The EU is built on values. Values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality between men and women, respect for the rule of law and for human rights form the foundation of the EU. They are set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and are shared by all EU member states. But do the EU and its member states always adhere to European values?

We’ve been looking at ideas from the Conference on the Future of Europe, where citizens from all over Europe propose and discuss their ideas for the future of Europe. In the last few weeks, we’ve debated whether an independent Scotland should rejoin the EU and whether there should be only one EU President. Today, we’re asking whether the EU lives up to its values and, if not, what should change?

Today’s idea comes from Till, who is convinced the EU doesn’t always act in accordance with its values, especially when it comes to dealing with refugees or migrants at its external borders. That is why he is calling for a fundamental reform of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Till writes on the Conference on the Future of Europe platform:

“The human rights violations being committed in the name of the EU at its external borders by Frontex are inconceivable. A fundamental reform must be implemented as quickly as possible, and legal protection channels must be improved. Central European states must stand in solidarity with those at the external border. A European response to the challenge of migration and asylum must be found without betraying our values. If this does not succeed, the EU threatens to disintegrate because member states behave in a selfish manner, and the foundation on which the EU is built – the law – crumbles.”

What do our readers think? Reader Marion sees a contradiction between the values the EU professes and the Union’s actual behaviour, especially in the refugee crisis. She says: “Some talk about having to defend our values. But where are those values when it comes to our fellow human beings at the EU’s external borders?”

We have put Marion’s comment to Despina Spanou, Head of Cabinet for Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas, who has the portfolio “Promoting our European way of life”, which aims to “Protect our citizens and our values”. How would she respond to Marion’s comment?

I understand what she means when she says she is ashamed. It is true that we can no longer accept not having a European Union asylum and migration policy. We have failed. With the proposal we have made on the new migration pact, we hope that we will finally get there. And I think all the parameters are there. We need a European approach, we can no longer have some member states that are more generous than others, some that are more prepared than others, some that are more negative than others. We need a European approach. We need a proportionate approach to asylum seekers versus those who are not accepted.

We also need to protect our borders, we also need a very balanced approach to everything. But I think it is indeed very important that we agree on a uniform asylum procedure in Europe. At the same time, with the new migration pact, we have also tried to do something for the rest of the world by addressing the sources from which these migration flows come. So we have stepped up our work on the external aspects of migration, working with the countries where the migrants come from to try to promote peace and opportunity in those countries. But also to make sure that we have a balanced flow of migration from those parts of the world where it is necessary that they lead to people who are eligible to apply for asylum in Europe versus those who need to be sent back or resettled. So that is a very, very important aspect of our current work on migration – to address the source of the problem, also to help people while they are still over there in their countries looking for a better future.

We have also forwarded Marion’s comment to Laura Sullivan, Executive Director of We Move Europe, a citizens’ movement aiming to strengthen the capacity of citizens to change Europe for the benefit of society, future generations and the planet. How would she answer Marion?

I would say: Marion, do you want a job? Because that’s exactly how we feel at We Move Europe. Since 2013, we have been like the proverbial “slow-boiled frogs” in Europe. What do I mean by that? We have been slow cooked in the sense of a narrative that started around 2013 when the far right in Europe compared people on the move to criminals, to bad people who either wanted to steal our jobs or were very lazy (they couldn’t decide which). And since then, unfortunately, our EU leaders have not adopted such directly toxic language, but have almost turned the language and narrative into something extremely robotic.

Let me give you an example. If you read any of the texts around migration, you will see the words “flows” or “illegals” much more often than “people” or “folk”. We reduce people to facts and figures and “flows” and “illegals” rather than people who have rights. Basically, I would say that as a pro-European and as a director of We Move Europe, I am concerned and ashamed of the path the European Union is on. It can be made good, but we need to start making amends pretty quickly.

Does the EU live up to its values? Is the EU acting against its values at its external borders? Should Frontex be reformed? 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) Anjo Kan

63 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Yes, she should be granted political asylum.

