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See detailThe right to good administration at the crossroads of the different sources of fundamental rights in the EU integrated administrative system
Mihaescu, Bucura Catalina UL

Doctoral thesis (2014)

The right to good administration as it stands today is both a general principle of EU law (hereafter GPL) and a fundamental right codified in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The present ... [more ▼]

The right to good administration as it stands today is both a general principle of EU law (hereafter GPL) and a fundamental right codified in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The present contribution provides the case study of good administration at the confluence of these two vectors of protection and highlights that there are instances where, even in relation to what might appear to be the same right, there are overlaps and sometimes clear differences as regards its content and level of protection according to its interpretation as a GPL or a CFR right. This study points out that the divergences stemming from the interplay of these two fundamental rights’ sources may, in certain instances, take the form of actual or potential conflicts, giving rise to inevitable “gaps” in protection. This makes the insurance of individuals’ rights dependent on the level of protection conferred by the source which is held to prevail, leading therefore to many inconsistencies and deficiencies from the standpoint of the rule of law. Having been conducted within a context marked by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty which - by giving binding legal force to the CFR, added a supplementary layer to the already existing “symphony of sources” – this study is a contribution to the debate on the difficult coexistence of the multiple sources of fundamental rights in the EU legal system. The reality of this coexistence gives rise to a large number of questions: How should one order the plurality of sources of law?” How do the various layers of protection interact? What is the relation between them in case of conflict? Are there instances where the outcome of a case is likely to be different depending on the invocation of a certain source of law rather than another; in other words, are there any existing or potential “gaps” in protection? If so, how may such gaps be filled up? Which source is to be relied on in priority, is there a hierarchy among them? Which would be the impact of such a hierarchical order of review with regard to individuals’ protection? Is there any room in the EU legal order for an alternative model of review, capable of supplementing the hierarchical approach? Which alternative model would be the most suited in order to confer an adequate and coherent protection of individuals’ fundamental rights? Assessed with regards to the more particular example of the right to good administration, these interrogations frame the main question of this study: Does the codification of the right to good administration in Article 41 CFR usurp the broader protection provided by the EU Courts under the GPL status of the notion? In other words, may the general principle of good administration take over where the scope of protection of the Charter’s right to good administration ends? The present contribution will highlight that the scope of protection of the right to good administration and of the various procedural rights codified under its “umbrella” in Article 41 CFR is defined in a significantly more restricted manner than their protection as general principles of EU law, being therefore likely to lead to multiple “gaps” in protection. Having in view the important practical need to ensure a “consistent” compliance with individuals’ fundamental rights - inter alia the right to good administration -, this study will argue for a dynamic approach of interpretation of sources, for a “pluralistic” – as opposed to a “hierarchical” – understanding of the relationship between the various layers of protection in the EU legal order, which will be called the “lexical order of review” . This approach – which implies a continuing reliance on the GPL vector of protection - is the best suited to confirm the seriousness of the EU commitment to fundamental rights . Besides this main purpose of assessing the principles of good administration at the confluence of their various sources, the present study further seeks to put forward the real interest and vast potential of the right to good administration in the EU legal order and especially in the context of “composite” administrative proceedings . With this objective in mind, the general introductory part of this study will be devoted to the analysis of the recognition, development, content and scope of application of the general principle of good administration. Such an overview is indispensable in order to highlight the real potential of this principle. This contribution further seeks to supply an answer to those who still question the need of a right to good administration in