Practice What You Preach: How Human Rights Policies in EU Member States Affect the Legitimacy of the EU As a Foreign Policy Actor

Thursday, July 13, 2017
JWS - Room J7 (J361) (University of Glasgow)
Sara Kahn-Nisser , sociology Political science and Communication, The Open University of Israel
The proposed paper argues that assuring a high level of human rights protection in EU member countries is crucial to the EU's ability to exert influence in the European neighborhood. The argument is based on an empirical analysis of human rights protection levels in the EU and in 29 countries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe from 1998 to 2011, using a spatial econometric approach. The analysis shows that when human rights policies in the EU improve the impact of the ENP's financial assistance is strengthened and ENP countries emulate EU member countries' human rights policies. The EU's influence on ENP participants' human rights policies withers when the mean human rights protection score in the EU deteriorates. The degree to which EU countries demonstrate a clear actual commitment to the policies which they promote through the EU in their neighboring countries, has tangible quantifiable implications on the EU's ability to translate potential power into actual power. These results suggest that ENP participants evaluate EU's members countries' compliance with the norms the EU promotes in its external policies, and the legitimacy of the demands and conditions attached to the EU's financial assistance. Weak intra-EU compliance with these demands weakens the legitimacy of the EU's human rights promotion and slows down the rate of human rights reforms. The paper derives theoretical implication regarding the link between internal policies and external influence and policy implication particularly regarding the impact of the migration crisis on the EU's influence in the neighborhood.