  2. avatar

    Can “Europe” grant asylum? I suspect the Poles will.

  3. avatar

    This goes without saying. But there are a lot of people living under the helm of ‘gangsters’ in many other countries too. I would say that an Olympic sportsperson speaking out is a high profile, public person risking her own safety to speak out, therefore it is fully justified.

  4. avatar

    Asylum in Europe, yeah, we managed to avoid, ignore Snowden or Assange and now we suddenly remember that we have European values for a no-name athlete from Belarus who represent, I’m sure a hot political topic in her home country.

  5. avatar

    If they can divert our planes, for sure that we can divert their willing to escape athletes.

  6. avatar

    Of course instead of welcoming killing Afghani and Algerian islamists.. We should welcome her arms wide opened. She is European. And Europeans first….

  7. avatar

    How European values are in place when specific states deal with Turkey and Russia?

  8. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does the EU live up to its values?

    Here are a few telling links on how the EU and ‘World Global Leaders’ feel you will accept their values. And vote for them to bring them to your local community.

  9. avatar

    EVS data are used as empirical source for a large number of publications in academic journals and books in several fields of research. Alongside the development of up-to-date publications on the study of values in European societies, The European Values Study disseminates its results through many international and national activties, such as conferences, seminars, and workshops. Furthemore, different tools have been proposed for educational purposes. The European Values Study (EVS) is a large-scale, cross-national, repeated cross-sectional survey research programme on basic human values. It provides insights into the ideas, beliefs, preferences, attitudes, values and opinions of citizens all over Europe.

  10. avatar
    Kahraman Marangoz

    It is for the EU-citizens to go the full road of freedom and human rights, no half way.

  11. avatar

    During my first and second experiences in Mun, I really enjoyed getting to know different countries and points of view. MUN experience taught me many things among which self-confidence, research, public speaking, and adapting your ideas to changing information when you do not have a lot of time. My first MUN was an amazing and enriching experience. I hope I will be able to experience it again in debating Europe.

  12. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    Universal values? EU values? Whos values?

    Why not start with the History of Human Rights:

    Next- the UDHR @ 70 & its perspective: The only problem- these rights are considered optional. Global peace remains an illusion!

    Now, a study by some European experts & academics:
    This (EVS) European Values Study- “16 subscribers” – in 420mio.

    Significantly, the Islamic states (OIC) have their separate Human Rights= Subordination to Allah :
    A recipe for future conflicts in the EU?

    So- how best to protect the EU/ECC national citizens from disastrous political misdirections & misconceptions? It should/is strictly limited to the EU’s jurisdictions (27)- nothing more!

    Surely, the EU can’t speak on behalf of Europe47 or the values of the Islamic countries or globally. Can they?

    It is a habit of European politicians- past & present- to overestimate their capacities and parade their values, their rule law & their economic might- but underestimate reality & ignorance. An aggressive & misdirected EU pursuit can also bring a whole society teetering to the edge.

    Europe’s history is not short of examples of delusions of grandeur and politicians suffering from megalomania- sorry to say.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      EU Reform Proactive

      The only way to get near to being a genuine democracy is to lobby relentlessly for ‘Direct Democracy Swiss style.’ This would stop these officials forcing laws and concepts that go against the interests of the EU civilian population and make it impossible to regulate against their wishes.

  13. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does the EU live up to its values?

    How many Afghans is the EU now preparing to envelope? Once again, thousands of anti EU values brought into Europe to diminish their EU funder tax payer cultural values and educational expectations. Down and down the spiral droops until now it’s the Taliban, right here in our midst, ready to ride on our dodgem cars in victory. The joy and celebration breathtaking.

    No room for those of European heritage to enjoy homes of their own, they owe the world a place to stay before their young can live to breed.