the EU legal order . In this regard, without denying that the right to good administration does not have an independent judicial life of its own – but merely exists via its sub-components which are now listed in Article 41 CFR - this study will demonstrate that the gathering of those principles under the “umbrella” of the right to good administration is likely to have vast potential for the protection of individuals in the EU administrative space. First, the present contribution suggests that by assimilating individuals’ rights during the administrative procedures to those enjoyed in judicial proceedings, the right to good administration leads to a sort of “judicialisation” of the administration , being capable of ensuring procedural justice, public administrative adherence to the rule of law and sound outcomes for administrative procedures. It is commonly agreed in this regard that adequate protection of procedural rights at the administrative level may have a positive impact for both individuals and the good functioning of the EU system as a whole; as prevention is better than cure, so good administration is better than remedies for bad administration . In this vein, although a remedy is normally available at the judicial level, on multiple occasions, the solution arrives too late to prevent harmful consequences for the individual concerned. Such a risk may be “prevented” by a proper protection of individuals’ rights at the administrative level. On the other hand, the achievement of sound administrative decisions in which individuals’ procedural rights are complied with may necessarily have a positive impact in terms of the proper functioning of the EU judicial apparatus in that it is likely to significantly decrease the workload of the EU Courts . In this way, the principle of good administration may be useful for the good administration of justice . Second, this study will demonstrate that since the landmark TUM decision , the right to good administration has established a “bridge” between the discretionary powers of the EU administrative authorities and the protection of individuals in administrative proceedings. The principle of good administration appears to act as a counterweight to the discretionary powers of the administrative players in that it induces the latter, when adopting decisions within their important powers of appraisal, to take the rights of individuals into account. In this way, both the “objective” and “subjective” rationales of the principle of good administration - namely the efficiency and rationality of the administration, on the one hand and individuals’ procedural protection, on the other hand, – are concomitantly complied with . Third, this contribution further seeks to highlight the potentiality of the right to good administration to fill the “gaps” of individual protection and to solve problems of legitimacy in the reality of the dynamically developing EU “integrated” administrative system – also known as “composite” administrative procedures - where decisions are taken with inputs from both national and EU administrative authorities, each using different procedural rules. The present study will illustrate that the “composite” nature of the right to good administration, by the strength stemming from the interaction of its sub-elements renders this “umbrella” right capable of ensuring the protection of individuals’ procedural rights within such “composite” administrative procedures . Consequently, the right to good administration may be held to constitute the key element of the integrated administrative system, the individual’s “ticket” for the protection of his procedural rights in the context of multi-level proceedings. Finally, this study will highlight that the right to good administration has vast potential in becoming a “trust-enhancing principle” and in bringing citizens closer to the EU institutions . Indeed, by placing the individual at the center of preoccupations of the EU administration, by seeking to ensure the fairness of the administration and the corresponding adequate procedural protection of individuals, the right to good administration is likely to become a key element in ensuring citizens’ trust in the EU institutions and in improving the latters’ legitimacy . It is probably this “trust” rationale of the right to good administration which has determined the enhanced procedural protection of “interested third parties” in certain administrative proceedings . Indeed, in some instances, the EU Courts overstepped the formal conception of the strict standing rules , in order to give primacy to the procedural protection of interested third parties . It is therefore not excluded that in the long run, the right to good administration become the privileged instrument for the protection of interested third parties in administrative proceedings. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Relation between the Charter’s Fundamental Rights and the Unwritten General Principles of Law – Good Administration as the Test-Case
Mihaescu, Bucura Catalina UL

