When asking, ‘if there is justice deficit in Europe?’ we should query the power of Member States

As the winds of populism blow across Europe, from the Algarve to Lapland and from the Irish to the Aegean Sea, it might be tempting to dismiss the return to nativism as a temporary and transitory vehicle of popular protest. However, as UKIP, Golden Dawn, Jobbik, the Sweden Democrats, Podemos, Syriza, Vlams Belang and True Finns all secure seats in local, regional, national and supranational assemblies, the questions mount about differential impact of the Euro crisis on comparative attractiveness of these political forces to national electorate over the idea of a unified and indeed just Europe. With populist parties advocating extremely diverse political agendas, they all reach out to their voters hushing them away from the political forces who have dominated the political scene during the years of plenty before the Euro crisis.

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The EU’s limited justice capacities

The starting premise behind Europe’s Justice Deficit? is that we have to associate justice not only with the state, but also with sub- and supra-state entities. Considering the depth and breadth of European integration, the EU cannot escape our scrutiny; the EU is, as the editors remark, ‘clearly at the very least a potential agent of (in)justice’. One cannot but wholeheartedly agree with this starting assumption, but we should also acknowledge that it leaves a very important question unanswered: does the EU possess the same capacities for delivering (in)justices as other entities, in particular the state? Can we simply apply our justice vocabulary to the EU without even the slightest modicum of translation that takes into account the context within which the EU is situated? While it is not denied that the EU has the ability to deliver justice, it is suggested that there are limits to the EU’s justice capacities.

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The Empire of Principle

The idea of Constitutionalism beyond the state perfectly matches the essentially non-political, economic arrangement that has clothed itself in political discourses of human rights, rule of law and democracy. The forms and procedures put forward by Kumm et.al. conceal the initial lack of substance and proximity with the life of Europeans and their daily dealings and the relations which the framework they were designed to merely formalize. The Union postulates the a-priori conditions of unity which do not dynamically (organically) emerge from within the heat of political life – unity appears as extraneous layers superimposed on the disarray of European communities. What remains, within the framework the European Union, is an expression without anything to express, devoid if not of meaning then of a connection to the sources of meaningfulness.

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A few more thoughts on equality and solidarity

Although discussions on justice in Europe are not new, ’justice deficit’ is not a term as familiar to wider audiences as ‘democratic deficit’. However, it has the potential to become a powerful catchword for all those disillusioned with the European project, or even for the ardent supporters of the idea of the European Union, who […]

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Looking for the ‘Justice’ in EU civil and private law?

It is great to see this debate on the EU justice deficit. To me this debate goes to the fundamental issue of legitimacy, with which the EU continues to grapple. However I have one regret, which relates to the lack of attention devoted to the European Union’s justice deficit in the area of civil and private law. All of us enter into private law obligations throughout our lives, making small contracts, buying property, inheriting property, being involved in an accident; the list is endless. The justice or injustice consequences of these civil law interactions, in terms of the way in which these obligations operate, are construed and adjudicated upon which can dramatically impact individuals and society.

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