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A ‘right to have rights’ in the EU public sphere? An Arendtian justification for the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

Frantziou, Eleni (2016) A ‘right to have rights’ in the EU public sphere? An Arendtian justification for the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Working Paper. University of Birmingham.



This paper discusses the Court’s reasoning in interpreting the EU Charter, using recent case law on horizontal effect as a case study. It identifies two possible means of interpreting the provisions of the Charter: firstly, an approach based on common values (e.g. equality or solidarity) and, secondly, an approach based on access to the public sphere. It argues in favour of the latter. Whereas an approach based on common values is more consonant with the development of the case law so far, it is conceptually problematic: it involves subjective assessments of the importance and degree of ‘sharedness’ of the value in question, which can undermine the equal constitutional status of different Charter provisions. Furthermore, it marginalises the Charter’s overall politically constructional character, which distinguishes it from other sources of rights protection listed in Art 6 TEU. The paper argues that, as the Charter’s provisions concretise the notion of political status in the EU, they have a primarily constitutional, rather than ethical, basis. Interpreting the Charter based on the very commitment to a process of sharing, drawing on Hannah Arendt’s idea of the ‘right to have rights’ (a right to access a political community on equal terms), is therefore preferable. This approach retains the pluralistic, post-national fabric of the EU polity, as it accommodates multiple narratives about its underlying values, while also having an inclusionary impact on previously underrepresented groups (e.g. non-market-active citizens or the sans-papiers) by recognising their equal political disposition.

Type of Work:Monograph (Working Paper)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Number of Pages:32
Department:Birmingham Law School, Institute of European Law
Series/Collection Name:IEL Working Papers
Subjects:K Law > K Law (General)
Copyright Status:© The Author(s)
ID Code:2192

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