in European Constitutional Law Review - Cambridge Journals Online (2013)

The right to good administration as it stands today is both a general principle of EU law (hereafter GPL) and a fundamental right codified in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The present ... [more ▼]

The right to good administration as it stands today is both a general principle of EU law (hereafter GPL) and a fundamental right codified in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The present contribution provides the case study of good administration at the confluence of these two vectors of protection and highlights that there are instances where, even in relation to what might appear to be the same right, there are overlaps and sometimes clear differences as regards its content and level of protection according to its interpretation as a GPL or a CFR right. This study points out that the divergences stemming from the interplay of these two fundamental rights’ sources may, in certain instances, take the form of actual or potential conflicts, giving rise to inevitable “gaps” in protection. This makes the insurance of individuals’ rights dependent on the level of protection conferred by the source which is held to prevail, leading therefore to many inconsistencies and deficiencies from the standpoint of the rule of law. Having been conducted within a context marked by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty which - by giving binding legal force to the CFR, added a supplementary layer to the already existing “symphony of sources” – this study is a contribution to the debate on the difficult coexistence of the multiple sources of fundamental rights in the EU legal system. The reality of this coexistence gives rise to a large number of questions: How should one order the plurality of sources of law?” How do the various layers of protection interact? What is the relation between them in case of conflict? Are there instances where the outcome of a case is likely to be different depending on the invocation of a certain source of law rather than another; in other words, are there any existing or potential “gaps” in protection? If so, how may such gaps be filled up? Which source is to be relied on in priority, is there a hierarchy among them? Which would be the impact of such a hierarchical order of review with regard to individuals’ protection? Is there any room in the EU legal order for an alternative model of review, capable of supplementing the hierarchical approach? Which alternative model would be the most suited in order to confer an adequate and coherent protection of individuals’ fundamental rights? Assessed with regards to the more particular example of the right to good administration, these interrogations frame the main question of this study: Does the codification of the right to good administration in Article 41 CFR usurp the broader protection provided by the EU Courts under the GPL status of the notion? In other words, may the general principle of good administration take over where the scope of protection of the Charter’s right to good administration ends? The present contribution will highlight that the scope of protection of the right to good administration and of the various procedural rights codified under its “umbrella” in Article 41 CFR is defined in a significantly more restricted manner than their protection as general principles of EU law, being therefore likely to lead to multiple “gaps” in protection. Having in view the important practical need to ensure a “consistent” compliance with individuals’ fundamental rights - inter alia the right to good administration -, this study will argue for a dynamic approach of interpretation of sources, for a “pluralistic” – as opposed to a “hierarchical” – understanding of the relationship between the various layers of protection in the EU legal order, which will be called the “lexical order of review” . This approach – which implies a continuing reliance on the GPL vector of protection - is the best suited to confirm the seriousness of the EU commitment to fundamental rights . Besides this main purpose of assessing the principles of good administration at the confluence of their various sources, the present study further seeks to put forward the real interest and vast potential of the right to good administration in the EU legal order and especially in the context of “composite” administrative proceedings . With this objective in mind, the general introductory part of this study will be devoted to the analysis of the recognition, development, content and scope of application of the general principle of good administration. Such an overview is indispensable in order to highlight the real potential of this principle. This contribution further seeks to supply an answer to those who still question the need of a right to good administration in the EU legal order . In this regard, without denying that the right to good administration does not have an independent judicial life of its own – but merely exists via its sub-components which are now listed in Article 41 CFR - this study will demonstrate that the gathering of those principles under the “umbrella” of the right to good administration is likely to have vast potential for the protection of individuals in the EU administrative space. First, the present contribution suggests that by assimilating individuals’ rights during the administrative procedures to those enjoyed in judicial proceedings, the right to good administration leads to a sort of “judicialisation” of the administration , being capable of ensuring procedural justice, public administrative adherence to the rule of law and sound outcomes for administrative procedures. It is commonly agreed in this regard that adequate protection of procedural rights at the administrative level may have a positive impact for both individuals and the good functioning of the EU system as a whole; as prevention is better than cure, so good administration is better than remedies for bad administration . In this vein, although a remedy is normally available at the judicial level, on multiple occasions, the solution arrives too late to prevent harmful consequences for the individual concerned. Such a risk may be “prevented” by a proper protection of individuals’ rights at the administrative level. On the other hand, the achievement of sound administrative decisions in which individuals’ procedural rights are complied with may necessarily have a positive impact in terms of the proper functioning of the EU judicial apparatus in that it is likely to significantly decrease the workload of the EU Courts . In this way, the principle of good administration may be useful for the good administration of justice . Second, this study will demonstrate that since the landmark TUM decision , the right to good administration has established a “bridge” between the discretionary powers of the EU administrative authorities and the protection of individuals in administrative proceedings. The principle of good administration appears to act as a counterweight to the discretionary powers of the administrative players in that it induces the latter, when adopting decisions within their important powers of appraisal, to take the rights of individuals into account. In this way, both the “objective” and “subjective” rationales of the principle of good administration - namely the efficiency and rationality of the administration, on the one hand and individuals’ procedural protection, on the other hand, – are concomitantly complied with . Third, this contribution further seeks to highlight the potentiality of the right to good administration to fill the “gaps” of individual protection and to solve problems of legitimacy in the reality of the dynamically developing EU “integrated” administrative system – also known as “composite” administrative procedures - where decisions are taken with inputs from both national and EU administrative authorities, each using different procedural rules. The present study will illustrate that the “composite” nature of the right to good administration, by the strength stemming from the interaction of its sub-elements renders this “umbrella” right capable of ensuring the protection of individuals’ procedural rights within such “composite” administrative procedures . Consequently, the right to good administration may be held to constitute the key element of the integrated administrative system, the individual’s “ticket” for the protection of his procedural rights in the context of multi-level proceedings. Finally, this study will highlight that the right to good administration has vast potential in becoming a “trust-enhancing principle” and in bringing citizens closer to the EU institutions . Indeed, by placing the individual at the center of preoccupations of the EU administration, by seeking to ensure the fairness of the administration and the corresponding adequate procedural protection of individuals, the right to good administration is likely to become a key element in ensuring citizens’ trust in the EU institutions and in improving the latters’ legitimacy . It is probably this “trust” rationale of the right to good administration which has determined the enhanced procedural protection of “interested third parties” in certain administrative proceedings . Indeed, in some instances, the EU Courts overstepped the formal conception of the strict standing rules , in order to give primacy to the procedural protection of interested third parties . It is therefore not excluded that in the long run, the right to good administration become the privileged instrument for the protection of interested third parties in administrative proceedings. [less ▲]

