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EU Values before the Court of Justice. Article 2 TEU in the Jurisprudence of the CJEU

About the Project:

The Union’s common values – democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights – are under pressure. The ongoing attacks in several Member States against an independent judiciary, free press, academia and civil society organisations are the most blatant example for these challenges. Against this backdrop, the Court of Justice has set a remarkable development in motion. In a rather recent line of cases – Opinion 2/13, Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, Achmea, L.M., Wightman and Commission v. Poland – the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU took centre stage.

This PhD thesis argues that the Court’s recourse to Article 2 TEU goes far beyond constitutional pathos: Article 2 TEU has been turned into an operational, judicially applicable provision. The project attempts to capture this emerging jurisprudence and to analyse whether and how Article 2 TEU could be judicially applied. This will concern the oscillating nature of “values”, the provision’s indeterminacy and problematic direct effect as well as the Court’s contested jurisdiction. At its core, the project aims at advancing a new understanding of Article 2 TEU – as a Janus-faced provision. In its EU dimension, Article 2 TEU should be understood as a foundational provision of the EU legal order that outlines the basic tenets of an EU constitution. In its Verbund dimension, encompassing both the EU and the Member States in their entirety, Article 2 TEU should be interpreted as a constitutional homogeneity clause. The project will explore the potential of such an understanding in each of these dimensions.

Beware, though: Placing an activated Article 2 TEU in the hands of the Luxembourg judges does not come without risks. On the one hand, the Court might overstretch its judicial function and transgress the lines drawn by the separation of powers. This might lead to the more general question: Should courts unilaterally decide on the shape and form of a community’s foundational values? On the other hand, constitutional pluralism, tolerance and the federal balance are at stake. In order to secure the EU’s federal balance, the effects of Article 2 TEU with regard to the Member States need to be restrained as far as possible.

PhD candidate



  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: Defending Union Values in Judicial Proceedings. On How to Turn Article 2 TEU into a Judicially Applicable Provision. In: Defending Checks and Balances in EU Member States, Armin von Bogdandy et al. (ed.). Springer, Berlin 2021, 237-268. Springer (Open Access)
  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: Werteverteidigung im Binnenmarkt? Das ungarische Transparenzgesetz auf dem Prüfstand des EuGH. In: EuZW 31, 854-858 (2020). EuZW
  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: Framing and managing constitutional identity conflicts: On how to stabilize the modus vivendi between the Court of Justice and national constitutional courts. In: Common Market Law Review 57, 361-398 (2020). CML Rev.
  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: Breathing Life into the Union’s Common Values: On the Judicial Application of Article 2 TEU in the EU Value Crisis. In: German Law Journal 20, 1182-1213 (2019). GLJ (Open Access)
  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios, Armin von Bogdandy: Countering the Judicial Silencing of Critics: Article 2 TEU Values, Reverse Solange, and the Responsibilities of National Judges. In: European Constitutional Law Review 15, 391-426 (2019). EuConst (Open Access)
  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: From Moral Values to Legal Obligations – On How to Activate the Union’s Common Values in the EU Rule of Law Crisis. MPIL Research Paper No. 24, 2018. SSRN
  • Blogposts

  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: The Court gives with one hand and takes away with the other: The CJEU’s judgment in Miasto Łowicz. Verfassungsblog, 26. März 2020. Verfassungsblog
  • Spieker, Luke Dimitrios: Commission v. Poland – A Stepping Stone Towards a Strong “Union of Values”?. Verfassungsblog, 30 May 2019. Verfassungsblog


References to Article 2 TEU & Article 6 TEU-Amsterdam/Nice in the CJEU's case law

Table 1 (PDF, 273.3 KB)

References to "democracy" in the CJEU's case law

Table 2 (PDF, 251.8 KB)

References to the "rule of law" in the CJEU's case law

Table 3 (PDF, 244.5 KB)