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Thematic evaluation of the European Commission support to respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms

This evaluation has been commissioned by the Evaluation Unit in DEVCO on behalf of the European Commission. It assesses the EC support to human rights and respect of fundamental freedoms by taking into account all rights (political, social and economic), regions and instruments over the period of 2000-2010.

The evaluation seeks to provide an independent assessment of the Commission’s human rights work in non-member countries and aims at identifying key lessons and recommendations with a view to improving current and future Commission strategies and programmes. It concerns both the funds contracted by the European Commission over the period covered and the so-called ‘nonfinancial activities”, notably the political and policy dialogues that are central to the EU approach to human right promotion in third countries (as stated in the Council Conclusions of the 25 June 2001).

This study assessed in detail how the EC advanced the human rights agenda in different political and institutional environments. It examined to what extent and how the EC managed to: (i) use its political clout to leverage change; (ii) strategically combine various instruments; (iii) mobilise the various actors (states, civil society, regional organisations, UN); (iv) pro-actively promote the mainstreaming of human rights; (v) foster the application of the 3Cs’ in the field of human rights and (vi) achieve results and impact. In the process, it took stock of the dilemmas encountered, the innovative practices employed and the lessons learnt.

During the evaluation, the overall EU institutional set-up changed drastically. The study started with a focus on the structures at Commission level (“EC only”) under the prevailing framework before the Lisbon Treaty. Yet the study was concluded in the post-Lisbon set up and the related creation of the External European Action Service (EEAS). Under this new framework part of the political and geographic mandate of the EC are transferred to the EEAS. The recommendations coming out of the evaluation should be read in that light.


Federica Petrucci Jean Bossuyt De Feyter Koen Pilar Domingo Sara Monti