PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATISATION
IN THIRD COUNTRIES
Commission Communication on the European Union's role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries.
||8 May 2001|
|Forwarded to the Council:
||11 May 2001|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||20 June 2001|
||Foreign and Commonwealth Office
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 21 June and EM of 25 June 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
|Adopted by Council:
||25 June 2001 General Affairs Council
The Commission Communication
49.1 The Communication sets a new framework for
Community activities in support of human rights and democratisation.
In the context of wider reform of EU development policy and the
management of external assistance, the Communication focusses
on ensuring that human rights and democratisation are reflected
in all Community policies, programmes and projects. It selects
three priority areas where it can act effectively:
- promoting coherent and consistent policies in
support of human rights and democratisation, in particular between
Community action and the Common Foreign and Security Policy, as
well as in development policy;
- placing a higher priority on human rights and
democratisation in the EU's relations with third countries, making
full use of opportunities offered by political dialogue, trade
and external assistance; and
- adopting a more strategic approach to the European
Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights.
49.2 Approximately 100 million euros is available
annually from the Community budget for what has been known since
1994 as the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights
The Government's view
49.3 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 25 June,
the Minister for Europe (Peter Hain) says:
"The Government welcomes
this long-awaited Communication as a valuable contribution towards
a more strategic and consistent EU policy on human rights and
democratisation. The Government endorses the Commission's objective
of increasing coherence between Community actions and wider EU
policy, notably the Common Foreign and Security Policy. This will
serve to increase the focus and impact of EU interventions."
49.4 In a letter of 21 June, the Minister comments
at greater length on the Communication:
"Respect for human rights
and a commitment to democracy are among the European Union's fundamental
objectives. These principles inform all decisions taken within
the European Union. Equally, they are an essential part of the
EU's external relations. As Member States, we support human rights
and democracy for other people because these are the values we
demand for ourselves.
"The EU has the political and moral weight to
make a real difference in promoting human rights and democracy.
The Treaty of Amsterdam made respect for these principles a precondition
for any state seeking to apply for EU membership. Since 1992,
the EU has included in all agreements with third countries a clause
defining respect for human rights and democracy as 'essential
elements' in the EU's relationship. This was developed by the
Cotonou Agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries
in June 2000 which is based on respect for human rights, democratic
principles, the rule of law and good governance.
"Commission plans to enhance the delivery and
impact of its actions in these areas are therefore welcome. In
particular, we support the reforms in the Commission's management
of external assistance, including human rights and democratisation,
introduced by Chris Patten. I am pleased that officials from this
Department and the Department for International Development have
been sharing UK experience with Patten's team. With an annual
budget of approximately 100 million euro for human rights and
democratisation work, the EU has the potential to make a significant
and lasting impact.
"The Commission's commitment to greater openness
in its policy formation on human rights is also encouraging. That
policy can only be enriched by, for example, the expertise of
the European Parliament and non-governmental organisations. The
Commission also plays an important part in preparing the EU Annual
Human Rights Report and the regular EU NGO Fora both UK
"We expect the Council Conclusions welcoming
the Communication to be adopted by the General Affairs Council
on 25 June."
The Council Conclusions
49.5 According to the Press Release, the Council
adopted, without a debate, Conclusions on Human Rights and
Democratisation in Third Countries, together with a number
of annexed papers.
49.6 We welcome the efforts of Commissioner
Patten to reform the Commission's management of external assistance
and the Government's contribution in terms of sharing of experience.
There is much to do world-wide on observance of the principles
of human rights and democratisation. The EU's efforts are to be
welcomed, particularly when addressing these issues in constructive
ways, such as promotion of good governance and the capacity of
civil society to demand change.
49.7 We now clear the document.
77 Council Regulations (EC) Nos. 975 and 976/99 of 29
April, OJ No. L 120 of 8 May 1999. Back
Affairs Council, 25 June 2001, page 10 of website version. Back