Legalism in the European Rule of Law Crisis

The objective of my paper is to reflect on the legalism of the projects of European integration through the EU and the ECHR in light of its rule of law crisis. I understand legalism as the belief that political conflicts can and ought to be resolved in accordance with legal rules and institutions. The paper makes a descriptive contribution: it sheds light on what the crisis tells us about the beliefs and attitudes of the actors involved in the crisis. It focuses both on the actions of Polish and Hungarian institutions and on the reactions of European institutions, from the ECtHR and CJEU to the Venice Commission, and what they can tell us about their attitudes and beliefs toward the law. The second part of the paper aims to take stock of the project of legalist governance in Europe. Is legalism capable of resisting democratic backsliding in Europe or does the crisis signal the exhaustion of legalism? And what does the rule of law crisis teach us about the state of legalism in Europe?