Justice in a time of crisis: the role of European courts as guardians of democracy


  • Alessandra Silveira University of Minho
  • Sophie Perez Fernandes University of Minho




crisis, courts, democracy, fundamental rights, citizenship of rights


Examining some recent examples from the Court of Justice of the European Union case law, this article intends to unravel the direction to which the European courts turn towards in times of crisis. The fiscal restraint and socioeconomic restructuring dictated by considerations of public debt reduction affect the daily lives of European citizens. However, the crisis and the austerity measures framed by Union law follow the new visibility that fundamental rights assumed in the integration process with the entry into force of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Therefore, in accordance to the moto proclaimed by Cunha Rodrigues, the crisis highlights the role of jurists and, in particular, the judges while guardians of democracy – understood as the safe exercise of fundamental rights. This paper therefore considers the transformative potential of the current crisis and its implications on the deepening of citizenship rights in the European Union.


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How to Cite

Silveira, A., & Fernandes, S. P. (2019). Justice in a time of crisis: the role of European courts as guardians of democracy. UNIO – EU Law Journal, 11–37. https://doi.org/10.21814/unio.0.4

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