European Union Human Rights Law
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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.
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Chapter 2: The rule of law and human rights in the EU

Marton Varju


The rule of law is the defining interpretative consideration for the entire EU human rights jurisprudence and provides the origins of the protection of human rights in the EU and the conceptual basis of the EU human rights principle. The rule of law and the EU human rights principle together ensure that EU legislative and administrative action remains lawful and actors are held accountable and responsible for breaches of human rights and for breaches of law. As indicated in Chapter 1, the rule of law is also responsible for the complex character of EU human rights law in which the conventional uses of human rights law for the protection of individuals and for ensuring legality are combined with uses which regard human rights as functional instruments in EU polity- and constitution-building and which interpret human rights with reference to their broader European legal and governance context. This follows from the equally complex character of the rule of law in the EU which pursues multiple, often contradicting agendas. The interpretative influences work in both directions. The interpretative practices of EU courts shape EU human rights law to reflect the rule of law in the EU and with their human rights jurisprudence they define and fashion the EU's rule of law principle. The rule of law in the EU is the product of the broader context of European integration. In the same way as the human rights principle, it serves both purposes of constructing and restraining the EU polity.

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