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Euthanasia and the Ethics of Free Movement Law: The Principle of Recognition in the Internal Market

Van Leeuwen, Barend

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The free movement provisions enable EU citizens to follow their own ethical preferences by going to a Member State that has made a different ethical choice from their home Member State. However, UK citizens who have assisted suicide or euthanasia abroad could be criminally prosecuted on their return to England. This possibility of a criminal prosecution constitutes a restriction on free movement. Nevertheless, the free movement provisions have so far not been used to challenge the English prohibition of euthanasia. The aim of this article is to show that, based on its ultimate aim, free movement law does have a legitimate role to play in ethical issues. The internal market is based on a principle of recognition, which forces Member States to engage with regulatory choices made by other Member States. This also applies to ethical issues. Member States are not required to justify the existence of different ethical choices. However, if they decide to restrict free movement, they have to be able to show that these differences in fact exist. This approach achieves a balance between the right of citizens to make their own ethical choices, and the ability of Member States to protect their legislation on ethical issues.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 4, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 30, 2018
Publication Date Nov 30, 2018
Deposit Date Apr 11, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 11, 2018
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 6
Pages 1417-1436
Public URL
Publisher URL


Accepted Journal Article (603 Kb)

Copyright Statement
First published in the German Law Journal, 30 November 2018, Vol. 19 No. 06.

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