Human Rights in the European Union

Powerful Essays

The development of a human rights policy in the EU has been a long and often undocumented journey. The sectoral approach of the Paris Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951 had an economic and functional intention, lacking a declaration of fundamental rights, as seen in national constitutions. It was not until the 2000 Nice Summit that the European Union first established a written charter, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, explicitly stating and guaranteeing human rights in the European Union. Documented EU human rights policy before 2000 can be seen primarily in two ways:

1. Internally, through case-law from the European Court of Justice (ECJ)

2. Externally, through enlargement and trade/development policy

The Charter was an attempt to formally consolidate and solidify not only the EU’s internal and external human rights policies, but also material from a wide array of other human rights initiatives, such as common institutional traditions (from national constitutions), various awareness conventions, and international activist groups and NGOs.


The objective of this paper is to establish an effective analysis of the European Union’s human rights policy. After establishing the background of human rights policy within the EU, the application of Article 23 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights through internal case-law, trade policies, and enlargement is illustrated using historical case-studies. The application portion of this paper will examine a court case from the French national government, the EU’s trade policy with the Middle East, and the issues surrounding the accession of Turkey into the EU. After examining these three cases, ...

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...n Rights: Thematic Issues


- EU Turkey Communication Platform


- Dinan, Desmond. Ever Closer Union.

- Wallace, Helen and William Wallace, Policy-Making in the European Union.

- EU Enlargement: Second Wave -


- Pre-accession assistance for Turkey

- Alston, Phillip. “The EU and Human Rights” European University Institute,


[1] More specifically: Articles 2, 3(2), and 141(3) of the EC Treaty; Article 20 of the revised European Social Charter of May 3, 1996; and Article 2(4) of the Council Directive

[2] Article 141(4) EC
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