CE41 - Inégalités, discriminations, migrations

The New EU instruments for the Protection of the Rule of Law: Towards a Techno-managerial Strategy? – MEDROI

Submission summary

Today, Europe faces a “crisis of values”. This crisis is related to the numerous challenges the European Union (“EU”) has faced in recent years – such as the sovereign debt crisis, the security crisis linked to the threat of terrorism, and the migration crisis. It has been characterized by a systemic deterioration in certain Member States of the EU’s founding values, such as democracy, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights. In particular, two Member States – Hungary and Poland – are experiencing a significant decline in the rule of law, which has involved the establishment of electoral autocracies that seek to undermine the limits on the exercise of executive power in order to maintain the dominant political party in power in the long term.

Faced with the ineffectiveness of the political mechanisms intended to protect the rule of law in its Member States, the EU has developed a new strategy based on judicial and techno-managerial mechanisms. On the one hand, a number of preliminary references and infringement procedures that have been referred to the Court of Justice of the EU have found serious rule of law breaches in Hungary and Poland. Yet on the other hand, the EU has relied on instruments that were not specifically designed nor envisioned to protect the rule of law, such as the European Semester, the European Structural and Investment Funds, and the protection of EU’s financial interests. These mechanisms mainly pertain to the Economic and Monetary Union, cohesion policy and European fiscal policy, and rely on techno-managerial control mechanisms (indicators and scoreboards, benchmarking, peer reviews, etc.).

While this new approach is likely to respond to criticisms regarding the lack of effectiveness of the Union's protection of the rule of law, it also raises some concerns. Firstly, the use of techno-managerial mechanisms is likely to undermine the constitutional balance of the Union by favouring, in particular, a management of the crisis of values by the European executive power and a marginalisation of parliamentary assemblies. Secondly, this new approach by the European Union could have the consequence that only those dimensions of the rule of law linked to economic and budgetary considerations will be effectively protected, to the detriment of other dimensions such as the rights of minorities, and thus, promote a conception of the rule of law that is not in compliance with international standards, such as those stemming from the Council of Europe.

Using a pragmatic approach combined with an instrument-based approach and inductive reasoning, the MEDROI research project will critically analyse this new strategy. This has threefold-objective: (i) identify the techno-managerial control mechanisms mobilised by the EU alongside their effectiveness; (ii) analyse the consequences of this new approach for the protection of the rule of law within the EU; and (iii) assess the compatibility of this new approach by the EU with international standards for the protection of the rule of law.

At the end of the two years covered by the project, MEDROI will mainly make it possible to identify the conception of the rule of law that is effectively produced by the EU through its new strategy, and to compare it with European and international standards for the protection of the rule of law; to assess the effectiveness of the protection of the rule of law in the EU; and to propose credible solutions to strengthen the protection of the rule of law in EU Member States.

Project coordination

Arnaud Van Waeyenberge (Groupement de Recherche et d'Etudes en Gestion à HEC)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


GREGHEC Groupement de Recherche et d'Etudes en Gestion à HEC

Help of the ANR 190,794 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2021 - 24 Months

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