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Staring into the abyss: a crisis of the rule of law in the EU

Smith, Melanie 2019. Staring into the abyss: a crisis of the rule of law in the EU. European Law Journal 25 (6) , pp. 561-576. 10.1111/eulj.12345
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Acceptance of the meaning, operation and enforcement of the rule of law in the EU by its Member States is critical to the Union’s legitimacy. Any perceived or real crisis in the rule of law thus merits careful consideration, yet much existing legal scholarship focuses upon the rule of law for the purposes of accession or promotion of values through the neighbourhood policy. This paper instead focuses on how a crisis in the rule of law occurred within and amongst existing Member States and the EU institutions and how failure to respect a single unifying notion of the rule of law has entrenched this crisis. This paper argues that the primary driver of the crisis has been the EU’s development of a unique three-way ideation of the rule of law that ‘hollowed out’ the rule of law from a constitutional principle to an expedient policy tool. The paper identifies three significant moments where the EU institutions have entrenched the crisis in the rule of law and how, in the aftermath, the EU has tried to manage the chasm between what it deems as respect for the rule of law and certain Member States’ conduct.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1351-5993
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 October 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 September 2019
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 14:47

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