Fundamental Constitutional Principles

ELI Members who are interested in actively contributing to the development of this project are invited to join the project's Members Consultative Committee (MCC). Kindly contact the ELI Secretariat if you would like to join the MCC of this project or if you have any questions concerning the project.

Quick Facts

Project Type: Statement of principles
Procedure: Regular
Adopted: CD 2020/21
Project Period: February 2021– February 2023


The purpose of this project is to identify and articulate the fundamental constitutional 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 is constrained by the obligation to respect the rule of law, including fundamental human rights. The project will cover the following principles, among others: democracy; the rule of law; the separation of powers; the right to judicial protection, including judicial independence and judicial control (eg judicial review); accountability, including ministerial responsibility; fundamental rights as a component of the liberal democratic state.

The principles proposed will operate at a level of abstraction, which is inherent in their nature as fundamental constitutional principles. It is also necessitated by the nature of the study, which is intended to have pan-European appeal.


The aim of this project is to formulate fundamental constitutional principles, identify their content, and provide guidance to public authorities, the courts, and citizens. The project will seek to outline the basic tenets of the rule of law as understood in European liberal democracies as well as standards to be observed by those countries.


The intended outcome of the project will be a statement of principles that seek to encapsulate contemporary European constitutionalism. It will have a practical value in that it will serve as a reminder of constitutional fundamentals and governance ethos. It will also attempt to provide a value framework within which to assess contemporary pan-European concerns, such as constraints to decision-making at times of emergency, threats posed to democracy by internet platforms and fake news; data protection and privacy; and the desirability of applying constitutional standards, such as fundamental rights, to private actors.

Events, Publications and Other Activities

For an overview of past and upcoming events of this project, please click here.

Project Chairs

  • Sir Francis Geoffrey Jacobs KCMG QC
  • Sir Jeffrey Jowell KCMG QC

Project Reporters

  • Elise Muir
  • Takis Tridimas

Project Team Members

  • Piotr Bogdanowicz
  • Alina Carrozzini (Project Assistant)
  • Paul Craig
  • Jörg Fedtke
  • Giulia Gentile (Project Assistant)
  • Oliver Gerstenberg
  • Gábor Halmai
  • Theodore Konstadinides
  • Luigi Lonardo (Project Assistant)
  • Andras Sajo
  • Napoleon Xanthoulis (Project Assistant)

Advisory Committee Members

  • Armin von Bogdandy
  • Mario Comba
  • Pavlos Elefteriadis
  • Bénédicte Fauvarque-Cosson (Assessor)
  • Rostane Mehdi
  • Laurent Pech
  • Denis Philippe (Assessor)
  • Kim Scheppele
  • Jessica Simor QC
  • Lord John Thomas (Assessor)
  • Kaius Tuori (Assessor)

Members Consultative Committee

  • American Constitutional Society (represented by Zinelle October)
  • Centre for Legal Research, University of Porto (represented by Anabela Costa Leão)
  • Adriana Ciancio
  • Irina Dikovska
  • Mustapha Ebaid
  • Eloise Ellis
  • Ece Göztepe
  • Herbert Küpper
  • Oliver Mader
  • Manolis Perakis
  • Paola Regina
  • Domenico Rosani
  • Eleanor Spaventa
  • Matthias Storme (Chair)
  • Gonzalo Villalta Puig
  • Irina Zlătescu


  • The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) (represented by Ms Carolyn Hammer and Mr Ghenadie Barba)