The justices of the Constitutional Court participated in the international conference in Riga
On 2–3 September, in Riga (the Republic of Latvia), the President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, and Justice Gintaras Goda participated in the international conference “EUnited in diversity: between common constitutional traditions and national identities”, which was organised by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia.
The CJEU safeguards the uniform interpretation and application of EU law in the Member States. National constitutional courts defend national constitutional values within their respective national legal orders and are entrusted with protecting and consolidating national identities. That role is explicitly recognised by the EU Treaties themselves. Article 4(2) TEU provides that the “Union shall respect the equality of Member States before the Treaties as well as their national identities, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, inclusive of regional and local self-government”. The organisers of the conference raised the question whether national diversity would remain in the field of the protection of fundamental rights. When should national diversity be set aside in favour of EU unity? Conversely, when should EU law allow room for national diversity? Since the protection of fundamental rights remains an essential function of constitutional courts, how should they balance the unity and diversity dimensions?
The participants of the conference discussed the constitutional traditions common to the EU Member States, the aspects of the protection of fundamental rights at national and international levels, the competence of national constitutional courts and international courts in protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms, and limitations on their exercise in different countries. The President of the Constitutional Court, Danutė Jočienė, gave an introductory speech and chaired the discussion in the panel of the conference on the relationship between the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and national constitutions, the scope of the application of fundamental human rights and freedoms, as well as on the different levels of competence of judicial institutions for the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The conference was attended by Koen Lenaerts, the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the judges of this court, as well as the presidents and justices of the constitutional courts of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain.