The European Union (EU) was set up to maintain peace and democracy, and improve cooperation between European countries. It is a unique economic and political union gathering 28 countries (27 in 2019 after the Brexit). Together they shape and adopt common legislation and policies, including to “promote human rights both internally and around the world.”
Originally conceived as an economic and trade entity, the EU has become a stronger political actor over the years. The adoption in 1993 of the “Common Foreign and Security Policy” illustrates this trend. Yet, foreign policy is still very much dominated by Member State governments and their agendas. When it comes to advocacy on foreign policy and human rights, Member States should be among your priority targets.
At EU level, the following bodies can make a difference if they are receptive to your recommendations:
- The European Council and the Council of the European Union, both representing the interests of the Member States;
- The European Commission representing the interest of the Union as a whole;
- The European External Action Service (EEAS) as the EU diplomatic body; and finally,
- The European Parliament, representing the EU citizens.
Let’s dig into their respective profiles…