Friday, April 9, 2010

Štefan Füle: Human rights dimension increasingly important in the European Neighbourhood Policy

On 6 April, 2010, Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, addressed delegates of the 37th International Federation of Human Rights Congress, which took place in Erevan (Armenia).

According to the Commissioner, human rights and rule of law become increasingly important for EU’s foreign policy, including for the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and Eastern Partnership.

“First respect for human rights, democratic values and the rule of law is and will remain a crucial element of stability within the EU and our neighbourhood”, the Commissioner says.

“Over the past 20 years, the importance the EU attaches to these values in its external policies has gradually increased. This in part reflects the process whereby our relations with third countries have gradually widened beyond economic issues”. “Consequently since 1995 the European Community has inserted a human rights clause in all agreements, concluded with developing countries, and has defined respect for human rights and democracy as an essential element underlying the bilateral relations”, Füle reminds.

“The Lisbon treaty has now given the EU an even stronger mandate to advance these values in the wider world”, he says, adding that the treaty “clearly states that the Union’s actions on the international scene ‘shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms’ ”.

“Secondly respect for these principles is increasingly a decisive factor in determining the level of interaction between the EU and partner countries”, the Commissioner stressed.

“For our partners, coming closer to the EU depends on the commitment to reform at home, including in particular as regards respect for human rights and the rule of law”.

“But ultimately the reason for promoting human rights, democratic values and the rule of law should not be because the EU or the Council of Europe or the OSCE says that this is important”, the Commissioner argued. He added that “the case for reform lies in pure self-interest” of the partner states, as every society “faces the challenge of how it can make itself competitive, dynamic and innovative”. “Every society must seek to ensure its stability and prosperity”, and it can only do so “by realising the full potential of all its citizens”, the Commissioner believes.

“Thirdly the EU’s support for these principles in wide-ranging and determined”,Füle says, recalling the fact that “the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), with an annual budget of more than 100 Mio Euro, is specifically aimed at promoting the protection of Human rights and democracy worldwide mainly through civil society projects”.

Source: Delegation of the EU to Ukraine Website

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