September 2000

EU as guardian of European values

Why has the European Union suddenly started to talk about European values? After all, they have always formed the basis for political actions of member states. According to Dr. Teija Tiilikainen from the University of Helsinki, the new way of emphasising these values is a sign of the EU becoming a more state-like organisation.

Writing in the news weekly Suomen Kuvalehti (1 September 2000), Tiilikainen says that  the EU defines its aims in a much broader way than ten years ago.

“Slowly the EU changes from the guarantor of peace among European states into the very home of Europeanness. One cannot see any more the European Union as an instrument in the hands of its member states. Instead, it gradually moves on to create its own reasons for existence. It is exactly here that EU’s character as a community of values is central.”

According to Tiilikainen, these values are vague in content. One speaks of human rights, citizens’ political rights and liberties, democratic governance and a state based on the rule of law. In spite of this vagueness, there is a will to codify them in a future constitution. The EU is thus seeking its place in the world as a sovereign political community. On the level of political structures, a constitution is the key to this independence.

“Its own constitution allows the EU to define and regulate central political details – political aims and institutions and the relationship between the Union and its citizens. An independent constitution in a juridical sense is thus the highest channel to make Europeanness into a reality. It helps the EU to liberate itself from the grip of its member states.”

Tiilikainen points out that already the EU is acting in the international arena with very state-like manner. It can be seen to fullfil many conditions of political sovereignty in the world of states. It has its own foreign policy to defend its interests and terrirorial security. The EU is even on the way to making international agreements and recognising states.

As in so many other communities of values, there are internal conflicts, Tiilikainen writes.

“If one begins to specify the values that today define Europeanness, the nature of the community can prove to be quite thin. But this has always been the case with political ideologies. In this context as well, the question is whether or not we want to believe the dream of European unity.”

See also:

"EU hard core membership important for security"

31 May 2000

Non-aligned countries face European security turmoil

12 May 2000

"Small EU states have a definite interest in deepening integration"

17 March 2000

Citizens' rights emphasised as part of EU reform

26 October 1999

Changing EU voting rules would be undemocratic by Hannu Reime

October 1999

Power of big EU countries raises questions

October 1999

Non-aligned countries face problems with EU defence

13 July 1999

Europe searches for unity with multiple identities by John Palmer

May 1999

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