CIEEL, in the context of its main objective, which is the promotion of academic research, runs an annual research project (January 2020 – January 2021) funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. For that purpose, it selected a group of researchers participating in the project under the title:

“MUTUAL TRUST IN TIMES OF CRISIS OF EU VALUES – State of play and possible next steps”.

The subject of the research is the topical and burning issue of mutual trust in the EU. The principle of mutual trust is a precondition for mutual recognition, since it furthers judicial cooperation albeit substantive and procedural differences between the legal systems of the Member States. However, the EU is facing a crisis of values which reveals deep divergence between the Member States over the understanding of its fundamental values. The last decade has been a decade of multiple external and internal crises, starting from the economic and refugee crisis, proceeding to the leading political crisis provoked by Brexit and culminating in the crisis of the rule of law starring Poland and Hungary, as well as Romania and Bulgaria.
The systemic violation of the principles enshrined in Article 2 TEU by some Member States has inevitably resulted in the erosion of mutual trust between them. The evident crisis of the rule of law in certain Member States and the subsequent discussion regarding the limits of mutual trust have attracted the increased attention of academics, political decision-makers and the media at a national, european and international level. Against the abovementioned backdrop, the EU strives to redefine its role and respond accordingly.
The research team, under the supervision of Virginia Tzortzi, Secretary of the CIEEL and Assistant Professor of EU Law at the Law School of the Democritus University of Thrace, addresses the question of challenging mutual trust between the Member States and the relevant issues related, inter alia, to aspects of the rule of law, respect of fundamental rights, independence and the role of national courts.
On a practical level, the purpose of the research project is to evaluate the recent legislative reforms in neighbouring Bulgaria and Romania as far as the organization of the judiciary and the guarantees for judicial independence are concerned. The tool that will be used is an online questionnaire, to which judges, university professors, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal practitioners from both countries will be asked to respond, providing, thus, measurable elements for a more comprehensive approach to the practical implications of the rule of law crisis in these countries. The research also includes interviews with distinguished Professors.
The research team consists of Elli Tsitsipa and Maria Sapardani (PhD candidates at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Research Associates of the CIEEL) and Konstantina-Antigoni Poulou (PhD candidate at the University of Heidelberg, Germany).
The research will be submitted, upon its completion, for evaluation (peer review) to an international panel of legal experts, consisted of distinguished Professors and Judges. The members of the peer review panel are: Vassilios SKOURIS, Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Law (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), Former President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Chair of the Board of the CIEEL, Antonio TIZZANO, Professor at La Sapienza University (Rome), Former Vice-President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and Jörn Axel KÄMMERER, Professor at Bucerius Law School (Hamburg).
The project will be completed in January 2021 with the publication of a book by the publishing house “SAKKOULAS” and the organisation of a seminar for the presentation of the research and its results.