Mutual Recognition and Mutual Trust in the Internal Market

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The origins of “mutual trust” as a concept of EU law. – II.1. In Court of Justice case law. – II.2. In legislative documents. – III. Mutual trust v. mutual recognition. – III.1. Mutual recognition and mutual trust: meaning and relationship. – III.2. No obligation of blind mutual trust: conditions and limitations. – IV. Importance of the mutual trust principle for the internal market. – IV.1. Mutual trust in the internal market. – IV.2. Mutual trust as a constitutional principle.

Abstract: The principles of mutual trust and mutual recognition are often mentioned together, and sometimes even equated. This paper argues that they are distinct but interconnected principles and that mutual trust is the more fundamental of the two. On the one hand, the paper tries to shed more light on the origins, the meaning and scope of the principle of mutual trust, but also on its relationship with the principle of mutual recognition. On the other hand, it examines the importance of the mutual trust principle in the context of the internal market. It is argued that the elevation of the principle of mutual trust to a constitutional principle in recent Court of Justice case law regarding the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice can and should have a positive impact on the functioning of EU law in this field.

Keywords: mutual trust – mutual recognition – internal market – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – Court of Justice – constitutional principles of EU law.

European Papers, Vol. 2, 2017, No 1, pp. 93-115
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/142

* Legal Secretary, CJEU, Assistant Professor, University of Antwerp, and Senior Associated Research Fellow, Institute for European Law, University of Leuven,



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