Fundamental Constitutional Principles

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Quick Facts

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

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