Justice, Legitimacy, and the Authority of Legislation within the European Union

What are we to make of the authority of the EU legislature? EU lawyers have questioned the significance of legislative decision-making. This article challenges these views and argues that the EU legislature must enjoy adequate freedom to shape EU law with the general interest in mind. Institutional accounts that seek to curtail the authority of legislation tend to rest upon ‘content-dependent’ conceptions of political legitimacy, according to which the legitimacy of a decision depends on its moral qualities. Such conceptions overlook reasonable disagreements on justice and rest upon an overly optimistic (pessimistic) view of the Court (the legislature). The article argues for a content-independent conception of legitimacy, which speaks in favour of the EU legislature. The authority of legislation deserves wider recognition among EU lawyers for reasons of political legitimacy and because the EU legislature is better positioned to decide in the general interest.