The Italian President and the Security of the European Project

In a previous post, I have argued that the recent decision of the Italian President Mattarella to refuse to appoint as Finance Minister Paolo Savona, was constitutional. Many have argued either in favour or against Mattarella’s decision, either from legal or political perspective, or both. My argument is as follows: (a) the decision to refuse Savona’s appointment is not only legal, but also legitimate, as confirmed by the legal-historical context, in which the Italian form of government has developed; (b) the reasons behind Mattarella’s decision are deeply linked with the “security of the European project”, a rationale which has been a constant feature of European integration. Yet conflicts and contradictions have been concealed for too long and should be addressed more directly.

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“Academics for Peace“ and their Freedom of Expression

The ‘Academics for Peace Petition’, published in January 2016, was signed by around two thousand academics from both Turkey and from abroad. The petition raised concerns, using strong language, about the conduct of Turkish security forces in their counter-terrorism operations carried out in response to violent actions by the PKK terrorist group and their supporters  in south-east Turkey in the summer of 2015. One signatory,  Füsun Üstel, professor of political science, was found guilty of committing the crime of terrorist propaganda under Article 7(2) of the Turkish Counter Terrorism Law and now faces fifteen months of imprisonment. The constitutional protection of Üstel’s freedom of expression has not been respected by the court in its judicial reasoning. 

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Dusting off the Old Precedent – Why the Commission Must Stick to the Art. 7 Procedure Against Poland

Here we go again. The reports are resurfacing that the Commission is ready to back away from the Article 7 procedure that was initiated against Poland last December. Should we be surprised? For anybody who vaguely follows the Commission’s vanishing act, the answer must be a resounding „no”. Instead, the analysis that follows offers a journey back in time and argues that the past teaches us some important lessons and … rhymes.

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March 2018

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Suffering from Withdrawal – Controversy in the UK EU (Withdrawal) Bill

Beginning today, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill (EUWB) will return to the UK House of Commons, where all 15 amendments made to the EUWB by the House of Lords will be debated over only two days. The EUWB is arguably one of the most contentious and complex pieces of legislation to be presented to the British Parliament in this century. The amendments are a response to the concerns regarding the broad discretion across an unknown expanse of law with an almost-unfettered use of legislative power by the executive.

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Is the Reasoning in "Coman" as Good as the Result?

The Court of Justice of the European Union has not always enjoyed the reputation of being particularly LGBT-friendly, but its standing among those pushing for the better protection of rights of same-sex couples is likely to have improved considerably following Coman. While I agree with the substantive result of the decision, I am uncertain if the CJEU’s reasoning is equally convincing. My two main points of critique concern the interpretative techniques applied and the relationship between national identity and fundamental rights.

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Open Letter to Vice-President Frans Timmermans

If the law on the Polish Supreme Court enters into force in the beginning of July, as is currently planned, a large number of sitting judges of that Court will see their tenure unconstitutionally extinguished. In combination with an increase in the number of seats on the Supreme Court, this means that the newly politicized National Council of the Judiciary, elected by the governing party, will be in a position to appoint a majority of the judges on the Supreme Court. 23 legal and constitutional scholars have signed an open letter to urge the Vice President of the EU Commission to initiate an infringement procedure against Poland.

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Lithuania and Romania Complicit for Hosting CIA “Black Sites”

On 31 May 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) confirmed in two simultaneously published judgments, Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania and Al Nashiri v. Romania, that Lithuania and Romania were involved in the running of secret detention facilities of the CIA, so-called “black sites”, on their territories as well as their “complicity” in the execution of CIA’s secret extraordinary rendition programme for suspected terrorists.

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If 'Vote Leave' Broke the Law, Could Brexit be Void?

Could Brexit be declared void by a court, and article 50 revoked, if there were major irregularities in the vote? Evidence is emerging of possible fraud, and criminal acts by Vote Leave, Cambridge Analytica, and Aggregate IQ: illegal overspending, psychologically profiling and targeting people with online ads, based on stolen data. Now, the legal opinion of three barristers has become public on how Vote Leave, and its organiser Dominic Cummings, committed criminal offences.

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The Hungarian Constitutional Court betrays Academic Freedom and Freedom of Association

On 5 June the Hungarian Constitutional Court issued two injunction decisions, almost identical in their texts, which suspend the constitutional review procedures against two laws enacted in early April, 2017 by the Hungarian Parliament, outside the normal legislative process. The first, an amendment to the Act on National Higher Education known as „Lex CEU“ was challenged by a constitutional complaint, the second, the Act of the Transparency of Organizations Receiving Foreign Funds by 60 opposition MPs of the Hungarian Parliament with an abstract norm control notion. The handling of these two petitions by the Constitutional Court was odd in more than just one respect.

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New Paradigms for the European Parliament

Without strong leadership Europe’s right-wing movements will remain a disparate band at next year’s European Parliament elections. There is one man who knows this: Viktor Orbán. The real battle next year will not be centred on Potemkin-like Spitzenkandidaten, but will polarise around Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán.

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Bumps on the Roadmap towards the Republic of Northern Macedonia?

Greece and the Republic of Macedonia are one step closer to re-naming R. Macedonia into the “Republic of Northern Macedonia” or “Republic of Upper Macedonia”. On 28 May 2018, the Foreign Ministers of both countries have announced significant progress towards the bilateral treaty regarding the name issue. At the same time, a road map for the name change of the Republic of Macedonia was announced that includes a binding referendum by the Macedonian people. But what happens if the treaty is already signed and binding, and the people of Macedonia vote against the name change in the referendum?

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