The Legal Foundation of the Emergency Powers in Europe

We have learned to live with the state of emergency or at least we are trying to do so. It matters little whether the emergency is due to a pandemic, terrorism, or some other natural disaster: when human lives are at stake, governments act under this threat using their emergency powers. However, resorting to emergency powers – namely granting the government extraordinary powers beyond its constitutional role – can lead to a suspension of the rule of law and undermine human rights. Arguably, every day, in every part of the world, everyone might be adversely affected by emergency measures.
In Europe, scholarship has hugely debated various aspects of emergency regulation, while the legal basis of emergency powers still surprisingly remains unexplored in the main.
In doing so, this article analyses the legal framework on the bases of emergency powers in Europe, focusing on the main international standards on human rights and on the relevant recommendations made by the Venice Commission.