Collective Expulsion and the Khlaifia Case: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The European Convention on Human Rights forbids member states to expulse foreign citizens collectively. Does this mean that they have to conduct individual interviews with refugees before they send them back? Last year, a chamber of the ECtHR, in a case concerning Tunisians landed in Lampedusa in 2011, had concluded that it does. Now, the Great Chamber has reviewed this decision, considerably narrowing the scope of the collective expulsion ban.

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The End of the Grand Coalition and the Significance of Stable Majorities in the European Parliament

A few years ago, the German Constitutional Court had to rule on the significance of stable majorities in the European Parliament. Such majorities were not terribly significant, was the conclusion reached by the Court – at least not important enough to justify a three percent threshold for elections to the EP, laid down in German federal law. Under the constitutional conditions of the moment, the Court explained, the formation of a stable majority was not needed in the EU ‘for electing and continuously supporting a government capable of acting’. These past few weeks, a crisis has been unfolding in Brussels and Strasbourg that may turn out to be an interesting test case for the German Court’s analysis.

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Brexit and the Single Market: You say Article 50, we say Article 127?

Hard on the heels of the Article 50 case heard last week by the UK Supreme Court, comes the announcement of another challenge to the UK Government’s Brexit plans, this time based on Article 127 of the EEA agreement. Much like Article 50 TEU, that provision allows contracting parties to the EEA agreement to withdraw from it. The claimants in the Article 127 challenge contend that withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 will not lead to withdrawal from the EEA, given that with Article 127 the EEA agreement contains its own termination clause. Hence their argument goes that unless the Government also triggers Article 127, the UK will stay in the EEA even after Brexit; and that would mean that the UK would remain in the single market. Much like the Article 50 case, the impending court case therefore seeks a declaration by the High Court that the Government cannot trigger Article 127 without prior approval of Parliament. The claimants’ hope is that while Parliament may feel politically bound by the EU referendum result to allow the Government to leave the EU, it may not vote in favour of leaving the EEA, viz. the single market, as this was not a question on the ballot paper. It is the aim of this blogpost to identify the three main hurdles the claimants are likely to be facing and discuss whether these can be overcome.

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After the Italian Referendum

So much was at stake for Italy, its political class and its economy, and for the European Union (EU) and its member states in the country’s failed referendum on constitutional reform. In the EU, Germany is a particularly sensitive case. The relations between Germany and Italy are a focal point in Europe. They used to be in an asymmetric, albeit comforting, equilibrium.

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Shared powers: the elephant in the room in the division of powers-debate

The saga surrounding the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has again brought the issue of the division of foreign affairs powers between the EU and its Member States to the centre of attention of many an EU lawyer. How far do the EU’s exclusive powers to conduct a ‘common commercial policy’ reach? Do implied powers supplement the EU’s express exclusive powers in this area? Is it appropriate to apply a so-called ‘centre of gravity’ test when assessing the vires of a particular EU action on the international scene, or should a piecemeal approach be followed, whereby the inclusion of a single provision that reaches beyond the scope of the EU’s exclusive powers requires a proposed international agreement to be adopted as a ‘mixed’ agreement?

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A Homeless Ghost? European Legal Integration in Search of a Polity

A member of the European Parliament recently compared the European Union to an Airbus on autopilot attempting to cross the Alps without taking off the ground. Be it the EU’s piecemeal approach to fixing its economic governance post-financial crisis or its inability to speak with one voice in matters of common concern from internal border management to external trade: there is a growing sense of urgency in reforming the EU legal architecture to steer European integration back on course. However, such functional necessities are unlikely to sway the peoples of Europe who – tired of the EU’s attempts at technocratic self-rule – increasingly retreat into the homeliness of their nation-states. From the early ‘no more’ war discourse to the ‘no choice’ rhetoric of late in governing a Union in crisis, European integration has often been presented as a political inevitability. Yet it appears that the most ambitious modern project of legal and political integration beyond the state has come to a halt – where from here?

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After Fragmentation: The Constitution of a Core European Citizenry?

Core European Citizenship as an individual choice: Europeans who were granted the embryonic status of ‘EU citizenship’ with the Treaty of Maastricht, and who rely on this status and these rights for their pursuit of fulfilment throughout the European Union’s territory, should be given the choice to establish themselves in a real European constitutional polity.

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Blowin’ against the Wind: the Future of EU trade Policy

U.S. President-elect Trump has announced his intention to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. In the EU too the wind seems to be blowing in a similar direction. There appears to be a widespread and growing anti-free-trade sentiment in some parts of the population. Should the EU, at this moment in time, continue to pursue a free trade agenda? If so, does the EU have the means to do that effectively?

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The End of the Eurocrats’ Dream

The premise of this timely and important book is that the Euro crisis has placed the EU in an existential predicament that cannot be resolved in the usual fashion of yet more of the same. Though there is surprisingly little by way of a sketch of what might have been the Eurocrats’ dream, the reader is left in no doubt that we are currently living through what might best be termed the Eurocrats’ nightmare – a form of governance that falls far short of the current challenges confronting the EU, and is indeed partly promotive of them.

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The End of the European Union as We Know It

The European Union is facing a political crisis unprecedented in its 59-year history. This club of democratic countries established primarily to promote peace and prosperity in post-war Europe is facing a nationalist and populist surge that threatens the democratic principles at the very heart of the EU. Capitalizing on the European sovereign debt crisis; backlash against refugees streaming in from the Middle East, Brexit and public angst over the growing terror threat, previously fringe political parties are growing with alarming speed.

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