The European Union and the Council of Europe on the Issue of Human Rights: Twins Separated at Birth? by McGill Law Journal

The European Union and the Council of Europe on the Issue of Human Rights: Twins Separated at Birth?

By McGill Law Journal

  • Publication Date: 2001-08-01
  • Genre: Law

Book Summary

Originally an economic union to further market integration, the European Union has gradually and paradoxically become a major force in human rights both within and outside Europe. The author surveys this development, from early inchoate principles in treaties up to the recent Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. He argues that the issue of human rights is closely linked to the still-controversial goal of European political integration, and its further development depends on the future direction of that integration. After the Second World War, different yet complementary approaches to European reconstruction emerged, exemplified by the Council of Europe on the one hand and the European Union on the other. The former's interstate approach augmented existing nation-states on the basis of shared ideals, while the latter's supranational approach used a common economic space to erode national boundaries. As the Union's vision of political integration was gradually realized it drew closer to the human rights principles championed by the Council. During the 1990s this latent convergence became visible, and human rights provided a core instrument for re-legitimating the economic project by increasing the Union's relevance in ordinary people's lives.

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