Europe's Justice Deficit

The EU affects the lives of many people in ways they perceive as profoundly unjust. Lives are dramatically affected by the policies of austerity, widely understood to be EU-imposed. With the Court of Justice appearing to stand for its own authority and EU autonomy at any cost; with migrants attempting to reach fortress Europe and drowning en masse as the EU cuts back its rescue services; and with economic inequalities in the Member States reaching new heights, could it be that there is a justice deficit in Europe, exacerbated by the European Union? There is an urgent need to address the question of justice as an EU objective openly and without reservation, and not to permit nationalists and Eurosceptics to monopolize this debate. On the occasion of the newly launched book “Europe’s Justice Deficit?”, co-edited by EU constitutional law scholars Dimitry Kochenov, Gráinne de Búrca and Andrew Williams, we put this question up for debate.


Mon 06. July 08:15
The EU elephant in the Greek room: What would EU citizens have voted for in the referendum?
Thu 02. July 18:05
Why the Greferendum IS NOT a Problem under Greek Constitutional Law
Wed 01. July 18:03
Greece: voting for or against Europe

Up for Debate

The EU elephant in the Greek room: What would EU citizens have voted for in the referendum?

Alberto Alemanno

July 5, 2015 will go down in history as a game changer for Europe, regardless of what you think, or would have voted for, in the Greek referendum. The future of the Eurozone is no longer a private affaire by EU leaders and creditors but – amid an ill-designed and largely unanticipated referendum – suddenly became the object of a transnational and pan-European political conversation about our collective future. For the first time, no single EU citizen – regardless of her passport – could credibly claim not to care about what was going on in another Member State. Continue reading

303 Alberto Alemanno
 Focus  Europe's Justice Deficit

Looking for the ‘Justice’ in EU civil and private law?

Diana Wallis

It is great to see this debate on the EU justice deficit. To me this debate goes to the fundamental issue of legitimacy, with which the EU continues to grapple. However I have one regret, which relates to the lack of attention devoted to the European Union's justice deficit in the area of civil and private law. All of us enter into private law obligations throughout our lives, making small contracts, buying property, inheriting property, being involved in an accident; the list is endless. The justice or injustice consequences of these civil law interactions, in terms of the way in which these obligations operate, are construed and adjudicated upon which can dramatically impact individuals and society. Continue reading

401 Diana Wallis

Why the Greferendum IS NOT a Problem under Greek Constitutional Law

Ntina Tzouvala

Amongst mounting controversies surrounding the Greek bailout program and the referendum called by the Greek government, questions about the constitutionality of the initiative have been raised. The matter is of great importance, since the Council of the State will rule on the constitutionality of the bill this Friday. Given what is at stake, this might seem to be a totally peripheral question. That said, we will attempt a response, so as to clarify certain legal questions and also to point at the uses and abuses of constitutional arguments. Continue reading

400 Ntina Tzouvala

Greece: voting for or against Europe

Pavlos Eleftheriadis

A ‘no’ result in the Greek referendum next Sunday will set in motion the process of disengagement from the Eurozone. It is true that the EU cannot throw Greece out of the Euro. There is no legal mechanism for ‘Grexit’ as Syriza’s ministers say again and again. But this is irrelevant. The mechanism will work the other way round: the Greek government will beg for Grexit, when it finds out that it absolutely has to recapitalise its banks within a matter of days and discovers that the unilateral creation of a new currency is against EU law. Continue reading

379 Pavlos Eleftheriadis

Transplanting the Law of Policing? – Comparative Legal Reflections on a Symposium with Barry Friedman

Tilmann Altwicker

Can the law of policing (Polizeirecht) be transplanted? Comparative views on this particular field of law are rare. Nevertheless, I will argue that are good reasons to approach this field with a comparative, if not transnational lens. Analyzing law from a comparative perspective almost always means digging for principles. This entails questions such as these: What is “policing”? Does “policing” require legislation? What follows for the law of policing from general constitutional principles? Continue reading

397 Tilmann Altwicker

Democratic Russian Roulette

Daniel Sarmiento

It is inevitable to speak about Greece today. There is a generalized feeling of astonishment about the Greek government’s decision to hold a referendum on the Eurogroup’s second-to-last offer laid down on Thursday. The astonishment has basically two strands: some say it is economic and political suicide for Greece; some say it is the most dignified way out for the Greek people (and its government). I am personally not astonished. I am enraged. Continue reading

396 Daniel Sarmiento
 Focus  Europe's Justice Deficit

A few more thoughts on equality and solidarity

Narine Ghazaryan

Although discussions on justice in Europe are not new, ’justice deficit’ is not a term as familiar to wider audiences as ‘democratic deficit’. However, it has the potential to become a powerful catchword for all those disillusioned with the European project, or even for the ardent supporters of the idea of the European Union, who nevertheless cannot help but point out the failures of the EU when it comes to delivering justice to its citizens. Many involved in this debate have already indicated the abstract nature of the concept of justice, as well as various forms and meanings it can more

395 Narine Ghazaryan

Lustration in Ukraine: Political Cleansing or a Tool of Revenge?

Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou

To tackle corruption and disloyalty the Ukrainian government has proposed a law on government cleansing which is also known as the lustration law. This draft law has recently been examined by the Venice Commission resulting in the opinion adopted on 20 June 2015. Despite the opinion been quite critical the Ukrainian government was quick to announce that the Venice Commission has confirmed that the law in question does not violate any international human rights standards or any of the resolutions of the Council of Europe. The announcement also states that the Venice Commission suggested some technical amendments to the draft law which will be taken into account by the Ukrainian authorities. This statement however does not really reflect what the Venice Commission has observed in its opinion. Continue reading

107 Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou
 Focus  Europe's Justice Deficit

Justice Deficit or Justice Deficient?

Turkuler Isiksel

A legal order centered on the market, far from being vacant from a justice perspective, embodies a particular theory of justice: one that valorizes voluntary economic exchange for its conduciveness to peace, prosperity, and freedom. Whether commerce is, indeed, conducive to all of these things is another question. Continue reading

394 Turkuler Isiksel

Abortion Inside Swedish Democracy: the case of Ellinor Grimmark

Melisa Vazquez

Sweden prides itself on being one of the most “modern” nations, able to function more effectively than others and skilled in taking care of all of its citizens. The concept of freedom features prominently in Swedish political and social self-conceptions. It has been, therefore, rather startling to find the case of Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who has unsuccessfully attempted to assert her right of conscientious objection to performing abortions. Continue reading

393 Melisa Vazquez
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A European Network of Constitutional Law Blogs


In many EU countries, constitutional law blogs with large audiences have emerged, putting forward pointed opinions and profound expert knowledge on topical matters of public policy. We want to connect these blogs and encourage the creation of new blogs to form a tightly-knit network of cooperation. Within one year we want to set up an organizational framework to exchange texts and authors, to launch joint debates on current constitutional issues and to establish a vibrant constitutional public sphere in Europe. For this, we need your support. Continue reading

Too big to handle: Why we are so bad at preventing catastrophes

2014-10-12 Disaster
(c) sea turtle, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Financial crises, genocides, environmental catastrophes, epidemics, wars – constantly things happen we knew exactly that they would a) happen with some likeliness or even certainty, and b) be absolutely horrible. And still we have let it happen. And not just because we could not help it. But because somehow, all things considered, we did not want to. We haven’t done what we could have done. We didn’t want to know what we could have known. What is this strange phenomenon about? And how can we improve ourselves? To find answers to those questions, last week an extraordinarily illustrious group of scholars from all sorts of disciplines had assembled at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. Continue reading

Will an independent Scotland stay in the EU?

2014-09-05 Schottland
(c) James Stringer, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

In less than two weeks we will know whether or not Scotland will remain part of the UK. In the polls, the No camp still leads, but just by a slight and shrinking margin. It might actually happen what has never happened before: One EU member state becomes two. Or, will they? Continue reading

Bosnia and the problem of generalizable human rights gauges

2014-07-15 Bosnien
(c) Amanda Robinson, Flickr CC BY-BC-ND 2.0

For five years Bosnia has been digging its heels in, refusing to align its constitution to the demands of the ECHR and to grant non-bosniacs, -serbs and -croats the right to be elected to its second chamber of legislation. Now, the Strasbourg Court has once again declared this state of affairs unacceptable. But what if it would hold other constitutional systems, such as that of the European Union, up to the standard it applies in the Bosnian case? Continue reading

Burqa Ban: My Right to Be Left Alone is Your Tough Luck

2014-07-07 Trespassing
(c) Michael Dorausch, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

An often heard argument in the debate on the burqa ban decision by the ECtHR is that a minimum of "vivre ensemble" is a condition of all freedom and hence a legitimate balancing factor with the rights to privacy and religious freedom. This, though, is irreconcilable with the "right to be left alone". Continue reading

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