The outcome of the research realised in the FRAME Project

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Hachez, Nicolas
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The aim of this report is to draw integrated conclusions from the research conducted by the FRAME project from its launch on 1 May 2013 to this day. This report, rather than focusing on the countless individual findings of the more than 20 substantial reports produced during that period, has opted to focus on the cross-cutting issues which these reports have helped to identify in relation to the EU’s commitment to human rights, enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and many other policy pronouncements. These challenges are: implementation, coherence and effectiveness. Discussion of the three cross-cutting challenges is illustrated by examples taken from the entire spectrum of the FRAME research to date. The challenge of implementation refers to the difficulties which the EU has in turning its commitment into practice. The report argues that this challenge is caused by hesitations in the conceptualization of such commitment. Second, implementation at home would be stymied by resistance from EU Member States. Finally, implementation abroad would be rendered difficult by the EU’s position and leverage in international relations. The challenge of coherence refers to the degree to which the EU’s actions can generally be considered to be in keeping with its values-based commitment to human rights, and whether or not all actors and policies converge so as to reach that goal. The report evidences two dimensions of coherence: vertical, between the EU and its Member States; and horizontal, among EU institutions and bodies themselves. The report then identifies three types of consequences to incoherence: internal-internal, when one EU policy contradicts another one; internal-external, when the EU’s human rights record does not match the demands it places on third countries; and external-external, when the EU’s treatment of third countries is unequal. Finally, the report identifies several potential causes to incoherence: poorly aligned institutional structures; policy regimes which function under different logics; or competing interests. The challenge of effectiveness relates to the question whether the EU is delivering on its commitment, that is, whether it can be considered successful in the protection and promotion of human rights at home and abroad. The report first discusses the difficulties in ascertaining any conclusion in this regard, due to methodological issues associated to the measurement of human rights. The report then insists that the extent to which the EU will generate success will depend on its ability to preserve its credibility. Finally, the report argues that the EU should rely on non-state actors to increase its chances to effectively deliver on its commitment. The report finally concludes with an analysis of the interrelation of these three challenges, and finds that implementation and coherence share an intimate connection, and that progress regarding one of these challenges will also help overcoming the other. The report then finds that a healthy implementation- coherence relationship is a crucial factor for the effectiveness of the EU’s human rights commitment.