; they stand in some internal tension; and seem partly at odds with standard normative theory.
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By Ian Manners