The Hungarian Constitutional Court’s case with the ECHR: an ambivalent relationship

Hungary was the first country in the post-Soviet bloc that joined the Council of Europe and ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and this remains a matter of national pride. While the Convention is perceived as a yardstick in human rights protection that may not be circumvented, still lively debate surrounds the authority of the case-law of European Court of Human Rights. The recent constitutional reform has left the status of the Convention largely untouched. The Convention still enjoys a supra-legislative rank: it is subordinated to the Fundamental Law but is superior to all other pieces of legislation.

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Anti-Roma-Märsche in Ungarn: Staat muss Anzeichen auf Hasskriminalität nachgehen

Die Neonazi-Aufmärsche von Gyöngyöspata 2011 haben Ungarn eine Verurteilung vor dem EGMR in Straßburg eingebracht – und den Staaten Europas die klare Ansage, Hasskriminalität als HASSkriminalität zu verfolgen und die Augen vor rassistischen Motiven von Straftaten nicht zu verschließen.

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Menschenwürde schlägt Anerkennungsgrundsatz

Europa fußt auf Vertrauen. Aber was, wenn manche europäischen Mitgliedsstaaten aufhören dieses Vertrauen zu verdienen? Ist die Vertrauenswürdigkeit ihrerseits Vertrauenssache? Angesichts der Mir-doch-egal-Haltung, die einige mittel- und osteuropäische Regierungen gegenüber dem Europarecht und den fundamentalen Verfassungsgrundsätzen Europas mittlerweile an den Tag legen, ist das keine theoretische Frage, sondern eine, von der Europas Zukunft abhängt. Heute hat der Europäische Gerichtshof sie auf eine Weise beantwortet, die mir einen Stein vom Herzen fallen lässt.

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Hungary’s Struggle: In a Permanent State of Exception

The Hungarian government has called for a referendum on EU relocation quota plan and declared a “nationwide migrant crisis”. The justification given by the government for these measures was the “massive immigration” which “endangers the jobs of Hungarians and redraws Hungary’s cultural and religious identity”. The argument went that, due to a “migrant crisis” the Hungarian government needed a greater room for maneuvre, not limited by constitutional constraints, in order to manage the crisis. This argument presupposes that, as a result of the migrant crisis, Hungary has ended up in a state of exception, when constitutional guarantees have to be limited or suspended; essential powers have to be concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, until the crisis is overcome.

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Poland, Hungary and Europe: Pre-Article 7 Hopes and Concerns

The European Commission’s opening of a rule of law dialogue with Poland in the new pre-Article 7 format developed last year is an important test of European constitutionalism both on the EU and on the Member State level. The mechanism is meant to address systemic violations of the rule of law in several steps, in the format of a structured dialogue. The new procedure does not preclude or prevent the launching of an infringement procedure by the Commission. The probe into Poland’s measures against the Constitutional Tribunal and its new media regulation is expected to test the viability of an EU constitutional enforcement mechanism against a Member State.

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Hitting where it hurts the most: Hungary’s legal challenge against the EU’s refugee quota system

Following the drama and confusion on the South-Eastern borders of the EU in the hot summer of 2015, the EU and the Member States adopted a Council Decision which introduced a quota system for the distribution and settlement of asylum seekers and migrants. Its aim was to establish a regime for the fair sharing of burdens among the Member States. This quota system was opposed and subsequently challenged before the EU Court of Justice by Hungary, one of the worst affected EU Member States, by which it affirmed its position as a Member State which regards the Union primarily as an arena for vindicating its national interests, and which is not hesitant to prioritise its own interests, mainly in areas which fall within competences retained by the Member States, over those of other Member States and of the Union.

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“2004 EU Accession” as a Founding Moment? Of lost opportunities, alienating constitutionalism and vigilant courts

Much as the liberal elites in Poland are appalled by the ruthlessness of the attack on the Constitutional Court and the Polish rule of law, they are the ones to be blamed for the civic passivity that continues to define post-transition societies in general. The truly reformative potential of 1989, and then 2004, was lost when elites neglected the importance of connecting with the “real” people beyond the magic of the big-bang moments of 1989 and 2004. This „alienating constitutionalism“ is one of the dark sides of 2004 Founding Moment, one that nobody really saw coming at the time of the EU Accession. Should the citizenry start embracing and defending the Court as „my own“, the truly powerful legacy of the 2004 Founding Moment would be discovered.

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Straßburg nimmt den Kampf gegen Überwachungsstaat auf

Die Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention schützt uns davor, dass unser Staat zu einem Überwachungsstaat mutiert. Das zumindest ist der Anspruch, den der Straßburger Menschenrechtsgerichtshof vor wenigen Wochen in seiner epochalen und in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit viel zu wenig wahrgenommenen Entscheidung Sacharow v. Russland aufgestellt hat: Wenn Polizei oder Geheimdienst die Telefon- und Internetkommunikation von buchstäblich jedem überwachen darf, dann darf auch buchstäblich jeder dagegen klagen. Und wenn es an hinreichend robuster Kontrolle dieser Überwachung fehlt, dann verletzt sie buchstäblich jeden von uns in unserem Recht auf Privatsphäre. Vielleicht hatte die vergleichsweise geringe Resonanz auch damit zu tun, dass es ein russischer Fall war. Aber heute hat es mit der Kammerentscheidung Szabó v. Ungarn den ersten EU-Staat erwischt. Es wird nicht der letzte bleiben.

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