The idea of justice in the EU legal setting has become a new lens for viewing the European enterprise and is as such largely inspired by the greater debate in political theory on how to imagine a just society. This paper explores the meaning and function of justice-oriented reasoning in the EU legal discourse by deconstructing it from a perspective of legitimacy and asking what justice can add to the debate on EU constitutionalism in the specific area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ). I argue that, despite the complicated relationship between the notions of justice and legitimacy, this linkage is closely associated in an EU context and thereby relevant to the bigger question of how the EU could, and should, become a just system, and that the key to understanding this synergetic relationship is to view justice as a European process. In examining these questions I start by investigating the justice and legitimacy symbiosis in the framework of the contested notion of democracy beyond the nation state. In addition, I suggest that using justice as a tool for developing new policy fields, such as the AFSJ, will help to take it beyond a mere administrative slogan and towards a critical concept.
justice EU justice-oriented area of freedom security and justice legitimacy