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United In Diversity or Through Diversity? National Identity As a Flexibility Clause - Granting Member States a Margin of Appreciation

Elander Duque, Eric LU (2012) JURM02 20122
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Förhållandet mellan unionens rättsordning och medlemstaternas nationella konstitutioner är komplicerad, främst på grund av EU:s unika karaktär. EU-27 innebär oundvikligen att unionen står på 27 olika nationella konstitutioner, alla med sina egna konstitutionella särdrag. Artikel 4.2 i EU-fördraget (hädanefter ”EUF”), som stadgar att unionen skall respektera medlemstaternas nationella identiteter, har dock potentialen att tillgodose dessa särdrag inom unionens rättsordning. Artikel 4.2 EUF, här kallad den nationella identitetsklausulen, är dock täckt av ett lager av mystik. Dess undflyende karaktär härstammar från en rad olika frågor. Vad är definitionen av en nationell identitet, vad är den rättsliga betydelsen av den nationella... (More)
Förhållandet mellan unionens rättsordning och medlemstaternas nationella konstitutioner är komplicerad, främst på grund av EU:s unika karaktär. EU-27 innebär oundvikligen att unionen står på 27 olika nationella konstitutioner, alla med sina egna konstitutionella särdrag. Artikel 4.2 i EU-fördraget (hädanefter ”EUF”), som stadgar att unionen skall respektera medlemstaternas nationella identiteter, har dock potentialen att tillgodose dessa särdrag inom unionens rättsordning. Artikel 4.2 EUF, här kallad den nationella identitetsklausulen, är dock täckt av ett lager av mystik. Dess undflyende karaktär härstammar från en rad olika frågor. Vad är definitionen av en nationell identitet, vad är den rättsliga betydelsen av den nationella identitetsklausulen och hur ska den tillämpas? Detta arbete fokuserar på den sista frågan. Dess tes är att artikel 4.2 EUF bör ses som en flexibilitetsklausul som ger medlemsstaterna ett utrymme för skönsmässig bedömning.

Mot den bakgrunden, argumenteras här att artikel 4.2 EUF som en flexibilitetsklausul finner sitt rättsliga sammanhang inom begreppet konstitutionell pluralism samt subsidiaritetsprincipen och principen om tilldelade befogenheter.

Även om förslaget att koppla den nationella identitetsklausulen med doktrinen om ett utrymme för skönsmässig bedömning kan tolkas från befintlig rättspraxis, är den rättsliga konsekvensen av deras samexistens okänd mark. Till synes skulle artikel 4.2 EUF som en flexibilitetsklausul innebära två saker. För det första skulle den ändra proportionalitetstestets tillämpning på fall som rör den nationella identitetsklausulen, förmodligen genom att skapa ett mildare test. För det andra skulle förslaget bjuda in EU domstolen till att ge vägledande domar snarare än färdiga lösningar.

Därutöver väcker kopplingen mellan ett utrymme för skönsmässig bedömning och den nationella identitetsklausulen frågan om identitetsklausulen är en kodifierad och förstärkt grund för ordre public eller en fristående klausul. Eftersom de två mest kända fallen gällande artikel 4.2 EUF, Omega och Sayn-Wittgenstein, i första hand är kopplade till ordre public, kan identitetsklausulens juridiska tyngd ifrågasättas. Dess rättsliga värde kan dock även ifrågasättas om granskad mot principen om EU-rättens företräde. Även om betydelsen av nationella identiteter inte kan underskattas, har EU-domstolen, i det nyligen avgjorda fallet Melloni, betonat vikten av att inte äventyra EU-rättens företräde, enhetlighet och verkan.

Sammantaget, även om artikel 4.2 EUF sedd som en flexibilitetsklausul svarar på frågan om hur man kan förena nationella konstitutionella särdrag med unionsrätten, genererar den främst fler frågor än svar. Den nationella identitetsklausulen undflyende karaktär kvarstår således. (Less)
Abstract
The relationship between the Union legal order and the national constitutions of its Member States is a complex one, caused mostly due to the sui generis nature of the European Union. EU-27 inevitably means that the Union stands on 27 different national constitutions, each with its own constitutional specificities. Article 4.2 TEU, stating that the Union shall respect the national identities of the Member States, nevertheless has the potential to accommodate those specificities within the Union legal order. Article 4.2 TEU, in this paper referred to as the national identity clause, is however covered in a layer of mystery. Its elusive character stems from a range of varying questions. What is the exact definition of a national identity,... (More)
The relationship between the Union legal order and the national constitutions of its Member States is a complex one, caused mostly due to the sui generis nature of the European Union. EU-27 inevitably means that the Union stands on 27 different national constitutions, each with its own constitutional specificities. Article 4.2 TEU, stating that the Union shall respect the national identities of the Member States, nevertheless has the potential to accommodate those specificities within the Union legal order. Article 4.2 TEU, in this paper referred to as the national identity clause, is however covered in a layer of mystery. Its elusive character stems from a range of varying questions. What is the exact definition of a national identity, what is the legal relevance of the national identity clause, and how should it be applied? This paper focuses on the last question. As such, the paper stands on the thesis that Article 4.2 TEU should be seen as a flexibility clause granting Member States a margin of appreciation.

