Next Stop on the Way to Constitutional Disarray in Poland: Electoral Law Reform

Last Thursday, the Sejm has passed another hugely controversial law that might change the constitutional setup in Poland without changing a letter of the constitution itself. The law claims, according to its title, to „increase the participation of citizens in the process of electing, functioning and controlling certain public bodies“ (doc. 2001). In large parts, it consists of amendments to the Polish Electoral Code (E.C). Its adoption is opposed by the parliamentary opposition, by the electoral administration bodies and by many experts. The enactment of this law would violate the principle of a democratic state ruled by law in three ways.

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Tu, felix Austria, nube! Ehe für alle – jetzt auch in Österreich

Der österreichische Verfassungsgerichtshof hat festgestellt, dass die Unterscheidung zwischen der Ehe als Rechtsinstitut für verschiedengeschlechtliche Paare und der eingetragenen Partnerschaft für gleichgeschlechtliche Paare gegen das Diskriminierungsverbot des Gleichheitsgrundsatzes der österreichischen Bundesverfassung verstößt. Als erstes Verfassungsgericht Europas hat der VfGH daher die unterschiedlichen Regelungen für verschieden- und gleichgeschlechtliche Paare aufgehoben.

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A Bridge over Troubled Water – a Criminal Lawyers’ Response to Taricco II 

The recent CJEU judgment in M.A.S., M.B. (hereinafter Taricco II) raises more questions than it answers on when Member States can apply higher standards of rights in criminal proceedings. Previous case law, i.e. Taricco I and Melloni, pervaded the primacy of EU law, but from Jeremy F. we also know that Member States enjoy a […]

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Im Technokraten-Panzer auf dem Weg zur Europäischen Armee

Heute hat der Rat der EU das so genannte PESCO-Projekt beschlossen. Es soll wesentlich zur Errichtung einer europäischen Verteidigungsunion beitragen. Es ist rundweg zum Staunen, wie sich nach all den kritischen europapolitischen Grundsatzdiskussionen der vergangenen Jahre bei der Militär- und Rüstungsintegration offenbar die Fehler der Vergangenheit wiederholen. Es ist das technokratisch-funktionalistische Europa, das hier voranschreitet, und nicht das demokratische Europa, das aus der offenen Diskussion der europäischen Bürgerschaft entsteht.

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Belittling the Primacy of EU Law in Taricco II

The Taricco II judgement handed down by the CJEU on 5 December 2017 is a telling and worrying example of a weakly reasoned court decision and the high price at which such weakness comes. It is a judgement that disregards legally problematic questions, seemingly subordinating argumentative consistency to the constraints of legal policy in a climate increasingly critical towards EU law and institutions. The (potential) collateral damage of this approach is considerable.

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Zum Beten in den Keller?

Die Universität Hamburg hat einen Verhaltenskodex veröffentlicht, der den Umgang mit unterschiedlichen Vorstellungen zur Religionsausübung an der UHH grundsätzlich regeln soll. Allerdings lässt die Ausgestaltung zu wünschen übrig. Es fehlt an praktischer Konkordanz und ironischerweise entfaltet eine angeblich dem Abbau von Diskriminierung dienende Maßnahme selbst eine geschlechterspezifisch diskriminierende Wirkung.

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Criticizing the new President of the Polish Constitutional Court: A Crime against the State?

L’état c’est moi. Thus said France’s Louis XIV, and thus seems to think of herself Julia Przyłębska – since the 2016 “coup” against the Constitutional Court in Poland, she is the President of that Court, de facto appointed to the post by the man who runs Poland these days, Jarosław Kaczyński. Last October a Polish oppositional daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, described how she allegedly colluded with the Polish State security in the pursuit of her position at the Constitutional Court. Przyłębska tried to defend herself by using criminal-law instruments otherwise designed to  protect the State. “By attacking me, you attack the State,” she seems to suggest.

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What’s in a name? A Brexit we can all enjoy

Northern Ireland will have a ,hard Brexit’ as any other part of the UK and, at the same time, be subject to a ,regulatory alignment’ with the Republic of Ireland and, hence, the EU. Such is the elegance of this solution, that one might be tempted to mistake it for a genuine policy innovation. In fact, using a made up name for something that you are already doing and calling it ‘new’ has a long pedigree and has been used aplenty.

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Defusing the Taricco Bomb through Fostering Constitutional Tolerance: All Roads Lead to Rome

As Mauro Cappelletti perceptively wrote in 1986, ‘unlike the American Supreme Court and the European Constitutional Courts, the Court of Justice has almost no powers that are not ultimately derived from its own prestige, intellectual and moral force of its opinions’. In other terms, the Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) cannot take obedience to its judgments by Member States and the respective authorities as granted or constitutionally-mandated since, in Weiler’s words, this is a voluntary obedience which goes hand in hand with the exercise of constitutional tolerance in the Member States. In other words, there is a time for the enforcement of the radical primacy of EU law as in Melloni and Taricco I, and a time for internalizing the counterlimits, as in the Taricco II decision (M.A.S. and M.B. case) handed down today by the ECJ.

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EGMR prüft neues Konzept der Sicherungsverwahrung in Deutschland

Ist die deutsche Praxis, besonders gefährliche Straftäter auch nach verbüßter Strafe weiter in Haft zu halten, mit der EMRK vereinbar? Seit 2009 steht diese Frage im Raum. Jetzt wird die Große Kammer des EGMR im Fall Ilnseher noch einmal ganz grundlegend überprüfen, ob sie der jetzigen deutschen Regelung tatsächlich eine konventionsrechtliche Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung ausstellen kann.

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Merabishvili v. Georgia: Has the Mountain Given Birth to a Mouse? 

The wait for those of us looking for much needed answers to understand what direction and coherence the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights would give to its nascent Article 18 case law (also known as ‘bad faith’ case law) has ended. A verdict has been reached in Merabashvili v. Georgia Grand Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.  In a climate of retreat from human rights law and standards under the guise of domestic legalism, answers to the questions of what it means to violate the Convention in bad faith, how we prove it and what responses we owe to bad faith human rights violations have become pressing and urgent. The Grand Chamber gave us answers to the first two questions and passed on the third.

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