The "essence" of EU fundamental rights

Mark Dawson co-edits special focus September issue of the German Law Journal.

Hertie School Professor of European Law and Governance Mark Dawson is a guest editor of the September volume of the German Law Journal, which is devoted to the subject of fundamental rights in the European Union.

Together with Orla Lynskey of the London School of Economics and Political Science and Elise Muir of the KU Leuven, Dawson curated and edited the articles, focusing on the question of the “Essence” of fundamental rights, with the lead article written by Koen Lenaerts, the President of the European Court of Justice.

In their introductory article, Dawson and co-authors pose a central question: What is the added value of the increasing prominence of the concept of the “essence” of fundamental rights in EU law? They examine the function of the concept in EU law and the methods for its derivation; summarize how its application diverges across EU—and international—law; outline some enduring difficulties with the essence concept; and finally, reflect on its future role in EU law, including its impact on other sites of legal authority—such as domestic fundamental rights, the political institutions of the EU, and international human rights law.

This, and the other articles of the issue “demonstrate that while there is not yet a coherent approach to deriving and understanding the essence of rights across the fundamental rights the EU must protect, the essence concept plays an increasingly significant role in demarcating the boundaries between the EU’s legal and political orders and between overlapping sites of legal authority” according to the authors. “Recent developments—such as the rule of law “crises”—are likely to further amplify the importance of “essence” to EU law practice and scholarship.”

The issue also includes an article by Hertie School adjunct Pierre Thielboerger on “The “Essence” of International Human Rights”, alongside papers by a number of EU law scholars.

Read the full issue of Volume 20, Issue 6, September 2019 here.

More about Mark Dawson

  • Mark Dawson, Professor of European Law and Governance