In that light, it is argued that Article 4.2 TEU as a flexibility clause finds its legal context within the notion of constitutional pluralism, as well as within the principles of subsidiarity and conferral.

Although the proposition of linking the national identity clause with the margin of appreciation can be interpreted from existing case-law, the legal implication of their coexistence is uncharted territory. Seemingly, Article 4.2 TEU seen as a flexibility clause would imply two things. First, it would alter the proportionality test applicable in cases related to the national identity clause, presumably by creating a more lenient test. Second, the margin of appreciation may manifest itself by inviting the ECJ to preferably give guidance judgments rather than ready-made solutions, giving national courts a sort of “right to assessment”.

Additionally, the connection between the margin of appreciation and the national identity clause begs the question of whether the identity clause is a codified and amplified public policy derogation, or a freestanding clause for derogation. As the two most famous cases on Article 4.2 TEU, Omega and Sayn-Wittgenstein, primarily are linked to public policy, the legal weight of the identity clause may be questioned. Its legal value might however also be questioned if compared to the principle of primacy. While the significance of national identities cannot be underestimated, the ECJ, in the recent case Melloni, nevertheless stressed the importance of not jeopardizing the primacy, unity and effectiveness of EU law.

In conclusion, although Article 4.2 TEU seen as a flexibility clause answers the question on how to reconcile national constitutional specificities with Union law, it primarily generates more questions than answers. Hence, the elusive character of the national identity clause remains. (Less)
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author
Elander Duque, Eric LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20122
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
EU-law, Constitutional EU-law, National identities, Article 4.2 TEU, Article 4(2) TEU, Margin of appreciation
language
English
id
3561772
date added to LUP
2013-03-13 12:51:26
date last changed
2013-03-13 12:51:26
@misc{3561772,
  abstract     = {The relationship between the Union legal order and the national constitutions of its Member States is a complex one, caused mostly due to the sui generis nature of the European Union. EU-27 inevitably means that the Union stands on 27 different national constitutions, each with its own constitutional specificities. Article 4.2 TEU, stating that the Union shall respect the national identities of the Member States, nevertheless has the potential to accommodate those specificities within the Union legal order. Article 4.2 TEU, in this paper referred to as the national identity clause, is however covered in a layer of mystery. Its elusive character stems from a range of varying questions. What is the exact definition of a national identity, what is the legal relevance of the national identity clause, and how should it be applied? This paper focuses on the last question. As such, the paper stands on the thesis that Article 4.2 TEU should be seen as a flexibility clause granting Member States a margin of appreciation. 

In that light, it is argued that Article 4.2 TEU as a flexibility clause finds its legal context within the notion of constitutional pluralism, as well as within the principles of subsidiarity and conferral. 

Although the proposition of linking the national identity clause with the margin of appreciation can be interpreted from existing case-law, the legal implication of their coexistence is uncharted territory. Seemingly, Article 4.2 TEU seen as a flexibility clause would imply two things. First, it would alter the proportionality test applicable in cases related to the national identity clause, presumably by creating a more lenient test. Second, the margin of appreciation may manifest itself by inviting the ECJ to preferably give guidance judgments rather than ready-made solutions, giving national courts a sort of “right to assessment”. 

Additionally, the connection between the margin of appreciation and the national identity clause begs the question of whether the identity clause is a codified and amplified public policy derogation, or a freestanding clause for derogation. As the two most famous cases on Article 4.2 TEU, Omega and Sayn-Wittgenstein, primarily are linked to public policy, the legal weight of the identity clause may be questioned. Its legal value might however also be questioned if compared to the principle of primacy. While the significance of national identities cannot be underestimated, the ECJ, in the recent case Melloni, nevertheless stressed the importance of not jeopardizing the primacy, unity and effectiveness of EU law. 

In conclusion, although Article 4.2 TEU seen as a flexibility clause answers the question on how to reconcile national constitutional specificities with Union law, it primarily generates more questions than answers. Hence, the elusive character of the national identity clause remains.},
  author       = {Elander Duque, Eric},
  keyword      = {EU-law,Constitutional EU-law,National identities,Article 4.2 TEU,Article 4(2) TEU,Margin of appreciation},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {United In Diversity or Through Diversity? National Identity As a Flexibility Clause - Granting Member States a Margin of Appreciation},
  year         = {2012},
}