Fundamental Constitutional Principles

Quick Facts

Type: Feasibility Study
Adopted: CD 2020/8
Period: February 2020
–24 July 2020


  • Sir Francis Jacobs
  • Sir Jeffrey Jowell
  • Takis Tridimas


The purpose of this feasibility study is to outline the basic principles which form the foundations of a European liberal democratic State. It will be assumed that such a State is based on majority rule but constrained by fundamental rights resulting from respect for the rule of law and also principles of legal and political accountability. The study intends to lead to a project on the formulation of those principles, identifying their content and providing guidance to public authorities, the courts, and citizens. The study has both a descriptive and a prescriptive character. On the one hand, based on the constitutional values of European countries, it will seek to outline the basic tenets of the rule of law as understood in European liberal democracies. On the other hand, it will seek to outline standards to be observed by those countries. The outcome of the eventual project will thus be a statement of principles and also an aide to the users of the law, eg courts. It will contribute to the public debate on the core constitutional values of Europe. It will also provide practical standards. These may cover, for example, standards for clarity and certainty in drafting legislation, the need to ensure timely adjudication and avoid the excessive length of proceedings, criteria for judicial independence, and the need for clear legislative mandates for administrative rulemaking and action. It will also provide specific guidance on the application of selected fundamental rights.