Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

Rule of law and democracy in the European Union: Current debates

Over the past two decades, democracy, human rights and the rule of law have come under increasing pressure in Europe. EU Member States like Hungary, Poland or Romania but also countries from the Council of Europe such as Russia or Turkey have unsettled what seemed to be an emerging consensus over liberal constitutionalism (pluralism, judicial independence, gender equality, minority as well as migrants’ rights, etc.). While the European Union and most Member States face criticisms about their own democratic and rule of law shortcomings, they seem to struggle to find responses to this “rule of law” challenge across the continent, thereby turning it into an existential crisis for the EU and its “common values”.

The course will provide conceptual tools and sociological insights to make sense of the increasingly polarised debates over “rule of law”, “illiberal democracies” and “populist constitutionalism”. To do, it will also explore the historical, political and legal roots of the current crisis, map out the strategies of the actors (governments, NGOs, constitutional courts, Council of Europe, EU, etc.) involved in this transnational debate, and analyse the gradual establishment and current shortcomings of a “rule of law” policy at the EU level. From a disciplinary perspective, the course will draw from the field of transnational history, socio-legal studies, EU studies and comparative politics.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.