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See detailTableau comparatif des droits fondamentaux tels qu’ils sont reconnus dans la CEDH et dans l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne
Mihaescu, Bucura Catalina UL

in Romanian Journal of European Law (2012)

Depuis l’entrée en vigueur du Traité de Lisbonne, la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne (la Charte) a acquis force juridique obligatoire ayant, conformément à l’article 6, paragraphe 1 ... [more ▼]

Depuis l’entrée en vigueur du Traité de Lisbonne, la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne (la Charte) a acquis force juridique obligatoire ayant, conformément à l’article 6, paragraphe 1 TUE, « la même valeur juridique que les traités ». Il lui est ainsi attribué le statut de « source primaire » des droits fondamentaux dans l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne. Considérée par certains comme étant un véritable “Bill of rights” de l’Union européenne, elle se rajoute et supplémente à certains égards la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme , jusqu’alors le seule véritable catalogue des droits fondamentaux dans l’ordre juridique européen. Toutefois, bien que l’Union européenne vienne que récemment de se revêtir d’un tel catalogue , la protection des droits fondamentaux à l’ échelon de l’Union a été incontestablement assurée par la Cour de justice depuis plus de trois décennies via le vecteur des « Principes Généraux du Droit » (PGD) et son homologue strasbourgeois n’a pas hésité à constater et reconnaître la validité d’une véritable présomption de « protection équivalente » des droits fondamentaux assurée par le juge de l’Union. Depuis que la Charte a acquis force juridique obligatoire, de nombreux débats, parfois très polémiques, ont vu le jour quant à sa place dans la « hiérarchie des normes » et surtout quant à son « champs d’application ». Pour ce qui est du premier débat, une partie de la doctrine estime que, en énumérant en trois paragraphes différents les sources des droits fondamentaux dans l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne, l’article 6 TUE procède, en réalité, à une hiérarchisation des sources, privilégiant ainsi la Charte des droits fondamentaux en tant que « norme de référence » . De l’autre côté, dans la mesure où l’Article 6 TUE renvoie explicitement aux principes généraux du droit, il n’y a pas de véritable raison de penser que la Cour de justice ne va plus y faire recours, au moins en tant que source «complémentaire » pour combler les éventuelles lacunes de la Charte . À mon sens, la référence aux principes généraux du droit a une importance primordiale, étant donné que ces derniers constituent un outil précieux et indispensable pour le juge de l'Union, qui lui permettra d'aller plus loin dans sa démarche protectrice, en interprétant les droits énumérés dans la Charte à la lumière des besoins effectifs d’une Union en continue évolution et, si cela s’avère nécessaire, en reconnaissant de nouveaux droits fondamentaux . Pour ce qui est du deuxième débat, il faut avant tout renvoyer à l’article 51 de la Charte , dont le premier paragraphe délimite le périmètre d’application de cette dernière, en indiquant que les dispositions de la Charte s’adressent aux institutions, organes et organismes de l’Union dans le respect du principe de subsidiarité, ainsi qu’aux États membres « uniquement lorsqu’ils mettent en œuvre le droit de l’Union ». Il est important de noter que la formule utilisée dans les Explications apportées par le Présidium de la Convention européenne à l’article 51 de la Charte est plus large que celle utilisée dans le corps de cet article, lesdites Explications renvoyant à l’obligation des Etats membres de respecter les droits fondamentaux définis dans le cadre de l'Union « lorsqu’ils agissent dans le champ d’application du droit de l’Union ». Par ailleurs, la jurisprudence à laquelle il est fait référence dans les Explications de l’article 51 va dans le sens d’une formule plus large que celle figurant à l’article 51. Ainsi, bien que dans l’arrêt de principe en la matière Wachauf , la Cour ait statué que les exigences découlant de la protection des droits fondamentaux dans l’ordre juridique communautaire lient les Etats membres lorsqu’ils mettent en œuvre des réglementations communautaires , dans l’arrêt ERT la Cour est allée plus loin, en indiquant que les Etats membres doivent également respecter les droits fondamentaux dont la Cour assure le respect, lorsqu’ils souhaitent bénéficier d’une dérogation aux libertés de circulation . Par ailleurs, la Cour a fait valoir qu’elle est compétente pour juger de la conformité d’une réglementation nationale avec les droits fondamentaux dont la Cour assure le respect, dès lors que la réglementation en question entre dans « le champ d’application du droit communautaire ». Cette dernière interprétation va bien au-delà de la