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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Barend van Leeuwen

Van Leeuwen, Barend (2018). Euthanasia and the Ethics of Free Movement Law: The Principle of Recognition in the Internal Market. German Law Journal 19(6): 1417-1436.

Author(s) from Durham


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.