New Paper Warns Against EU “Moral Regulation” of Abortion and Family Policies

In a recently released research paper on the European Union (EU) social agenda, scholar Maciej Golubiewski argues that the EU has overstepped its mandate by pursing a regime of “moral regulation” by funding controversial social policy initiatives on the family and the beginning and end-of-life issues. The European Institutions are doing this despite the frequent objections of individual EU member states.

In “Europe’s Social Agenda: Why is the European Union Regulating Morality?,” Golubiewski uses the term “moral regulation” to encompass all EU social and human rights policies and initiatives that intrude or potentially intrude on democratic national jurisdiction over moral matters. 

He argues that the “moral regulation” agenda in the EU is the result of a confluence of several social, political, and legal trends over the last three decades, including an ascendant influence of powerful non-governmental organizations (NGOs), increasing numbers of EU bureaucracies concerning themselves with moral and social issues, and the diversification of legal and bureaucratic venues for promoting social schemes under the label “human rights,” among other trends.

The paper catalogues controversial programs and policies that are sponsored by the EU such as: competitions and publicity campaigns aimed at “influencing national norms surrounding the notions of family, appropriate sexual behavior, and even church-state relations,” bureaucratic promotion of reproductive rights encompassing abortion, criticism of pro-life views, anti-religious educational programs aimed at youth, and funding of NGOs that explicitly advocate the legalization of abortion.

Golubiewski outlines the EU’s legal and institutional structure and argues that over the last twenty years, treaty revisions have enabled NGOs to influence the policymaking process with little accountability. Coupled with an erosion of influence of national parliaments, he argues that the “moral regulation” agenda has been able to take hold because of states’ misplaced assumption that state sovereignty is protected by the current EU framework and treaty provisions.

Golubiewski points what he calls the “weak letter of the subsidiarity principle” that was supposed to guarantee respect for localized self-government and he argues that “sovereignty serves as a much better principle of democratic control … because the locus of control remains closer to the more transparent and accountable institutions of the democratic state.” 

Golubiewski offers several recommendations to combat the growing “moral regulation” agenda in Europe. Golubiewski urges national governments to scrutinize programs that fund controversial initiatives; seek greater transparency and control over the funding of NGOs; eliminate largely unaccountable advisory expert networks; and demand greater transparency and accountability of the European Parliament to member states.

The author concludes that “Only timely and effective action by national capitals to assert their rights can protect and preserve national traditions of marriage, family, and human life — arguably the most important issues of our time.”

Golubiewski is a Polish national working on a doctorate in international relations at Johns Hopkins University and serves as C-FAM’s analyst of European affairs. Golubiewski’s paper is the latest in the White Paper Series from the International Organizations Research Group, the research arm of the C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute), publisher of the Friday Fax.

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