simple mise en œuvre du droit de l’Union par les Etats membres, telle que prévue à l’article 51, paragraphe 1 de la Charte. Il s’avère ainsi difficile de concilier la formule restrictive de cet article avec l’approche, bien plus large, développée par la Cour de justice dans sa jurisprudence antérieure à l’entrée en vigueur de la Charte. L’association de l’UE des experts indépendants sur les droits fondamentaux fait valoir, quant à la formule de l’article 51 de la Charter, que: « Cette formule restrictive pourrait constituer simplement une restitution malhabile de la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice relative aux droits fondamentaux reconnus en tant que principes généraux de droit de l’Union. C’est ce que suggèrent les Explications du Présidium, qui évoquent la jurisprudence de la Cour dont il résulterait ‘sans ambiguïté’ que ‘l’obligation de respecter les droits fondamentaux définis dans le cadre de l’Union ne s’impose aux Etats membres que lorsqu’ils agissent dans le cadre du droit communautaire ou (dans la mise à jour des explications relatives à la Charte préparée dans le cadre de la Convention européenne) ‘dans le champ d’application du droit de l’Union’ ». Que ce soit une restitution malhabile ou une véritable intention restrictive de la part des rédacteurs de la Charte , cette formule a donné lieu à de nombreuses opinions divergentes tant dans la doctrine que parmi les membres même de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne et par ailleurs, étant donné que la Cour n’a pas encore été invitée à trancher de manière définitive cette question, la jurisprudence elle-même est fluctuante sur ce point. Dans le contexte d’une matière particulièrement bien fournie quant à la hiérarchie des normes ou encore le champ d’application de la Charte par rapport au périmètre d’application d’autres sources des droits - parmi lesquelles les principes généraux du droit dont les droits énumérés dans la CEDH font partie intégrante -, il est surprenant de remarquer que personne ne se soit délivré jusqu’à présent à faire une comparaison effective des droits fondamentaux, tels qu’ils sont protégés, d’un côté, dans l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne, et de l’autre côté, dans l’ordre juridique européen. En présence d’un vide juridique quant à une telle analyse comparative des droits fondamentaux tels qu’ils sont reconnus dans ces deux ordres juridiques respectifs et étant donné que nous sommes à la veille d’un événement majeur pour la protection des droits fondamentaux en Europe – l’adhésion de l’Union européenne à la CEDH - l’objet de ma démarche ci-dessous est de constituer un tableau comparatif des droits fondamentaux, tels qu’ils sont protégés d’une part, dans la CEDH et dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de Strasbourg et d’autre part, dans la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l’UE et via le vecteur des principes généraux du droit dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de Luxembourg. Mon analyse sera divisée en quatre parties. En prenant comme point de référence les Explications apportées à la Charte par le Présidium de la Convention européenne, les deux premières parties vont renvoyer, dans un premier temps, aux « Articles de la Charte dont le sens et la portée sont les mêmes que ceux des articles correspondants dans la CEDH » (I) et dans un deuxième temps, aux « Articles de la Charte dont le sens est le même que celui des articles correspondants dans la CEDH, mais dont la portée est plus étendue » (II). Les deux dernières parties vont en quelque sorte mettre en valeur la supériorité, du moins quantitative, de la protection des droits fondamentaux dans l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne par rapport à l’ordre juridique européen. Ainsi, la troisième partie sera consacrée aux « Articles de la Charte qui n’ont pas d’équivalent dans la CEDH » (III), pour finalement procéder à une analyse d’ « Autres droits qui ont été reconnus dans la jurisprudence de la Cour de justice de l’Union européenne, comme faisant partie intégrante des Principes Généraux du Droit, mais qui n’ont pas été repris dans la Charte et qui ne sont pas identifiés dans la CEDH ou les Protocoles additionnels à cette dernière » (IV). La conclusion implicite de la présente étude met en lumière la nécessité impérative pour le juge de l’Union de continuer à faire référence aux droits fondamentaux ainsi qu’ils découlent des principes généraux du droit afin, d’un côté, d’assurer une certaine continuité avec la jurisprudence antérieure à l’entrée en vigueur de la Charte et de l’autre côté, pour continuer à se munir d’un outil juridique tel que les PGD qui lui fournit la possibilité de recourir à une certaine flexibilité, indispensable dans un ordre juridique d’une extrême complexité et caractérisé d’une perpétuelle évolution, tel que l’ordre juridique de l’Union européenne. [less ▲]

