EU and promotion of human rights
in the member states: Do we need
an internal control mechanism?
The case of Greece.
PhD candidate Panteion University
4th Hellenic Observatory PhD Symposium, LSE, June 2009
The framework of the paper- PhD thesis.
Candidate states EU policies Member states
I. Europeanisation of human rights
I.1The role of supranational institutions, i.e. the
Shaping article 6 TEU through the accession
criteria (art 6↔art. 49) combined with lack of:
-A human rights catalogue in EU treaties
-A common European practice by member states
- Case law of ECJ
I.2The role of supranational institutions, i.e.
- Rights of people with disabilities,
- Introduction of the notion of mainstreaming,
- Wide scope of combating discrimination,
- Procedural safeguards for suspects and
defendants in criminal proceedings.
II. Impact on member states. The case of
Human rights problems in Greece in 1997-2000:
Discrimination and violence both against women and
racial, excessive use of police violence, detention
duration and conditions, people with disabilities, asylum
system, freedom of religion, minority rights, etc.
Community policies linked to accession criteria
Gender equality, racial discrimination
and rights of disabled persons
II.1 Gender equality
Greek problems: employment,
representation in decision making and
II.1.a. Gender equality and employment
Legally binding:Directives 2000/78, 2002/73 on equal
treatment in employment, 2004/113 on equal treatment
in the access to goods and services, and directive
2006/54 recasting seven equal treatment directives
Impact on Greece: Incorporation of all legally binding
texts although with great delays. However
implementation is problematic (Greek Ombudsman
started to examine equality issues a year ago).
II.1.b. Balanced representation in decision-making
EU initiatives: Soft law mainly: Commission Roadmap for
equality between men and women (2006-2010), initiative for the
creation of an EU Network for women in decision making
(launched on 2008).
Greek response: measures for national elections only in 2008.
L. 3636/2008 regarding the percentage of candidates in national
elections, L. 3528/2007 regarding the percentage of women in
decision making councils of public services, L 2910/2001
regarding municipal and regional elections and 3463/2006
regarding municipal and communal elections.
II.1.c.Violence against women
EU initiatives: Programs. Communication of the
Commission in 1998 (0335 final) combating violence
against vulnerable groups including women, DAPHNE
programs, launched in 2000 and ended in 2008. Legally
binding texts refer only to trafficking.
Greek response: First law on domestic violence in the
end of 2006 (L. 3500/06).
II.2 Racial discrimination
A decade ago, poor situation, faced with
multi-discrimination, at disadvantage in
many areas such as access to health care,
housing, employment or schooling.
Today, situation remains more or less the
EU initiatives: legally binding: anti-discrimination
directive (2000/43/EC). Soft law: Council decision in
2000 for an action program to combat discrimination, the
European Council in Nice (2000)requested the member
states to submit action plans for social inclusion.
Greek response: L. 3304/2005, complied with the
Social inclusion Action Plan requirements, while also
adopting a six- year specific plan for the integration of
II.3 People with disabilities
In 1997, there was poor implementation of the
construction code foreseeing physical access for
disabled to private and public buildings. Similarly, the
obligation for hiring disabled persons in public and
private enterprises of more than 50 people was poorly
Today: same problems but on the positive side,
government has been taking measures since 2006.
II.3 People with disabilities
EU initiatives: legally binding: Equality Directives of
2000 (43/2000 and 78/2000), Decision in 2001 on the
European Year of People with Disabilities (2001/903/EC
and Council Regulation of 2006 on the rights of air
travelers (1107/2006). Soft law: EU Disability Action Plan
(DAP) 2003-2010, mainstreaming disability
Greek response: Actions towards raising awareness
against discrimination were intensified since 2006.
National Strategy Report on Social Protection and Social
Inclusion 2008-2010, L. 3709/2008 and L. 3699/2008 on
access to sea transportation and education respectively.
Remarks deriving from the Greek example
on the EU impact.
The success of a Community human rights policy is
strict monitoring, specific goals and programs
enhanced political pressure which derives from the
coordinated action in European level.
In Greece the response was better regarding the
implementation of specific programs, where the
monitoring is linked to funding and involves a variety of
governmental and non governmental actors.
Concluding remarks and food for thought
The europeanisation of human rights will
continue covering an ever growing field of
activities/ HR cornerstone of political unification.
Suggestions for improving the impact:
- Specific goals and funding, accompanied by
strict monitoring process.
- Involvement of the FRA
- Enhanced collaboration between the EU and the
Council of Europe