“Systemic democratic backsliding”: reflections on recent experience in the European Union

The integration processes is dealing with many paradoxes. The topic of my presentation focus on two such paradoxes:
1. The Union has strong mechanisms to guarantee the rule of law vis-à-vis states which are applying for accession, but it loses them after accession.
2. Union law is autonomous on national and international terms – we know – but the Union does not have its own, exclusive executive organs. It must cooperate with the Member States. And Member States are both the engine and the brake of integration.

The EU has powerful weapons available to it when dealing with threats to the rule of law found in candidate countries. However, its options are not so impressive when dealing with existing Member States. This problem demonstrates the problem and paradox of “democratic backsliding” which has been noted in a number of Member The situation in Poland is the most multifaceted example and it has enormous potential for “systemic democratic backsliding”.