Rescue Package For Fundamental Rights: Comments by PÁL SONNEVEND

The European Union could not be imagined without respect for fundamental rights by both the EU itself and its member states. It is certainly not possible to define the EU solely on the basis of this, but the respect for fundamental rights belongs to the very core of a European identity, without which no integration would be possible. At the same time, the EU needed 57 years after the establishment of the European Steel and Coal Community to have a legally binding written catalogue of fundamental rights having the rank of a constitutional instrument. No doubt, this hesitation was partly a result of fearing the extension of the powers of the EC and the EU. Yet it also rooted in the conviction that judicial enforcement is not the only way to ensure respect for our most fundamental values.

My remarks on the excellent and innovative proposal of Professor Bogdandy and his team depart from this conviction. This starting point might be surprising from a scholar from a country – Hungary – with a heavy influence of German legal thinking and with strong traditions of constitutional adjudication. Our constitutional system has, since the collapse of the communist rule, traditionally been focused on the judicial enforcement of constitutional rules. The new Basic Law which entered into force 1 January 2012 did not change this, even if the competences of the Constitutional Court were truncated badly with regard to tax and budget matters. Against this background, one could expect that a Hungarian scholar would welcome a further legalisation of fundamental rights protection without reservations.

What is more, the constitution making majority of the present Hungarian government actually rattled the conviction of constitutional lawyers that there is a solid, in a sense absolute body of norms distant from everyday political life. The experience is that quick constitutional amendments in reaction to Constitutional Court judgements are not a taboo ...

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