Is differentiation possible in rule of law?

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The European Union (EU) is a community based on the rule of law. EU member states have committed themselves to uphold the rule of law and to respect the primacy of EU law. Yet today, the EU legal order is threatened by the emergence of increasingly autocratic member state governments, particularly those in Hungary and Poland, who routinely violate the fundamental rule of law principles on which the EU is based. This article assesses whether the model of differentiated integration can be applied to help the EU address this rule of law crisis. In recent years, many analysts have called on the EU to embrace a model of differentiated integration as a way to address its many challenges, and some have suggested that versions of differentiation might help the EU resolve tensions with its member states concerning the rule of law. By contrast, this article will argue that differentiation in the rule of law and the theory of constitutional pluralism that some use to justify it are neither normatively desirable nor practically feasible models. In short, we must reject differentiated integration when it comes to rule of law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-260
Number of pages15
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 4 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Constitutional pluralism
  • Differentiated integration
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Rule of law


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