Europe’s justice deficit?

Gráinne de Búrca

The ‘justice question’ is becoming increasingly important in the EU.  With the lives of so many in the European periphery dramatically affected by the policies of austerity, widely perceived to be EU-imposed; with the Court of Justice appearing to stand for its own authority and EU autonomy at any cost; with migrants attempting to reach fortress Europe and drowning en masse as the EU cuts back its rescue services; and with economic inequalities in the Member States reaching new heights, could it be that there is a justice deficit in Europe, exacerbated by the European Union?

The volume ‘Europe’s Justice Deficit?’ co-edited by Dimitry Kochenov, Andrew Williams and Gráinne de Búrca explores this question. The volume is premised on the basis that it is  appropriate to talk about justice in the context of the EU legal and political system; and that questions of justice and injustice in the EU context have not yet (with some notable exceptions) been the subject of much analysis and discussion either by academics or by political and institutional actors.

The first assumption builds on the idea that the scope of justice applicable to the EU should be considered broadly rather than narrowly:  justice should not be associated only with the State. The standards to be applied to particular organizations or polities should reflect the nature of their goals and the extent of the impact their decisions have on the lives of their constituents or those outside their borders. The EU and its institutions have assumed considerable power and influence within and beyond its Member States. Its daily actions substantially affect the interests of individuals, corporations and states, and it possesses significant capacity to address injustice both within its boundaries as well as externally.

The editors and contributors to this book suggest that it is time to think critically about the existence and nature of a perceived justice deficit in Europe, its possible implications for Europe’s future, and to open a discussion about the ways in which such a deficit might be addressed. The book is intended as a first step in this direction.

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