Towards General Principles 2.0: The Application of General Principles of EU Law in the Digital Society
32 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 22, 2019
Digital technologies have undoubtedly changed the outline of the organization of the modern society and indicated an emergence of the new era of its governance. Such manifestations of digitalization as social media, platform economy, big data, AI, fintech, blockchain and internet of things have become an integral and sometimes even unnoticeable part of our life having brought up, on the one hand, new solutions to the long-running problems (for example, an increased possibility of dismantling arbitrariness in decision-making processes originally carried out by humans) and, on the other hand, new unresolved challenges that pose questions to the suitability of the current legal framework regulating the digital society that is characterized by high level of flexibility and unpredictability of the results that is, however, underpinned by partially identifiable initial risks. The peculiarities of hi-tech solutions require refashioning existing modes of regulation that in its turn has a drastic impact on the edifice of EU law, including one of its cornerstones, namely the doctrine of general principles. The general principles of EU law have always been notable for their capacity of being swiftly responsive to the transformations occurring in the society and being better equipped for addressing the alterations inevitably affecting the constitutional foundations of the EU.
However, the multiple changes brought by the rise of the digital society may not only affect the application of the doctrine of general principles but also its very nature. Are the general principles flexible enough to adapt to this technological shift. Can one contend that the general principle of EU law are resilient? In this wrap-up Chapter inspired by the many contributions of this book, we will first assess the effects of the technological disruption on the doctrine of general principles (section 2). We will then study the resilience of the classical doctrine of general principles in the digital society (section 3). It is underlined that the doctrine of general principles faces important changes and that new types of general principles must be taken into consideration, the ‘general principles of EU law 2.0’ or ‘General Principles by Design’ (section 4). These changes also affect the architecture of the single market, with general principles needing to be harnessed not only to continue the establishment of a single market, but also to shape a new space, the infosphere, within which that market can operate. Can principles function as the iRule of Law that regulates that space? (section 5). We conclude on a cautiously optimistic note – general principles are able to play a role in European integration in the digital age, but it will be necessary to ensure that they become part of an architecture of ‘general principle’s by design’ which will allow us to remain in control of the technological developments and the new digital spaces which are being created.
Keywords: General Principles, EU law, European Union, Digitalization, iRule of Law, rule of law, codes, infosphere
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation