Single title

"Current Challenges Facing the European Union – The Contribution of the Court of Justice"

by Prof. Dr. Thomas von Danwitz, Dr. Franziska Rinke, Christina Bellmann

12th Berlin Legal Policy Conference

The European Union currently faces a variety of challenges. Since it is constituted as a Community based on the rule of law, the case-law of the European Court of Justice enables these challenges to be pinpointed with considerable precision. Reason enough for the 12th Legal Policy Conference of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to conduct a detailed examination of the contribution made by the European Court of Justice to resolve the present challenges confronting the European Union.

The role played by the Court of Justice in safeguarding the rule of law in Europe is of special significance. Mention must be made here not only of the development and formulation of rule-of-law principles but also of the recognition in case- law of ways and means of providing effective legal protection for Union citizens as well as of prosecution and penalty mechanisms which the European Commission can employ with respect to the Member States in accordance with the Treaty. It transpires that the rule of law in Europe is far from existing only on paper and that there are instruments in the Treaty which are designed to safeguard rule-of-law institutions and procedures. Nonetheless, the Court of Justice authorized to employ these instruments is not a party in a dispute but an independent decision-making body. Its remit is underpinned by the values of the European Union. These are reflected primarily in the fundamental values guaranteed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and they find symbolic expression in the case-law of the Court of Justice. This case- law reveals the DNA of the European Union and makes it clear time and again that the individual is the focus of its action.

Of no less significance are the challenges the European Union faces in the tension between Union citizenship and right of residence which has arisen in the context of access to social security systems. The requisite balancing of interests the Court of Justice regularly has to undertake in its case-law is of crucial importance for both rightful claimants and tax-able Union citizens.

The conference proceedings contain views and reflections presented from a supreme court, jurisprudential, European policy, and legal policy perspective on the contribution of the Court of Justice in these two areas of tension. The proceedings offer an overview which, given the challenges currently confronting Europe, provide food for thought in the debate on the further development of the Community of law. We are grateful to the authors for their contributions. Our thanks also go to the conference participants for numerous judicious, critical, and constructive comments.

We hope the proceedings make stimulating reading.