Elisabeth Aronsson

Common European Values, Lost in Translation or Pulp Fiction?

The idea of common European values started off in post-war times as political and moral concepts, and the common European values rely on a normative translation into domestic law for full effect. The Swedish and Spanish constitutions both implement values and in addition, both countries acknowledge several values as general principles of law.

The normative translation and interpretation of values into domestic law vary due to different underlying cultural, political, and societal traditions of particular legal systems. The values’ impact on and level of protection in a legal system also differ for the same reason. The recent passage of the Spanish Citizens’ Security Law made this obvious and its critics named it la Ley Mordaza (the ‘Gag Law’) because it challenges the notion of a common value of freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of assembly. It is hard to imagine a Swedish court enforcing a Spanish conviction under la Ley Mordaza since it would contravene ordre public and the values of freedom of speech, information and assembly protected under the Swedish constitution.

This raises questions whether the concept of common European values is only pulp fiction or if the common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law, as stated in paragraph 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights, has gotten lost in translation?


Elisabeth Aronsson, Profesora de Derecho Comparado y Filosofía de Derecho

  • 2015