‘A Right to the Effective Access to Rights’: a Pleonasm?

Rights – whether substantive or procedural – are a mirage for some groups because administrative and practical obstacles turn the Rule of Law into a chimaera. I tackle this question by examining the existence of a right to the effective access to rights as a core element of the Rule of Law. If the principle of equality before the law and fundamental rights have been enshrined and implemented at EU and national levels, and widely recognised as part of the Rule of Law, one conundrum remains. Many people do not have access to the rights they are entitled to because of practical and administrative barriers. I argue that beyond the ‘right to have rights’, as masterfully theorised by Hannah Arendt concerning post-war stateless persons, the Rule of Law is not worthy of its name if it does not encompass a (proto-)right to the effective access to rights. In short, the right to have effective access to rights is not a pleonasm.