EU human rights

The EU is founded on human rights. Just in time for Human Rights Day on the 10th of December, the EU has adopted a landmark human rights sanctions regime to target individuals involved in human rights abuses. This “European Magnitsky Act” is truly significant as it enables the EU to take decisive action against human rights abuses around the globe. In light of these events, let us examine the merits of the EU’s commitment to human rights a little closer.

Abroad, the EU underpins its commitment to human rights by extensively funding a variety of programmes aimed at promoting and protecting human rights. Closer to home, self-interest seems to be more critical. In November, the UN blamed the European Union’s refugee policy for the drowning of hundreds of asylum seekers. In addition to this inaction, the EU funds the Libyan coast guard, which captures migrants at sea and deports them back to Libya. Here, they face human trafficking and other abuses.

The EU lacks commitment to human rights in other areas as well. The EU’s hesitancy to condemn China’s mistreatment and internment of its Uyghur Muslim population is another example. Worsening relations with China can be problematic due to the sheer size of trade between the EU and China. Should the EU only pursue human rights when the economic stakes are low?

Civil society organisations routinely criticise the EU’s trade policy. For example, they argue that Europe’s upcoming trade agreement with Latin American countries may threaten the livelihood of indigenous Amazonian peoples. More trade with certain regions is directly linked to environmental degradation and human rights abuses. To prevent this downward spiral, the EU routinely includes special clauses aimed at protecting human rights, the environment and sustainable development in its foreign trade agreements. Whether these provisions show a real effect or amount to mere appeasement of the critics remains to be seen.

Does the European Union care about human rights? What do you think? Is the EU’s commitment to human rights worth more than the paper on which it is written? Can the EU uphold its reputation as global mediator and bastion of human rights or does realpolitik govern its actions? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) SerGrey

55 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ana Coelho

    I don’t think having people injailed for being independence activists in Spain shows EU commitment towards human rights protection

  2. avatar

    It certainly cares more than most other blocs… If the EU didn’t do business with countries with questionable Human Rights records, it would have few trading partners and I doubt the situation would improve very much elsewhere. By injecting human rights into trade policy in the form of tiered levels of access to the single market, I think it could foster better practice abroad.

  3. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Does the European Union care about human rights?

    You mean like the ‘human rights’ of Julian Assange, kept in prison without charge, in solitary confinement, for years now? And with full knowledge of the civilised world! And ‘why’ is this man being held this way?… For telling the truth about governments unlawful behaviour against human beings and abuse of their human rights.

    • avatar

      The UK is no longer part of the EU.

      Unless you think the EU should consider trying to pressure the UK not to extradite Assange to the US? Perhaps by linking the issue to the ongoing EU-UK trade negotiations?

  4. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Does the European Union care about human rights?

    Are women of the Western world considered in need of protection from imports into European society under ‘Human Rights’ law? Especially from those having no ‘right’ whatsoever to remain here, as a result of their collective medieval practices against our women and children? This has been going on over twenty years now. Additionally, their women seem to approve of these mens behaviour against our female Europeans. And appear to think it funny by the looks on their faces in these pictures.

    Human rights activists and UN enablers must demand these people be deported from our society at once… Our girls and women’s lives matter. Which clearly is not shared by many other cultures who seem to be encouraged to invade our way of life, regardless of their lack of concern for us as a people with ‘profound humanistic’ views on female rights from ‘birth’…… And those who feel they must condone this behaviour to protect the criminals in these cases, can be asked ‘why’ they feel that way, whilst continuing to reside in the Europe, when their sympathies lie in other parts of the globe better suited to beliefs they carry? What is it about our cultural practice and social norms they want to change or ignore? Can they please explain fully what they want to change us into? So we can defend it or not.

    • avatar
      catherine benning


      Your post is an odd response to the question ‘Does the European Union care about human rights?’ When we have nothing else pushed down our European throats other than an idea we must impoverish ourselves to save the ‘world’ and instil an idea of ‘human rights’ across it! Yes, I did forget Assange is white and from Australia, leaving him at a terrible disadvantage on the world stage. Had he been a threatening criminal or warrior murderer, of course, he would have crowds calling for him to be raised to sainthood, the way so many others have been.

      Which, considering most of EU countries, with a thriving economy, want to leave that club as an invasion of global attributes is penal to their well being and safety.

      And to put you straight, Europe is begging our politicians to go on subsidising this betrayal of the good citizens across that continent, to the point where they are ready to take the knee to see us continue to sell their goods to our citizens. The ones who don’t want your indoctrination with a suicide pact you are embracing with such relish.

  5. avatar

    Yes we should.. But we should not defend the rights of those who want to destroy us.. Stop being naive..

    • avatar
      Jan-Marten Spit

      We should not infringe on the rights of those what will therefore become our enemies – and complain about the consequences later as if there was no cause. That is not only naive.

  6. avatar

    The adoption is a very good step although it seemed long overdue. Wait and see “action speaks louder than word”.

  7. avatar

    No becuase look at Portugal how they are thriving on human slavery.

  8. avatar

    Nope: uighurs in China, civil society in Poland, Hungary or Turkey etc.

  9. avatar

    Don’t notice them pulling up france for police brutality over the last few years?

  10. avatar

    Human rights are as important as air and water. Without them you can’t have a normal life. But the EU has nothing to do with them.

  11. avatar
    Dio Nis

    Of course, and they shall demand more respect for being of the few that care, instead of being bullied about how ” bad” they are. They created the concept together with the USA and are still the only countries that truly care. Persecuted people worldwide don’t move to EU and USA for nothing.

  12. avatar

    Very selectively unfortunately, only when it serves the political agenda. And every one can feel it from media sh#tstorm (Frau Merkel used word to describe unbearable media stream).

  13. avatar

    It Depends. Thats why people don’t trust EU

  14. avatar

    Yes EU cares about human rights … but only in cases like Belarus where politics meet … in cases like police brutality in Greece for example .. EU does not intefere in the policies of the country .. so it’s human rights pro but in circumstances

  15. avatar

    The eu only cares about furthering control over its members and forcing their social engineering down citizens throats. Totally directed at Hungary and Poland. Just look at some of the countries its thinking of admitting and then ask if thyy care about human rights

    • avatar

      Chris, well, don’t agree with you at all.

    • avatar

      Georgius, joys of democracy, you are entitled to your view

  16. avatar

    Until these countries fix their human rights and find better environmental solutions, the EU could slap a violation tariff on their products until they sort it out. Call the tariff something nicer so they don’t get upset, but they will get the message.

  17. avatar

    Human rights? As long as you are not in the womb.

  18. avatar

    EU does not founded on human rights but on collective security, which is to avoid the two devastating world wars.

    • avatar
      Aimilia mpampi

      I think that the European Union really cares about human rights, that consists one of the main reasons of its existence

  19. avatar

    The European Union is concerned with human rights, yes, but the problem is that it is more concerned with the rights of non-Europeans than with its own citizens.

    • avatar

      José Lambrux Gonçalves Imagine being this wrong.

    • avatar

      EU hates India because of human rights violations

  20. avatar

    Thus happens When economics interest are more important..

  21. avatar

    Yes, they are right. But the EU has proved by their actions that trade is more import than human freedom rights, human health and well being, EU-wide basic worker equality and now human rights abuses. Trade=No1 and only.

  22. avatar

    If humanity can afford to close down small businesses worldwide for a year and counting, surely we can afford to boycott Chinese government corporations and their bribe money?

  23. avatar

    Of course they are right. How is this even a question? Also, I am confused by the painting you chose to accompany it.

  24. avatar

    I am sure it is a bad trade. China is rulling and they are a Dictatorship. The world is in a bad shape

  25. avatar

    The question is why are we even dealing with China? Not only do they provide hazardous products, slave workers, diseases and hinders our own employment and opportunities. We should increase tariffs so high that nothing comes out of china.

  26. avatar

    It’s the same E.U.-Tactics also towards …Turkey ! Turkey is a Hunta under Islamofascist Dictator Erdogan’s Regime that has “for thousand times” violated Human Rights of Turks Citizens and other Europeans, with plenty of decisions of ECHR against her, but … noone ever thought about put sanctions against, and everybody look to do Business with Turkey and military ones (even if the weapons that are giving to Turkey, Germans, Spain, ec.c. they are going to kill in the future Greeks, Cypriots or other EU citizens)… “Nice Union” …!

  27. avatar

    I hate this f deal. Can we make a deal with India, instead?

  28. avatar

    The EU and European governments (executive and legislative powers) don’t care about human rights. Not even within their borders.This is not democracy and leads us all, the whole world, little by little, to madness and the worst catastrophe ever.As simple human beings we have an URGENT NEED to fight for real democracy, to get back to our senses and gain some control over the evolution of things. It is an existential matter.We need actual citizens in real democracies. And we need to free ourselves of the mass media, PR, advertising and entertainment industries grip of public opinion and even culture. What we currently have is mostly deranged and dysfunctional societies run by plutocrats (i.e. their puppets) and autocrats.We need to better regulate mass media in the first place, reverse evergrowing inequity, introduce democratic reforms (a democratic revolution, whether little by little or radically), and finally, ban advertising.Advertising is such a huge and crucial problem that it is not even underrated. It has not yet been identified as a problem. Therefore, it is never talked about. It seems to be an invisible problem first, but secondly a taboo as well, when one tries to raise this issue. People have been so accustomed to this pervasive poison, which almost runs in our blood, so brain-washed about it, that it’s come to sound unthinkable to question advertising and ask for its banning. People have no idea what it was like to live basically free from advertising until the 1900s. And people don’t realize to what extent it has not only invaded and poisoned society without need, but also done so thanks to the monstrous economic dimension and capacity to influence everything we allowed it to gain (starting with what businesses own the “free market” of mass media, and therefore, public opinion and political power).We need to fight and win democracy NOW, or lose everything over the next few decades (starting with mock democracies and mock rule of law). If we don’t, we’ll soon be committed to global collapse. Not just global society but the whole biosphere.

  29. avatar

    EU just uses imaginary “human rights” to promote Islamization in other nations, and justify excuses for economic sanctions, which protect USAn corporations.If EU cared about “human rights” it will have sanctioned USA, but it doesn’t. Why is that?

  30. avatar
    Margarita Tzoka

    The European Union cares enough about human rights but I’m convinced it could pay more attention to them in order to maintain peace and a feeling of compassion and security among Europeans.

  31. avatar

    I believe that the European Union cares about human rights and tries to advocate for them in various ways and actions.

  32. avatar
    Chris Tir

    I believe that they care, but they can definitely do so much more than the current status. For example, muslims in some countries that belong to the European Union are being discriminated. In France a while ago they banned the right for Muslims to wear hijabs. So in conclusion, i believe that they should take more action to keep everything in order and be at peace.

  33. avatar
    Stergios Stamatiou

    Στεργιος Σταματιου: I think that the European Union cares about human rights and tries to do the best. Mostly, i believe that the European Union can do more variety things.

  34. avatar
    konstantinos fragkos

    I think that the most important political issue is the poverty and unemployment that exists in many european countries

  35. avatar
    pappas marios

    I believe that the European Union cares about human rights and helps us when there is a problem.

  36. avatar

    As far as I am concerned, I believe that the European Union makes great efforts to protect human rights, but a lot more can be done.

  37. avatar
    evaggelia sereti

    I think that the european union cares about human rights and tries the best to persuade us that it is.But some of us do not care and we blame the european union with no reason

  38. avatar
    Despina Sarli

    As far as I am concerned, I believe that the European Union makes great efforts to protect human rights, but a lot more can be done.

  39. avatar

    I think the most important politicial issue for me is that we have economic problems in our country and also we have problems with our neighboring country Turkey.

  40. avatar

    I think the European Union care about human rights

  41. avatar
    George Economou

    The European Union is based on a strong commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide. Human rights are at the heart of EU relations with other countries and regions.

  42. avatar

    Human rights in Europe is kidnapping all politicians. Human rights are overwhelmingly dominating EU politics. We ought to aware of human rights are being fabricated and manipulated for election and political purposes to attack human rights of others.

  43. avatar

    I have complained about serious human rights violations in a member country and there is never any reply from the EU Commissions’ reporting system.

    I think all those emails end up in the spam folder.

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