The Catalan Self-Determination Referendum Act: A New Legal Order in Europe

The Catalan Parliament is taking the secession process to the next level. By illegitimately passing two Acts that constitute a Catalan proto-constitution, a constitutional coup d’état and a new legal order are on their way.

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Kupierte Frei­handels­abkommen: Verfassungs­rechtliche Heraus­forderungen einer neuen Unionsstrategie

Bisher wurden die Mitgliedstaaten im Rahmen gemischter Abkommen bei allen Freihandelsverträgen der Union mit Drittstaaten eigenständige Vertragsparteien. Der Freihandel war damit keine ausschließliche Domäne der Union. Mit dieser Tradition wird die EU-Kommission unter ihrem Präsidenten Juncker nun brechen, wie sich aus unmissverständlichen Hinweisen in der Rede zur Lage der Union erkennen lässt. Was steht hinter diesem Paradigmenwechsel? Und ist er noch vereinbar mit dem Karlsruher Rechtsspruch, dass die mitgliedstaatliche Rechtssubjektivität nicht zu Gunsten einer staatsanalogen Union zurückweichen darf?

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Is the European Parliament Missing its Constitutional Moment?

Over the years, step by step, the European Parliament has won a share of real constitutional power. At times, Parliament has had a decisive influence on the constitutive development of the European Union. At other times, MEPs have found it just as difficult as the European Council has done to make constitutional sense of a Union which is an uneasy compromise between federal and confederal elements. If EU governance is congenitally weak it may be because its institutions are unable to manage the dichotomy between supranational and intergovernmental. Today, circumstances have thrown the European Parliament a golden opportunity to take a major step in the federal direction – but it looks as though MEPs are going to retreat again.

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The EU and the Catalan Crisis

The events of the past week in Catalunya (and of the weeks that will follow) are very serious and worrying. Catalunya is a region of a Member State of the EU that has begun a unilateral process of independence, disregarding the Constitution, its Statute of Autonomy and the opposition of half of the Catalan population. It’s a remarkable challenge for Spanish democracy. It’s a challenge for the EU as well.

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Hungarian Constitutional Identity and the ECJ Decision on Refugee Quota

The outcome of the lawsuit launched by the Hungarian Government against the EU Council’s decision on compulsory relocation of asylum seekers before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) took no-one by surprise, neither in Budapest nor elsewhere. Some may have hoped that the complaint would succeed legally, but nevertheless it has always been primarily a part of a well-devised political strategy based on the idea of national identity as a concept of constitutional and EU law.

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The EU as the Appropriate Locus of Power for Tackling Crises: Interpretation of Article 78(3) TFEU in the case Slovakia and Hungary v Council

The CJEU’s judgment in Slovakia and Hungary v Council of 6 September 2017 raises important instutional questions. As the Court implicitly recognises the EU as the appropriate forum for taking effective action to address the emergency situation created by a sudden inflow of third country nationals, it adopts its tendency towards purposive and effectiveness-oriented jurisprudence to asylum law.

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Dispute Resolution after Brexit

When setting out her priorities for the Brexit negotiations in a speech at Lancaster House in January, Theresa May promised to ‘bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain.’  This forcefully formulated ‘red line’ turned into a headache for the British negotiators as it was both somewhat misconceived – the ECJ’s preliminary reference procedure hardly results in jurisdiction ‘in Britain’ – and overly categorical ignoring both the likely content of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement and the shape of the future UK-EU relationship envisaged by her own government as a ‘new, deep and special partnership.’ Today’s paper on ‘enforcement and dispute resolution’ should therefore be welcomed as injecting a portion of realism and pragmatism in the debate over the ECJ.

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A Stress Test for Europe’s Judiciaries

The rule of law, judicial independence and separation of powers are values guaranteed in constitutions of member states of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, in recent years, a number of challenges to these accepted values have emerged in different countries all over Europe. Events in countries like Hungary, Ukraine, Slovakia and Turkey should be mentioned in this context. Poland’s reforms of its judiciary (some of them still in draft stage) are the latest and gravest example of this European crisis. While such threats to judicial independence in individual states are a fundamental problem for European co-operation based on shared values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, European states should not wait for remedies to be found on the European level. Rather, European states should learn from the challenges in Poland and other countries to critically review the constitutional and legal framework of their own national judiciaries. To facilitate this process, we suggest to stress test Europe’s judiciaries.

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Summer of Love: Karlsruhe Refers the QE Case to Luxembourg

It seems that the BVerfG has learned a lesson. Yesterday’s referral about the the European Central Bank’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE) sets a completely different tone. It reads like a modest and balanced plea for judicial dialogue, rather than an indictment. Fifty years after the original event, a new Summer of Love seems to thrive between the highest judicial bodies. It shows no traces of the aplomb with which Karlsruhe presented its stance to Luxembourg three years ago.

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