How to turn Article 2 TEU into a down-to-Earth provision?

The ‘values on which the Union is built’, the famed article 2 TEU, has arguably never been intended to leave the world of high ideas to land on a prettore’s desk. Law and non-law at the same time, it is a beautiful declaration as righteous and self-congratulatory – indeed, these are the values of our Union! – as destined for foreign consumption: look at our values! With several Member States presumably failing all points in one direction: Sir Isaiah Berlin and numerous other thinkers doubting the inherent kindness and reason of mankind were probably right: the human nature might be better described in the Lord of the Flies than in a dream of Communism inevitable. Most importantly, unlike many wished to believe, being part of the EU does not make a state immune from the potential problems all states face.

Since ‘people are not angels’ they create institutions to be protected from themselves: from extreme passions, from extreme violence, from extreme ‘democracy’. Indeed, the EU has been traditionally viewed as one of the most effective among such protections – a radical elitist project par excellence. The Union created a broad and appealing programme of supranational restraint of the States in relation to each-other, also showing to the world that a different way of sharing a small continent is possible (eg de Búrca 2013).

Based on a free choice of the participating states (certainly not the peoples, especially initially) the Union has recently proclaimed all the things nice in Article 2 with no legal enforcement mechanism sensu stricto. Now we see that this is probably not enough, whence an emerging line of thinking about turning Article 2 TEU – a bunch of solemn proclamations – into something more akin to black-letter law. Prominent contemporary legal scholars work on this puzzle, to which fact the exchanges building on von Bogdandy’s ‘Reverse Solange’ and Jan-Werner Müller’s ‘Copenhagen Commission’ proposals in this blog testify ...

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