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EUROPEAN POLICY CENTER
The European Policy Centre (EPC) is an independent, not-for-profit think tank dedicated to fostering European integration through analysis and debate, supporting and challenging European decision-makers at all levels to make informed decisions based on evidence and analysis.
The primary response to these killings will, beyond doubt, be security-based, with security issues climbing to the top of the EU’s agenda. However, security concerns should not overshadow the EU’s basic values. On the contrary, these values should act as a frame within which future actions should take place.
These values are embedded in Article 2 of the Treaty which states the following: “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights (…).” This implies that EU and Member States actions in the security field should remain within the strict boundaries of the rule of law and human rights. Hence, any national measures adopted to implement EU rules should respect human rights as protected by the Treaty, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Court of Justice, the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. EU and Member States actions will only be legitimate if they respect these rights and principle.
National hawkish reactions, fuelled by politicians speaking about “going to war” or politicians tempted to establish a “French Patriot Act”, as well as the plea to establish emergency laws, should not lead to overreactions and disproportionate measures which may infringe with human rights. National reactions may echo at EU level and it should be the role of EU institutions to safeguard common principles.
EU history is an example of a process which has overcome divisions and united human beings whatever their differences, their nationality and religion. States have been able to build an area of peace, based on human rights, precisely because the project improved cooperation between institutions, promoted unity instead of divisions and designed a common future. Replicating such a virtuous process with our closest neighbours should become a priority.
The countries of the EU are at a critical historical juncture. They could be driven by fear and react accordingly – with the risk of betraying our common values. Or they could believe in a common future with close neighbours and extend the area of peace and human rights.