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Law and Identity in the European Integration

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords hierarchy of norms, heterarchy, rule of law, identity, culture
Authors János Martonyi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The success of the European integration depends, to a large extent, on restoring the equilibrium amongst its various dimensions: the economic, the political and the cultural. This rebalancing should primarily focus on upgrading the hitherto relatively neglected cultural dimension of the European construct, as a basis of European identity. Since law is not only an instrument, but a core element of European identity, rule of law, should be respected on the international, European and national level. The traditional strict, ‘Kelsenian’ hierarchy of legal norms has been substantially loosened, primarily, but not exclusively due to the emergence of European law. The geometric order of legal norms has become heterarchic and the neat ranking of the different levels as well as the absolute primacy based upon that ranking has been questioned. This applies equally to the relationship between international law and European law and between European law and the national laws of the Member States. Both the principle of the autonomy of European, law and the constitutional identity of the Member States aim at protecting the core principles of European law, and the laws of the Member States, respectively. The rule of law does not necessarily presuppose a neat geometric hierarchy of legal norms. It does require, however, an orderly structure, where the precise areas of the autonomy of EU law, as well of the constitutional identity of Member States are defined in a clear and foreseeable manner. While a perfect order can never be established, legal certainty and ultimately, rule of law could be substantially reinforced through mutual empathy and understanding as well as continuous and effective dialogue, consultation and concentration between the various levels of legislation and, in particular, of adjudication.


János Martonyi
János Martonyi: professor emeritus, University of Szeged; former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary (1998-2002 and 2010-2014).
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