Despite recent constitutional arrangements, human rights remain an ambiguous and complex subject in the European Union. Human rights issues may have become increasingly relevant to the life of the EU over the past thirty years but there has been an institutional reluctance to mould a unified human rights policy worthy of the name. Nevertheless, the EU's practices have not been constructed randomly: they have evolved within discrete policy realms along coherent
narrative lines. From the arguably mythical basis that the EU was founded upon a general principle of respect for human rights; policies and practices have developed along two distinct paths. Internally, within the EU, human rights are contingent. Scrutiny is erratic and even casual, and enforcement is
left to the courts and independent agencies. Externally, in the EU's interactions with non-members, however, the story is very different: human rights are broad in concept. Collective notions of rights are accepted and promoted. Scrutiny can be intrusive and effective, and systems of enforcement, increasingly severe in scope and strength, have been applied.
This bifurcation has direct implications for the EU's constitutional structure and its future human rights activities. It suggests that, through human rights language, conditions for conflict rather than integration have arisen, and that a system of double standards has been instituted. Williams therefore argues that the EU's claims to a credible human rights policy are suspect.
This book examines the nature and scope of the bifurcation and explains its origins and development. In doing so it questions orthodox interpretations and provides a radical new reading of the EU's human rights law and practice. At its heart, the book claims that without a fundamental reappraisal of the basis upon which the EU responds to human rights, it will remain plagued by this ironical condition.
`Williams convincingly shows that some of these arguments are descriptions instead ofexplanations and that others are simply flawed... Williams indeed moves beyond a mere legal positivism... the book is an important - and very accessible - contribution to a discussion that should be given much wider attention, both in and outside academia.'
Antoine Buyse, Leiden. Common Market Law Review
`This book represents a powerful, engaging and critical account of EU human rights policies... an extremely well-written, persuasive and informative case for change, which would certainly be of interest to both academics and practitioners in the field of EU law, governance and human rights.'
Alessandra Buonfino, University of Cambridge
`Williams takes a fresh and thought-provoking look at this much scrutinised area. From the outset, theere can be no doubt as to Williams' deep commitment to the pursuit of human rights protection. He sets about his task with passion , developing a sophisticated these which probes the very foundations of the EU's human rights agenda... This is a stimulating book which should give practitioners and policy makers, as well as those engaged in study of European
institutions and policy-making, considerable pause for thought.'
Emily Reid, University of Sussex
General Editor's Preface
Table of EC Material
2: Development Policy and Human Rights
3: Accession to the Community and Human Rights
4: The Scope of Internal-External Incoherence
5: Explaining Incoherence: the Orthodox Arguments
6: The Invention of Human Rights in the Community
7: European Identity and Human Rights
8: Conclusion: The Irony of the Community's Human Rights Policies