  14. avatar

    Fueron a quitar el terrorismo y después de 20 años han desvastado el país manipulando el tráfico de opio y otros productos mineros y dejando al los talibanes siendo la mayor y moderna y entrenada islámica que apoya al terrorismo, los s refugiados que se lo a queden los de sur de Europa especialmente España

  15. avatar

    Dat ze hun problemen miserie zélf oplossen..! Ze zijn toch altijd beter.,. dus Simpel..!

  16. avatar

    Comme ci vous aller prendre en compte ce que les gens veulent ou ne veulent pas arreter de vous ridiculiser

  17. avatar

    The EU wants to play hotel for all of Africa and the Middle-East. That means importing poverty, theocracy and intolerance to minority groups. This can only go wrong in the end.

    • avatar

      Nosnens. You expose a poverty of mind wich is not imported.

    • avatar

      Peter Bogaerdt Your far leftist reaction as well!It’s time to accept they are other opinions than your communists ones!

    • avatar

      Peter Bogaerdt Look at ANY European city which has allowed unregulated immigration through their borders…Paris, London, Rome, and ….. Stockholm…. good God Stockholm. Those poor Swedes had no idea what was about to hit them. Prior to the opening of their borders, it was one of the safest cities in the world.Poverty, crime, gangs, violence, murders, rapes…… have all skyrocketed, and turned those cities (and many more) into festering shitholes.When you allow immigrants into your country that actually have some marketable skill, and can provide a meaningful contribution to your society??? You get a country of diversity that thrives.When you allow “anyone” in??? You get a country full of people that only exist to exploit the resources they never had in the 3rd world hell-holes they came from.That’s not “poverty of mind”….. that’s actual, statistically proven, facts: Something the far left ideology ignores far too often.

    • avatar

      Mirela Kristo time for you to learn the difference between left and right.

    • avatar

      Matthew Loomis you’re so hard reproducing xenophobe messages, you actually believe them yourselve?

    • avatar

      Peter Bogaerdt I was raised in a far left regime .I do appreciate and make difference!It was a life school who is more important than any theoretical lesson

    • avatar

      Peter Bogaerdt Except your propaganda part do you believe yourself?

    • avatar

      Mirela yeah yeah, sure.

    • avatar

      Peter Bogaerdt Too bad !You are laying yourself

  18. avatar

    i want their money but i suppose they`re not willing to discuss this. Just saying, they discuss only as they seem fit.

  19. avatar

    GOD BLESS everyone in this world

  20. avatar


  21. avatar

    What about China’s refugees policy? The nr 1 power in the world ..

  22. avatar

    One foreign policy, one army, one embassy would be a good start.

  23. avatar
    Abdul wafi Omari

    Hallo ‘ my name is Abdul wafi omari I was work with UNICEF and the Afghanistan’ now my life is difficult here’ please do something for me life’ and also my children scared with taliban’ please take care my family please’

  24. avatar

    “What would you like to see it do differently?”Everything

  25. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does the EU live up to its values?

    Do those values mean colluding with other countries to torture children to give them vaccines neither their parent or they want? Why are you covering the enormous proven stories on the amount of side effects, illness and death taking place as a direct result of these horrendous impositions on the freedom to choose ‘not’ to have some dreaded horror chemical put into our bodies and the bodies of out children, which you all know is taking an enormous chance with lives? And the fact that it is not working to protect the way it is pretended it is? What is really going on?

    How much compensation are people going to receive when the reality cannot longer be hidden?

  26. avatar

    Can poor people enjoy all these luxurious values on human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality? Without social stability and economic prosperity, people do not have the opportunity to work and earn a living, all promises of normative values are just lip service/blank checks for election purpose.

  27. avatar

    Unfortunately, our dirty politicians have given up on the values long ago.

  28. avatar

    NO. Not at all. But at least a bunch of written-off politicians have a well paid job.

  29. avatar

    I think Europe gave up about few values with uncontrolled migration: safety, cultural identity… National unity and integrity..

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