4. Protection of Fundamental Rights in the EU

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‘The protection of fundamental rights within the EU through expert knowledge, citizen participation and judicial instruments’

Work Package 4 (WP4) will focus on the tensions and synergies between democratic legitimacy, participation, expert-led mechanisms, and judicial review when addressing rights violations, inequality, and discrimination. Access to justice is consistently used throughout the EU to enforce liberal democratic norms and to challenge anti-liberal legal pursuits (e.g., reforms of national courts, redistricting).

At the same time, these instruments are regularly portrayed by antiliberal actors as undermining sovereignty or national democracies and may sometimes reasonably be seen as curtailing democratic input into the EU’s multilevel and polycentric order. The multiple crises faced by the EU – the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic – put pressure on legal guarantees of public participation in decision-making.

WP4 focuses on the opportunities and challenges that legalism (expertise, frameworks and politics defined by law) – rather than democratic powers – poses for legitimate decision-making at a time of crisis.

Empirical focus

In order to explore how dissensus shapes and is shaped by expert decision-making, the enforcement of fundamental rights and judicial review, WP4 will focus on (expert) decision-making and (strategic) litigation before national courts, the CJEU and the ECtHR in three different areas, each involving a set of particularly controversial fundamental rights concerns across the EU and its Member States:

  1.  climate change
  2.  LGBTIQ+ rights and discrimination
  3. the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. 

To this end WP4 will assess the tensions and synergies between participatory mechanisms, expertise, and judicial review in protecting fundamental rights and equality within the EU, including in the national context. In parallel, it will analyse cases and examples of public participation, strategic litigation, and expert knowledge in the fields of climate change, LGBTIQ+ concerns and migrants’ discrimination.

Core tasks

  • Assess the shifting opportunities of pursuing minority interests through counter-majoritarian institutions Leader: UvA
  • Analyse counter-majoritarian remedies mobilized at EU or Member State level in response to decision-making and judicial actions on climate change and LGBTIQ+ and discrimination against migrants Leader: UvA

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Co-funded by the European Union

This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the Call HORIZON-CL2-2021-DEMOCRACY-01 – Grant agreement n°101061621

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