The Function of the Concept of the Autonomy of the EU Legal Order in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice

A lot has been written about the concept of the autonomy of the EU legal order. This presentation will focus on the inner dimension of autonomy, i.e., the relationship between the EU and national legal orders. I argue that this inner autonomy of EU law is not operationalized to solve the case at hand, but mostly functions as a supporting argument for rules leading to the outcome of the case, such as primacy or the requirements of the preliminary reference mechanism. A contextual reading of these cases reveals that they often react to threats to fundamental tenets of EU law originating in the Member States. In those cases, autonomy is typically used to protect the functioning and integrity of the EU’s composite legal system. Autonomy’s function is therefore to flag and to communicate red lines, operating as a functional equivalent to national constitutional identity claims. The presentation will exemplify this by looking at recent cases on the rule of law crises in Poland and Romania.