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The Human Face of the European Union: Are EU Law and Policy Humane Enough?

Nuno Ferreira

The EU has throughout its history benefited from variable levels of popular support and revealed different levels of capacity to deal with crises. A range of factors may account for these changes, but one thing is certain: the current circumstances, on account of financial pressures, social instability and present geographical and policy scope of the EU, require serious introspection and 'soul searching'. What can be done if the EU is not to perish and, hopefully, become more part of the solution than of the problem? May becoming more humane be the answer?'Humane' may be defined in different ways, including compassionate, kind, sympathetic, tolerant, benign and humanitarian. Non-Western cultures seem to have made a much more sophisticated use of this notion in broader contexts up to the present day. Chinese culture, through the Confucian notion of 'jen' (pronounced 'ren'), places enormous value on humaneness as a way of achieving balance, empathy and the moral standard. In the African context, the notion of 'ubuntu' has served as the gateway through which humaneness infiltrates all aspects of society, including law and policy, namely by focussing on participation, reconciliation, reciprocity, co-responsibility, interdependence, respect and equality. Does the EU perhaps need to become more humane? This paper will discuss this question by suggesting a possible EU-tailored framework to devise more human law and policy.

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