POSTS BY Laurent Pech

Poland and the European Commission, Part III: Requiem for the Rule of Law

On 20 February 2017, the Polish government has replied to the European Commission’s rule of law findings. That reply is so clearly absurd, rude and full of ‘alternative facts’ that the case to trigger the sanction mechanism in Art 7 TEU promptly is more compelling than ever. It is time for Member State governments to get their act together and make explicit their disapproval of a government that finds it acceptable not only to violate its national Constitution and EU values in plain sight but also to bully and disrespect EU representatives such as Frans Timmermans and Donald Tusk.

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Poland and the European Commission, Part II: Hearing the Siren Song of the Rule of Law

As Poland has careened away from the rule of law, the European Commission has struggled to work out its response. Given Europe’s multiple crises at the moment, the internal affairs of a rogue government or two may seem less critical to Europe’s well being than crises that affect multiple states at the same time, like the refugee crisis, the Euro-crisis or the fallout from Brexit. But the proliferation of governments inside the EU that no longer share basic European values undermines the reason for existence of the EU in the first place.

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Poland and the European Commission, Part I: A Dialogue of the Deaf?

On 21 December 2016, the European Commission adopted an additional Recommendation regarding the rule of law in Poland. Rather than starting the Article 7 sanctioning process, the Commission merely reiterated its old demands, added some new concerns and again held out the threat of Article 7 while apparently moving no closer to actually starting a sanctioning process. It is not that the Commission was unaware of what was happening in Poland. In December, the Commission stood by and watched the Polish government capture the Constitutional Tribunal. The new Recommendation indicates that the Commission simply chose not to act to head off the final stages of the Tribunal’s demise.

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The EU and Poland: Giving up on the Rule of Law?

With an off-hand remark in a Belgian newspaper, President Juncker has called off the EU Commission’s effort to pressure Poland into following the rule of law. If he went through with this, he would not only pull the rug from under his own First Vice President Timmermans and spare the national governments the necessity to live up to their responsibilities. The Commission President deciding that the slide of a member state into authoritarianism is not his business, with a Trump Presidency in the US coming, forgoes the European Union’s claim to be capable of fulfilling its leadership role in the world.

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Systemic Threat to the Rule of Law in Poland: What should the Commission do next?

Considering the overwhelming evidence of a deliberate governmental strategy of systematically undermining all checks and balances in Poland as well the uncooperative behaviour of Polish authorities, the Commission has been left with no other choice but to trigger the Article 7 mechanism. Even if there is no realistic chance of seeing the Council adopting sanctions against Poland, this step would finally oblige national governments, meeting in the Council, to face up to their own responsibilities.

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EU Judge Dehousse’s Farewell Address, with a short introduction by Professors Alemanno & Pech

Readers of this blog will find here the English translation of Judge Franklin Dehousse’s farewell address, which he had hoped to give on the occasion of his departure from the EU General Court last month. In an apparent break with tradition, no public ceremony was organised for the departing EU judges, and an internal meeting was arranged instead. While regrettable, this is perhaps not surprising. Indeed, Judge Dehousse has been among one of the most outspoken critics of the controversial reform of the EU’s court system.

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Five Questions on Brexit to LAURENT PECH

Middlesex Law Professor Laurent Pech on the limits if not perils of direct democracy when citizens to are asked to decide complex policy choices in the absence of a clear understanding of the available options and potential consequences of their vote.

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Where do we stand on the reform of the EU’s Court System? On a reform as short-sighted as the attempts to force through its adoption

Last October, the CJEU has proposed to double the number of judges at the General Court to help tackling its growing workload. The legislative process this proposal is currently undergoing appears to be marred by a pattern of procedural irregularities whose only aim seems to be the speedy adoption of the reform and – more troublingly – may also be construed as a joint advocacy strategy designed to systematically eliminate any opportunity for a public, well informed and evidence-based debate. Should this reform go through (as it appears likely), damaging evidence might yet come to light and the authority and legitimacy of relevant EU institutions will be further undermined at a time where they have little to spare.

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Where do we stand on the reform of the EU’s Court System? On a reform as short-sighted as the attempts to force through its adoption

Last October, the CJEU has proposed to double the number of judges at the General Court to help tackling its growing workload. The legislative process this proposal is currently undergoing appears to be marred by a pattern of procedural irregularities whose only aim seems to be the speedy adoption of the reform and – more troublingly – may also be construed as a joint advocacy strategy designed to systematically eliminate any opportunity for a public, well informed and evidence-based debate. Should this reform go through (as it appears likely), damaging evidence might yet come to light and the authority and legitimacy of relevant EU institutions will be further undermined at a time where they have little to spare.

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Reform of the EU’s Court System: Why a more accountable – not a larger – Court is the way forward

The European Court of Justice and its President Vassilios Skouris have been subject to unprecedented media scrutiny following intense internal infighting about a contentious proposal which officially aims to ‘reinforce the efficiency of justice at EU level’ by doubling the number of judges working at the General Court. The real challenge facing the Court today, though, is more qualitative than quantitative in nature. The proposal to double the number of GC judges appears to be ‘yesterday’s solution for yesterday’s problem’.

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