European Union Human Rights Law

European Union Human Rights Law

The Dynamics of Interpretation and Context

Marton Varju

The European Union’s jurisprudence is responsible for a complex body of human rights law which pursues a busy, multi-tiered agenda and is essential for the lawful and the effective operation and development of the EU polity and its legal order. This innovative book investigates the character of EU human rights law as shaped by the interplay between interpretation and context in the jurisprudence of EU courts.

Chapter 7: The multi-layered character of EU human rights law

Marton Varju

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, european law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


This chapter discusses the multi-layered character of EU human rights law and the impact of protecting human rights in multi-layered legal and governance constructions on the law. The relevant interpretative practices appear in every domain of the jurisprudence and involve relying on actors located outside the EU framework to ensure that human rights are observed in the EU. The multi-layered character of EU human rights law, as we discussed earlier in this book, is inseparable from its 'relational' character and from its limitations found in the existence of parallel constitutional authorities in the European legal space. When the competing constitutional authority is located externally and at a different layer, at the national or at the international level, its relevance for the law and its interpretative consequences lend EU human rights law a multi-layered character. As discussed throughout this book, the multi-layered character of EU human rights law is evidenced in interpretative practices which take into account the demands arising from other locations of constitutional authority and which demonstrate due deference, when appropriate, to the autonomy and discretion of actors at those locations. Most commonly, the EU Court in interpreting and applying human rights defers to national courts and national legal and constitutional orders.

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