Access to Justice in the EU

2 ECTS / 12h / English

The EU prides itself with having created a legal system that puts the individual at its centre. Beyond the free movement and non-discrimination rights in the Treaties, we are protected by one of the most modern catalogues of fundamental rights in the world. When Member States fall short of these commitments to our benefit, we can bring them in front of a national judge, request that the dispute be brought before the Court of Justice of the EU, or initiate further reaching measures by the Commission.

But what if the EU itself fails to live up to its fundamental rights promises? This seemed far-fetched when the EU was set up to - to put it provocatively – legislate on the shape of bananas. Individuals were accordingly also not provided with strong tools to hold the EU accountable. But this is a problem today. The EU deploys armed border guards, exercises state like law enforcement powers in the fight against crime, and increasingly envisages the use of new technologies in these areas. These activities are fundamental rights sensitive. Yet, they are hard - sometimes almost impossible - to challenge by those affected.

This course explores the question how to ensure access to justice in an EU that has outgrown its own remedies system. How can individuals whose rights may have been violated hold the EU accountable? How can an irregular migrant returned at the border, a business whose premises were searched, or a traveller flagged as 'high risk' by an artificial intelligence system make use of their right to an effective remedy? In this course, we critically reflect on the shortomings of the EU's procedural framework from the perspective of individual applicants and discuss possible solutions beyond the current remedies system.


Melanie Fink is Assistant Professor at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and APART-GSK Fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences at the Central European…