2020/ 2021

Angelina Atanasova

Mobility Phase: Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia | Central European University, Budapest

The Role of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Context of Democratic Backsliding - a 'Stranger' or an Ally to Civil Society in Bulgaria and Hungary?

Angelina Atanasova is a PhD Candidate at the Public Law Department at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her PhD research focuses on the role of non-state actors in the judicial dialogue between domestic courts and the CJEU and more specifically in triggering the preliminary ruling procedure in cases related to disability and gender equality. Angelina was a Visiting Doctoral Researcher at iCourts, University of Copenhagen (2019) and at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (2016). She held a position as a Research Manager with focus on social policy in the private sector. Previously, she served as a Consultant on equality and anti-discrimination issues at the Open Society European Policy Institute. Angelina held a Think Tank Fund Fellowship as a part of the Think Tank Young Professional Development Program to research the link between media, democracy and human rights at the Forum 2000 Foundation. Prior to that, as a part of her Master’s degree programme in Public Policy (Central European University, 2011), she explored Roma women empowerment in Central and Eastern Europe in the Center for Policy Studies. Her current academic interests cover the areas of empirical legal work and politicization of judicial processes, rule of law and democracy.

The Role of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Context of Democratic Backsliding - a ‘Stranger’ or an Ally to Civil Society in Bulgaria and Hungary?

There is little research on when civil society actors in the countries from the CEE region mobilize EU law. While usually the focus of legal scholars falls on salient legal decisions of top and supranational courts and their implications; little is known about the perceptions of such decisions by civil society. Do civil society actors in the CEE view litigation as a tool for defending fundamental rights violations? Do they perceive the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), one of the most powerful supranational courts, as their potential ally in such a ‘fight’? Do they consider that rulings rendered by the CJEU have the potential to bring change at domestic level? More insights into the apprehension and internal decision making processes of civil society actors are needed to understand under what conditions they are likely to resort to litigation at supranational level in the current context of democratic backsliding. The project will focus on civil society actors in two CEE countries – Bulgaria and Hungary. Through semi-structured interviews with civil society and judicial representatives, this research project is expected to enhance the understanding on CEE civil society’s perceptions of supranational litigation and its potential for providing effective remedies.