Rule of Law – L’état de droit

Rule of Law – L’état de droit


Rule of Law. This is a fairly common term when discussing
the governments making up the European Union. But what does the “rule of law”
truly mean for YOU as an EU citizen? Imagine you are the proud owner
of a thriving produce market. Business is booming, and one of your
best-selling products is the delicious apples that you bring in from local apple orchards. Suddenly, your government imposes
a brand-new tax on all apple sales in the country. You comply with the new tax
starting on its date of implementation. But the government is trying
to collect the tax from every apple you have ever sold even the ones sold before the tax came into law. And if you don’t pay,
the government will shut down your whole market! “Can they do that?” you wonder. According to the rule of law,
governments cannot apply a new law to pass actions unless there is a meaningful reason. In order to ensure that
your government is abiding by the rule of law you can reach out to a lawyer
with any concerns about the state of your rights. So, you reach out
to a lawyer about the apple taxes. She informs you this is likely
not permissible under the rule of law. She can then help you to develop a case
arguing that you should not have to pay taxes on the apples you sold before the tax went into effect. Then you and your lawyer
can bring this case in front of a judge. The independence of national courts
and judges is essential to the rule of law. Since your government was not able
to provide a meaninful reason for collecting taxes on all apples ever sold, the judge rules in your
favour, and you will not have to pay any taxes from before the law came into effect! Now you can go back to running your business
and providing your neighbourhood with delicious, locally-sourced produce! All thanks to the independent lawyers and
judges who work to uphold the rule of law in your country!

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