The idea of justice in the EU legal setting has become a new lens for viewing the European enterprise and is as such largely inspired by the greater debate in political theory on how to imagine a just society. This talk explores the meaning and function of justice-oriented reasoning in the EU legal discourse by deconstructing it from a perspective of legitimacy and asking what justice can add to the debate on EU constitutionalism in the specific area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ). It will be argued that, despite the complicated relationship between the notions of justice and legitimacy, this linkage is closely associated in an EU context and thereby relevant to the bigger question of how the EU could, and should, become a just system, and that the key to understanding this synergetic relationship is to view justice as a European process.


Ester Herlin-Karnell is Professor of EU constitutional law and justice and a University Research Chair at VU University of Amsterdam. She is also the Co-Director of the VU Centre for European Legal Studies. She holds a DPhil in law from Somerville College, Oxford University as well as an LLM from King’s College London and a Jur Kand (LLM) from Stockholm University. She has previously worked as an associate lawyer and judge assistant in Sweden. Ester has recently been a visiting fellow at the European University Institute, Florence (spring 2013), as well as an Emile Noel Fellow at New York University, USA (fall 2013) and a senior Grotius scholar at Michigan University Law School, Ann Arbor (December 2013-March 2014) and a visiting fellow in the WZB Rule of Law Centre, Berlin (April-June 2014).