Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Consultations on human rights with third countries

Delivered in Plenary - 5th September 2007

Madam President

The Valenciano Martínez-Orozco report on promoting human rights and democracy remains a fundamental cornerstone of the EU and the common values that unite the 27 Member States. It is also a key component externally in our strategic alliances beyond, in the wider 47-member-state Council of Europe, in our transatlantic partnership in NATO and with like-minded countries within the UN.

Inevitably, as the Union has progressed with more and more formal trade and political cooperation agreements, we have sought to impose a degree of fundamental human rights conditionality on our global partners – albeit it ad hoc and inconsistent at best – aided by a specific instrument, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, and supported by human rights dialogues and consultations when required.

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), for which I am co-rapporteur for Parliament, aims at establishing a ring of neighbouring friends committed to a common area of peace, stability, security, full respect for human rights and democracy, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and prosperity. ENP action plans build on the existing, legally binding under the Treaty, contractual frameworks – association agreements in the case of Euromed partners or partnership and cooperation agreements with former Soviet states – which typically include human rights and democracy clauses that are monitored so that, the closer the ENP partner country comes in terms of shared values, the greater the aid and trade cooperation granted by the EU. These action plans are monitored by subcommittees as part of an ongoing dialogue.

Theoretically, at least, geopolitical considerations should play no part, but in fact realpolitik usually prevails in practice. Who, for instance, would dare threaten the same degree of sanctions against the People’s Republic of China, as mentioned by my colleague Mr Belder, over its serious lack of human rights and democracy as we did against Uzbekistan? That is my case.