European Union human rights regime
From Eastern enlargement to the Lisbon Treaty and beyond
in Children’s rights, Eastern enlargement and the EU human rights regime
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This chapter charts the key developments in areas – such as the Roma, mental health, disability and international adoption – whose profile has been augmented due to Eastern enlargement and post-accession events. The chapter then proceeds by mapping the role of human rights in the current enlargement process. The legal and constitutional changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, along with the binding nature of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, have further enhanced the EU’s internal and external human rights commitments. The EU accession acquis criteria focusing on human rights issues has become more entrenched and formalised, as the accession monitoring process of current candidate countries demonstrates. Despite this, the ‘lack of competence’ mantra is still employed by the EU to justify its limited reach in most human rights matters inside the Union. However, more and more violations of human rights at the national level require cross-border cooperation and policy coordination, and in this respect, the EU is particularly well-placed to promote cross-national cooperation in Europe. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Member States realised the added value of EU-driven actions and policy initiatives in addressing human rights violations.

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