Although the ECJ has used general principles of law as a source of rights and obligations from an early stage in the development of EU law, key issues regarding their definition, nature and role as a source of law remain unresolved. How can they be identified? What is their normative basis? Are there rules determining priorities among them and how do they relate to Charter rights? How has their role evolved? Diverse and often bewildering judicial terminology serves to obfuscate the role of principles which, in terms of positive law, stand at the apex of the EU law edifice. This article seeks to revisit some of those questions. It explores the meaning of ‘Europeanisation; it attempts a typology of general principles; it seeks to identify their normative basis; and assesses their role both as generators of jus communae and as a source of constitutional conflict.
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