In reviewing legal acts adopted in the context of the economic-financial crisis, proportionality finds frequent application. However, case-law at both national and Union’s level displays elements of a loose proportionality review, as Courts hardly dare to challenge the substance of the decisions negotiated by law-makers.
The article argues that loose proportionality is tied to a departure from the juridical roots of the referring concept, which lie in a ‘culture of justification’ as alternative to a ‘culture of authority’ in the exercise of public power. In this light, it provides analysis of the case-law concerned to show that the decisions taken at the political level do not seek their legitimacy in dialogical justification, but find it in the alleged assumption that they represent the optimal ‘reasonable solution’ for all Member States, despite the painful inequalities they entail. As they prove somehow alien to the cultural-juridical roots of the concept, they cannot undergo a fully-fledged proportionality scrutiny. Yet, this may signpost the gradual comeback of a ‘culture of authority’ requiring careful reflection, as it would touch upon the very conception of the human person as capable of self-determination – arguably, the cornerstone of contemporary constitutional arrangements.European Public Law