In a perfect world…

The European Union (EU) acknowledges that human rights violations have increased in volume and intensity and civil society has seen its actions curtailed, and therefore decided to keep human rights at the heart of its actions.

The EU has secured the engagement of stakeholders and ensured focused objectives, as well as enhanced visibility and accountability. It has developed its tools and resources and formulated and implemented a coherent policy. It has increased mainstreaming of human rights, which has led to concrete changes on the ground. Furthermore, the Council Working Group is based in Brussels and was therefore able to contribute to strengthened cooperation with civil society by mainstreaming consultation and dialogue with NGOs.

Some of the EU’s human rights activity has become part of its daily work and therefore no longer needs to be specifically prioritised. Other human rights violations, such as discrimination and migration, remain unsolved challenges and need renewed political commitment. The EU will therefore put forward an Action Plan for the coming years that will be translated into Country-Specific Recommendations for each EU member state. The Action Plan will also guide the EU’s engagement with the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

The EU will empower itself with all instruments, tools and policies at its disposal and look for alternative approaches to tackle the challenges ahead. It will also ensure a balance between civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, as well as fostering coherence and consistency.

In a perfect world this would be what European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the European Commission would commit to in relation to the EU’s 28 member states. Unfortunately this is not the case. This is not EU’s internal work – these words originate from the EU’s External Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2012-2014) and plans for its forthcoming Action Plan (2015-2019) (read more about it here).

The EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2012) demonstrates political leadership: we want the EU to be coherent in both its external and internal ambitions. We therefore call for an EU Internal Strategy to Promote Human Rights that will address the impact of EU and member state policies and action on the human rights of people living in Europe.

On a positive note, Social Platform, as a part of the Human Rights and Democracy Network (HRDN) has established relations with the Council Working Group dealing with human rights in external affairs (COHOM) and in internal affairs (FREMP). On Monday 5 June HRDN is invited to a joint COHOM and FREMP meeting to share some of our concerns, this time focusing on children’s rights and racism. While the agenda is pre-set and our opportunity to interact is limited, it is a unique opportunity we welcome, slowly establishing a civil dialogue with the Council on EU internal human rights matters.