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Conflicting Perspectives on the Rule of Law in the EU: Dual Nature or Double Standards?

Online Event
Dimitry Kochenov
Thursday, October 29, 2020, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

ABSTRACT / In a significant leap forward over the last three years the Court of Justice and the Commission managed to revolutionise the understanding and the place of the Rule of Law in the system of EU law and politics. It started from competence to give this notion clear articulation across the levels of EU governance set out in Portuguese Judges. Substance followed, shaping the 'cardinal principles' of judicial independence and irremovability in a whole cascade of Polish cases. Clear interim measures and beefed-up enforcement completed the picture. The EU has thus moved to a different world compared with Les Verts constitutionalism, with its formalistic, if not circular logic. The Commission and the Court have learned a lot in the process and made the Union a potentially stronger constitutional system. Yet, the problems of over-instrumentalization of the Rule of Law, familiar from Opinion 2/13 remain, hinting at the dual nature of the newly-found articulation of the principle. The price is effectiveness: while the Rule of Law is deployed to claim supremacy, the revamped principle falls short of guaranteeing positive change on the ground in the Member States where liberal democracy is in decline. The Commission has won, but CEU is already in Vienna. Worse still, not all the principles the Court formulates seem to be expected to guide the EU itself, leading to unnecessary scandals with the EU's judiciary, undermining the tremendous effort behind the judicial independence case-law. A mixed picture emerges, attesting to a gradual articulation of double standards in Europe. These will have to be dealt with, should the Union stand by the achievements of the on-going constitutional revolution, making values a significant part of the EU's constitutional rationale.

BIO / Dimitry Kochenov (LEGS '02) is Professor of EU Constitutional Law and Citizenship at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). He focuses on the principles of law in the global context, with a special emphasis on the Rule of Law, citizenship, and enforcement of EU values. Among his books is EU Enlargement and the Failure of Conditionality: Pre-Accession Conditionality in the Fields of Democracy and the Rule of Law (Kluwer, 2008), Citizenship (MIT Press, 2019, translated into several languages) and numerous (co-)edited collections, including, most recently, The Internal Market and the Future of European Integration (Cambridge, 2019, with Amtenbrink, Davies, and Lindeboom), The Enforcement of EU Law and Values (Oxford 2017 with Jakab), Reinforcing Rule of Law Oversight in the EU (Cambridge, 2016, with Closa) and many other highly cited works (h30). He is PI on a Rule of Law practices WP of the Horizon2020 RECONNECT consortium. Serving the academic community, Dimitry sat on ERC Advanced grants panels, national research councils, and took part in the national research assessment of Potruguese institutions of higher education. Dimitry held visiting appointments, inter alia, at Princeton (LAPA, Woodrow Wilson School), NYU Law School, College of Europe, Scuola di Studi Superiori di Torino, LUISS (Rome), Osaka Graduate School of Law. He consults governments and international organizations on the subjects of his interest, including The Netherlands, Malta, European and Scottish parliaments and acts as expert in front of courts. The Economist, FT, NYT, BBCCBCNBC and other leading outlets paid attention to Dimitry's work / published his op-eds and interviews.

Please register for the event using this link.