The CJEU and the permanence of the Copenhagen criteria

In response to the systemic attacks to the independence of the judiciary in some EU member states, coupled with challenges to the primacy of EU law, the CJEU has operationalized the values enshrined in article 2 TEU. In particular, the Court recently held in the Conditionality judgment of 16 February 2022 that the EU “must be able to defend the common values on which the Union is founded” within the remit of its competences.
With this judgement, it is argued that the CJEU acted as a constitutional court, as it provided meaning to the concept of European constitutional identity. Among other consequences, it is possible to underline two key aspects. On the one hand, the EU constitutional identity imposes a permanent obligation on EU member states, as they must respect EU values at all times. On the other hand, it confirms that the EU is not a neutral actor in this sense, but that it must proactively ensure respect for these values.