Opening the enforcement of EU fundamental values to European citizens

Over the last two years, the adoption, implementation and, more recently, amendment of the new Hungarian Constitution have sparked widespread political and academic discussion motivated by the controversial genesis and contents of that document. Debates on a European scale have revolved around the difficulties encountered by the European Union in contrasting the corrosion of constitutional democracy in one of its member states. Following a consolidated trend in European studies, also in this occasion the blame has been thrown on the EU institutional framework. If there are problems, it seems, this is mainly because the available instruments of enforcement are inadequate. Jan-Werner Müller’s proposal for a new institution – provisionally baptised “Copenhagen Commission” – does not make exception. He argues that the available remedies (article 7 TEU, infringement proceedings, etc) are not usable or are scarcely effective, and that what we need is a new EU body entrusted with the task of monitoring and sanctioning member states in case of egregious violations of the European fundamental values enshrined in article 2 TEU. The contours of this proposal are only sketched and, therefore, it is difficult to engage in a specific discussion. However, already from what we know it is possible to say that the idea of a Copenhagen Commission has the merit of opening an interesting debate by addressing some of the limits of the current EU institutional architecture.

But prior to discussing this proposal and adventuring myself into institutional engineering, a premise is in order. Before putting forward proposals for institutional reform, we should be aware that the corrosion of European constitutional culture and, notably, of the idea of a pluralist constitution is a phenomenon extending well beyond the Hungarian case. This is not just because other member states can be similarly charged for their dubious commitment to constitutional democracy ...

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