Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. How is the principle of mutual trust applied? – III. What does the principle of mutual trust convey? – IV. The limits of the principle of mutual trust. – V. Final reflections.
Abstract: The principle of mutual trust is not mentioned in the Treaties, but nonetheless, it has become a structural principle of EU law. The present contribution, written from the perspective of ‘everyday judicial practice’, explores how this principle has been given shape in the case law of the Court of Justice. It addresses the scope of application of this principle, its meaning and the way in which this principle is applied in the context of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. The contribution argues that the principle of mutual trust is an essential point of departure for the sound operation of this Area. However, the principle of mutual trust is not ‘blind trust’; it is a presumption and like most presumptions, is not conclusive. There are a number of safety valves in the system of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice which are closely related to the protection of fundamental rights. The framing of these safety valves in a way that it will do justice to the principle of mutual trust is a matter of a delicate balance. The contribution concludes with a broader reflection on the potential significance of the principle of mutual trust as a structural principle of EU law which extends beyond the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.
Keywords: mutual trust – Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – meaning of the principle of mutual trust – application of the principle of mutual trust – protection of fundamental rights – principle of loyal cooperation.
* Judge at the CJEU, Honorary Professor of European Law, Europa Instituut, Utrecht University, email@example.com.