A computational perspective on European constitutional values in the case law of the CJEU on economic free movement
PhD student: Mrs C. Rosca
Promotors: Prof G. van Dijck, G. Spanakis
Duration: 1/9/2019 - 31/8/2023
The case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on economic free movement (free movement of goods, persons, services and capital) currently consists of over 3000 cases (Corpus). To date, some of these cases have occupied a central place in legal doctrine given that they reflect some of the most essential tensions between European and national policies. These tensions arise in the context of multi-level governance, as the internal market objectives pursued by the European Union do not always align with the national policies of Member States, raising concerns with respect to the balance being struck between European constitutional values concerning free movement - the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality/market access and national value diversity. This discussion seems ever more important: with Member States such as the UK distancing themselves from the core nucleus of European values, the legitimacy of EU decision-making on the furthering of the internal market is being questioned. According to Article 19 of the Treaty on European Union, the authority to resolve tensions between European and national policies affecting the internal market is vested in the Court. In the course of this balancing exercise, the Court has resorted to various tests. For example, with regard to certain selling arrangements (e.g. Sunday trading rules), the Court held in its 1993 Keck and Mithouard ruling that such measures fall, prima facie, outside the scope of EU Law. However, over the course of the last 26 years, legal scholarship has suggested that subsequent case law has had the effect of increasingly bringing more national measures within the scope of EU law, whether this concerns free movement of goods or other freedoms. This raises the following questions: what are the European constitutional values that the CJEU embodies in its case law on economic free movement and how has the Court balanced these values over time? To answer the main research questions, the proposed project will: a. Establish a legal conceptual framework relating to European constitutional values and their role in the decision-making process of the Court; b. Identify, test and validate computer science techniques that can help operationalise European constitutional values from a computational perspective in order to determine if the Corpus relates to these constitutional values and how; conceptualise and extract new variables from the Corpus that might lead to a different weight being attributed to the respective constitutional values (e.g. the deciding Chamber; type of measure; economic freedom; etc.); investigate the relationship between these variables and the balance struck by the Court; c. Generate new interdisciplinary insights into how the Court has been balancing European constitutional values across time, which has implications for the legitimacy of the Courts case law on economic free movement.