After World War II, with the founding of the Council of Europe and the institutions that would later become the European Union, Europe embarked on an uncertain path toward what some intended to be a form of pan-European cooperation in economic and human rights matters and what others desired to be the first step toward a "United States of Europe." The result has been a sweeping transfer of power from national capitols to EU institutions and significant EU regulatory and legal oversight on issues once clearly a matter of exclusive national concern. Along the way, treaty amendments and the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union and European Court of Human Rights have given rise to robust objections from "euro-skeptics," who are insisting that their national governments should "claw back" powers from the entire range of European institutions. This section examines recent developments in this debate, particularly on the subjects of human rights, law and justice, finance and trade, and the democratic impacts of the expanding authority of the European institutions.
Law & Justice
Using as a basis the need for a strong justice system in each country to permit a functional “single market,” the institutions of the European Union have, in recent years, developed various mechanisms for the monitoring of and, in some instances, interference in the law and justice systems of the trade bloc’s member states. Key among these initiatives has been the so-called European Union Rule of Law Mechanism, proposed by the European Commission, and including provisions that would, in essence, federalize the justice system of the European Union. This focus area explores developments related to this and other law and justice mechanisms and the response of euro-skeptic supporters of the traditional nation-state to attempts by the Union to interfere with their countries’ legal systems.