30 days, six months… forever? Border control and the French Council of State

For Christmas 2017, the French Council of State – the Supreme Court for administrative matters in France – gave a nasty present to those attached to the free movement of persons in the Schengen area. In a ruling issued on 28 December (see here, in French), it upheld the decision of the French Government to reintroduce, for the ninth time in a row, identity control at its “internal” borders, i.e. borders with other Schengen countries – even though checks at internal borders are not, in fact, systematically performed. This decision, issued without even bringing the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling, sets aside, probably unlawfully, the time limit set by the Schengen Borders Code.

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The Commission takes a step back in the fight for the Rule of Law

The European Commission has filed a complaint against Poland with the Court of Justice of the European Union based on Article 258 TFEU, in connection with the Polish Act on the Common Courts System. Fines may be charged on Poland as a result of the case, but the Commission has probably quietly withdrawn some of its charges, apparently opting for the somewhat modified “Hungarian scenario”. The impact of this new approach on the reversibility of the changes introduced to the Polish judiciary will be very limited.

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Catalonia in deadlock, and why that is a European problem

The Catalan territorial conflict is stuck. No clear solutions are on the table after the elections of December 21st. Catalans and Spaniards are failing so far to find solutions to the problem. But it is our European common problem and our common responsibility to try to help them. More specifically, EU institutions should be doing much more of what they have done so far. I blame them for their passivity in the last couple of months.

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The European Commission’s Activation of Article 7: Better Late than Never?

On Wednesday, the European Commission reacted to the continuing deterioration of the rule of law situation in Poland. The remaining question, of course, is why this argument has been used in the context of 7(1) as opposed of 7(2) given that the situation on the ground in Poland is clearly – in the view of the Commission, the Venice Commission and countless other actors – one of clear and persistent breach of values, as opposed to a threat thereof. The explanation might lie beyond the simple difficulty of the procedural requirements related to the sanctioning stage.

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What’s in a Name? The Republic of Macedonia at the Crossroads

Forming of the new Government on 31st of May 2017 marked the beginning of the end of one of the most serious political crisis that Republic of Macedonia has lived through from its independence. The country was faced with challenges both on the domestic front – the dissolution of the democratic institutions and backsliding to authoritarianism, and on the international front as well – worsening of the relations with its neighbors. One of the first steps taken by the new government was to renew the ties with its Southern neighbor – Greece and to continue the talks over the name issue. After a period of three years, the representatives from both countries started negotiating again in order to resolve the name dispute and the security implications of this prolonged dispute on the Balkan region. But by all means the renewal of the negotiations is only just a beginning of the lengthy path of rebuilding the trust and solving the issue that has been a huge burden especially to the R. Macedonia’s integration in EU and NATO.

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Taking the EU-Turkey Deal to Court?

The EU-Turkey deal on the return of refugees is one of the most controversial policy steps taken by the EU in recent years. The EU General Court chose to sidestep the difficult legal questions raised by the deal by dismissing these cases, ruling it had no jurisdiction to review the deal on the ground that the Statement was not an act of Union institutions, but that of Member States. Will the CJEU use this opportunity to set the record straight by establishing who had the competence to conclude the EU-Turkey deal?

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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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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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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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