The EU’s proclaimed nature as a value-based Union trumps its values in practice, as well as the most essential rights of Europeans caught in the maze of the CJEU’s wishful thinking, our Research Affiliate Petra Bárd and the lead researcher of our Rule of Law Working Group Dimitry Kochenov write in a new DI Working Paper.
This reveals the new face of the Union as a powerful actor of injustice, which is incapable – as years go by – to correct the excesses of its own – not only national-level – departures from the essential values it was created to ensure, safeguard, and uphold.
We demonstrate that the application of the current standards of mutual trust in EU law lead the EU and the Member States to disregard systematically the most essential principles of law, such as the presumption of innocence. In the current context neither the political institutions nor the CJEU have displayed willingness to address fully Rule of Law backsliding and significant breaches of Article 2 TEU within the framework of mutual recognition. This reluctance persists despite the other EU institutions either lacking the ability, or the willingness, to shoulder political responsibility and actively contribute to resolving the intricate problem of a crisis in shared values. As a result, the EU becomes complicit via its institutions being unable to ensure that the basic substance of the Rule of Law is adhered to on the ground, while at the same time demanding mutual trust based on the requirement of ignorance of the actual state of the Union. This is a significant and painful violation of the core ideas underpinning post-enlightenment criminal law and the most basic due process guarantees.
While mutual trust is crucial for the Union’s functioning, it is rightly not mentioned among the founding values of Article 2 TEU. Treating mutual trust as a super-principle capable of outweighing those values in practice – the daily practice of the CJEU today, as we have demonstrated – is a grave violation of EU law significantly endangering the European unification project.