The contribution explores the implications of disagreements about rights in the ‘multi-layered’ European polity for the autonomy of EU fundamental rights law. It argues that insomuch as the EU’s weak claim to supra-national political authority is corroborated by a strong case for economic integration, the internal market operates not simply as a constraining factor in the effective realisation of fundamental rights, but provides the very foundation of their autonomous interpretation in the EU legal order. Sections II and III elaborate upon the relationship between conflicts of authority in the European legal space and the autonomous interpretation of EU fundamental rights law under conditions of political disagreement. Section IV links the argument to the often-alleged instrumentalisation of EU fundamental rights in the service of the market. Sections V and VI substantiate the guiding contention of the contribution—that the autonomy of EU fundamental rights law is rooted in the unity of the market—with an analysis of pertinent case law. The concluding section suggests that the transformation of the EU into a ‘genuine’ human rights polity must proceed through a politicisation of the market by virtue of fundamental rights law.
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