Matteo Bonelli

Winner Dissertation Prize 2020

A Union of Values. Safeguarding Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights in the EU Member States.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. Monica Claes & Prof. dr. Bruno de Witte
Nomination: Maastricht University, Faculty of Law

Report by the selection committee

In recent years much attention has been paid in the EU to the authoritarian trends in Member States. The consensus on issues such as the rule of law and independence of the judiciary seems to be disappearing and this is affecting the very foundation of European cooperation. This research was conducted during this turbulent period: it started in 2014 and was defended in June 2019. The thesis offers a thorough analysis of a very relevant topic. 

At the heart of this research is a clear legal analysis of the standards at stake and the procedural possibilities available to the EU to protect those standards. But the author also takes the political reality and the historical and cultural context in the countries involved into account. It is admirable how he kept his course while political and legal developments occurred in quick succession during the period in which he conducted his research. In the view of the jury, the book is well written, the conclusions nuanced and the policy recommendations realistic.