Jan-Werner Müller

Where Europe Ends - Hungary, Brussels and the Fate of Liberal Democracy

(German title: Wo Europa endet)
ca. 79 pages
Jan-Werner Müller
Foto: Jan-Werner Müller
© Nelson Lopez

Jan-Werner Müller, born 1970, is Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University.


Selected Backlist:

Constitutional Patriotism (2007) (Princeton UP) Translations: Chinese simplex rights (San Hui), Korea (Greenbee), Serbia (Fabrika knjiga)

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Italy (Beit)


»As far as democracy and the rule of law are concerned, Europe shouldn’t leave anything to chance.«

Could there be a dictatorship within the European Union? Just a few years ago such a question would have been dismissed as a fanciful thought experiment for political scientists. But in light of the dramatic developments in EU member states such as Romania and Hungary, we are now forced to confront a scenario that has never been openly discussed in Brussels: namely that the processes of democratisation in these (relatively) recent members of the EU might in fact prove to be reversible.

But it’s not only the youngest EU member states that are the problem children of the European family. Not least in the context of the euro crisis, other EU countries have also been showing signs of illiberal tendencies.
Against this background the question arises: what can Brussels do – what is it allowed to do? Does the EU have to act as a defender of democracy and save the people of Europe from themselves, so to speak (or at least from their governments)?

Jan-Werner Müller argues that the EU is in principle justified in intervening in the affairs of its member states in order to protect national democracy. But what shape could such an intervention take and does the EU even have the tools necessary to stand up to national governments?

Where Europe Ends explains the background for the situation in Hungary and on the basis of this example develops robust criteria for intervention in defence of democracy. But absent a redistribution of political authority in Europe it is unlikely that a solution can be found either to Brussels’ lack of legitimacy as a defender of democracy or to the euro crisis.

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