Independence Without Accountability: The Harmful Consequences of EU Policy Toward Central and Eastern European Entrants

James E. Moliterno, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Lucia Berdisová, University of Trnava Faculty of Law, Slovakia
Peter Čuroš, University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik Faculty of Law, Slovakia
Ján Mazúr, Comenius University Faculty of Law, Slovakia


In the name of judicial independence, a concept whose name is nearly magical in its capacity to draw reflexive devotion, the European Union (“the Union”) and Council of Europe have used their bargaining power to impose nearly uniform structural systems on the most recent entrants with little regard for their own individual legal cultures and social conditions. This strategy ignores the reality that nations with the most successful systems of judicial independence, including those of “old Europe,” reached their own judicial independence equilibrium points by their own individual paths, some of which are not remotely similar to the others. Nonetheless, all have had success with judicial independence. Imposing lock-step systems has had unfortunate results on some of the new members of the Union. Much can be learned as the Union considers its relationships with membership aspirants, such as Ukraine and others.