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National Identity and Market Freedoms after The
Treaty of Lisbon

25 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2012  

Sinisa Rodin

University of Zagreb - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 15, 2011


The aim of this paper is to explore the balance between market freedoms and national regulatory autonomy following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, particularly in the light of the rephrased national identity guarantee under Article 4(2) TEU.The paper will discuss whether the newly established obligation of the European Union to respect the national identities of its Member States has any consequences in the case law of the European Court of Justice. Arguably, defining the proper scope of application of the national identity guarantee is relevant to the application of EU law, since it disturbs the previously established balance between European and national law. If defined too broadly, it can undermine the uniform application and effectiveness of EU law. If defined too narrowly, it would be devoid of any useful effect. With this objective in mind, I will first clarify the concept of national identity and, more specifically, national constitutional identity.

Second, I will discuss the case law of the ECJ preceding the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. In this part, I will suggest that the development of national identity law before the Treaty of Lisbon went through three evolutionary phases: a phase of early and implicit national identity law; a phase in which the ECJ developed the margin of discretion doctrine; and a phase in which the ECJ started to differentiate national constitutional rules and accord them different levels of scrutiny.

In the third part, I will explore whether there have been significant developments in the national identity case law of the ECJ after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and suggest that the general approach of the ECJ has not significantly changed. I will also argue that the main developments related to Article 4(2) TEU have not taken place before the ECJ, but in national arenas, notably in France and Germany.

In the fourth and final part, I will return to the issue of the differentiation of national identity claims and conclude that one category is understood by the ECJ as an ordinary justification of national measures restricting one of the market freedoms, while the other category of claims prompts the ECJ to defer to national authorities.

Keywords: national identitiy, constitutional identity, Treaty of Lisbon

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Rodin, Sinisa, National Identity and Market Freedoms after The Treaty of Lisbon (November 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Sinisa Rodin (Contact Author)

University of Zagreb - Faculty of Law ( email )

Trg m. Tita 14
HR-10000 Zagreb, 10000

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