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The Long Quest for Identity

Political Identity and Fundamental Rights Protection in the European Union

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Edited By Gabriele de Angelis and Paulo Barcelos

The constitutionalisation of the European Union has been a major goal of European politics from the late 1980s until recently. It is supposed to enhance the citizens’ feeling of belonging and give the Union a clearer political identity and legitimacy. The current euro-crisis seems to have stopped the pursuit of an «ever closer» and constitutionalised Union. National interests and intergovernmental bargaining are now at the centre of European business. While we wonder what will become of the European constitutional project, it remains worthwhile to cast additional light onto what it was supposed to be until recently and how it changed the institutional face of the Union. This volume does so by analysing the political and legal facets of constitutionalisation. Contributions delve into the debates that marked the evolution of the constitutionalisation project and its overall institutional consequences, and focus on fundamental rights protection, the implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, legal conflicts between the European Court of Justice and national constitutional courts, and the legal and political balance of power between EU institutions and national authorities with regard to the defence of fundamental rights and the rule of law.

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Section II: The Role of Fundamental Rights in the Inter-institutional Struggle

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Section II The Role of Fundamental Rights in the Inter-institutional Struggle Enhancing Fundamental Rights Control in Europe. The European Parliament’s Scrutiny of Member States GABRIELE DE ANGELIS1 The European Parliament and fundamental rights: an ambiguous relationship Fundamental rights were bound to be an important component of European constitutionalisation since the beginning. Despite the fact that the inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) in the Treaties was subject to controversies, the will to wrap up the Union’s political principles in a representative document to hold up to citizens and candidate countries alike as a sign of po- litical identity and commitment has accompanied the very idea of constitutionalisation all along. The necessity to close ranks around a core set of political principles was not least motivated by the prospective Eastern enlargement and the necessity to clarify what kind of commitment was expected by newcomers and how high the bar would be set for accessing and remaining within the Union. Hence the introduction from the Treaty of Amsterdam onwards of Art. 6 and 7 TEU: an “atomic bomb” meant to secure a minimum standard of democratic life common to all member states. The idea of exerting a control upon the democratic guarantees of member states was implicit in such an institutional innovation. And yet, the monitoring on the part EU institutions was all but taken for granted by both member states and Parliament. 1 Gabriele De Angelis is “Ciência 2007” Researcher in Political Theory at the Instituto de Filosofia...

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