This paper analyses some of the basic constitutional principles of the European Union in contrast with the autonomous policy-making activity of Member States through the example of Hungary. The foundational principles of the EU are responsible for coordinating European integration and the behaviour of Member States with the purpose of creating an inner cohesion and achieving the common, long-term goals of the European Union. However, the everyday practice of European and national policy-making shows that these principles do not always prevail in the political reality, but in some situations Member States disregard them and choose to conduct an autonomous, or in other words, particularist behaviour. Among the constitutional principles in question this paper focuses on equality, solidarity and mutual respect (which refers to loyalty among Member States) because these are the most important ones limiting Member States' ability to pursue policies that could compromise common EU goals. The current paper examines, through the example of Hungary's policy-making in the Union, the relationship between the constitutional principles of the EU and particularist Member State behaviour, which relationship is mostly determined by the coexistence (or overlap) of different national an EU commitments. The paper argues that these constitutional principles do not impose standardization or centralization on member States; on the contrary, there is room for diversity and decentralization, as follows from the principle of subsidiarity. However, individual Member State actions must have legitimate causes and the elbow-room for Member States to act should be found within the EU framework.
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