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See detailLiability of the European Union for acts of its Institutions
Mihaescu, Bucura Catalina UL

in Romanian Journal of European Law (2011)

The following article will assess the real extent of the potential liability of the European Union. It will fi rstly focus on the recognition and the development by the EU Courts of the conditions which ... [more ▼]

The following article will assess the real extent of the potential liability of the European Union. It will fi rstly focus on the recognition and the development by the EU Courts of the conditions which must be fulfi lled in order for the EU to incur liability for the acts of its institutions. It will be emphasised in this regard that, as the EU Courts’ case-law currently stand, the criteria for Union liability can differ, depending on a number of variables including whether the contested acts of its institutions are lawful or unlawful, whether the issue concerns an administrative or a legislative misconduct and fi nally depending on the degree of discretion that the institutions enjoy. It will thus be pointed out that the Union liability is supposed to be incurred not only for illegal acts of its institutions, but also for their valid legal acts. It will be emphasised that the issue of Union liability for its Courts’ decisions has also been stressed in the case-law. Two further hypotheses of Union liability will be dealt, namely Union liability for acts of its civil servants in the performance of their duties and the liability of the Union for damage caused to EU offi cials. Keywords: EU liability; non-contractual liability; contractual liability; conditions of liability; EU Courts case-law [less ▲]

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