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Research project

CINEM - Constitutional interpretation in emergencies in Europe

This project has received funding via the EUI Widening Programme call 2024. The EUI Widening Europe Programme initiative, backed by contributions from the European Union and EUI Contracting States, is designed to strengthen internationalisation, competitiveness, and quality in research in Widening countries, and thus foster a more cohesive European Higher Education and Research area.

A vast and growing literature has emerged over the last two decades on the legal theory of emergencies, regulatory regimes, and the scientific assessment of exceptional powers and rights-restrictions. However, less attention has been paid to the constitutional review of emergency legislation. The primary reason for this scholarly gap may be that (constitutional) courts have traditionally been deferential to the executive in dealing with a crisis in times of emergency, and, since judicial review usually reacts to legal challenges with some delay and after the events, it is difficult to access the relatively limited information needed for a normative assessment or even for a broader comparative analysis.

The purpose of this project is to fill this gap. The research will take advantage of several analyses that have been conducted of the constitutional review of law-making related to previous crises, and several databases have been established in the meantime on the jurisprudence related to the pandemic. 

This comparative study will investigate whether and how the methods of constitutional interpretation have changed in emergency situations across Europe, with special regard to some of the so-called Widening countries: (Bulgaria (or Romania), Croatia, the Czech Republic (or Slovakia), Hungary, Greece and Portugal).

The major research questions that we will try to answer in this project are:

  1. Is constitutional review power limited in times of emergency?
  2. What emergency legislation has been subject to constitutional review?
  3. Does the constitutional court (or other higher courts) apply different interpretative methods when reviewing emergency legislation?
  4. What are the constitutionality yardsticks for the derogation of fundamental rights?

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