Harnessing Artificial Intelligence the European Way

Will 10 April 2018 be remembered by many as the day of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the US Senate? The hearing was covered by the media in all aspects down to the tie he was wearing. But that was not the only important event taking place on that day, and maybe not even the most important one: I am talking about the Declaration on Cooperation in Artificial Intelligence, signed on the same day but hardly noticed. And yet its impact in the long term might exceed that of the current scandal about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica by far.

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The Draft Amendments to the Serbian Constitution: Populism before Judicial Independence

Serbia is currently abuzz with draft constitutional amendments that should enhance judicial independence and move the country one step closer to EU accession. On 12 April 2018, the Serbian Government adopted the draft amendments and sent them to the Venice Commission. However, while at present the political influence on the judiciary comes from the political institutions, in the future this influence will come from the ruling majority.

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Gerrymandering and Judicial Review in Malaysia

On 28 March, the Malaysian Parliament passed new electoral maps. The re-delineated boundaries create an imbalance in constituencies, prompting allegations of mal-apportionment and gerrymandering. They remain largely unchallenged, not only through ouster clauses in particularized elections legislation, but also through the unwillingness of the judiciary to recognize the importance of the constitutional question relating to fair and equitable electoral management.

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March 2018

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Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

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      RONI MANN
 
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What’s (still) Wrong with Glyphosate? On Pesticides, Public Trust and Parliamentary Scrutiny

The Glyphosate saga that had been troubling farmers, regulators, activists and corporations for almost seven years, finally came to an end with the renewal of the authorization for the infamously notorious pesticide in December 2017. Or did it? Reacting to the widespread institutional and societal concern generated by the uncertainty over Glyphosate’s safety, the European Parliament has set up a special committee on the authorization procedure for pesticides, which held its first working meeting in Brussels on April 12th, 2018. With this, the first renewal of Glyphosate’s authorization became a major case of politicization of science in the European Union.

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Selmayr’s Appointment: Why this Juncker Crisis is Much More Dangerous for the EU Commission than the Santer Crisis in 1999

The promotion of Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of cabinet Martin Selmayr to secretary general of the EU Commission has caused quite a stir in some parts of the press, but rather little critique in the EU Parliament, among EU lawyers and in the eurobubble in general. This episode will come back recurrently during the populist campaign against the EU institutions in 2019. And later it will still be used to weaken the Commission. 2019 will sadly be far from the end of this story.

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Bad Response to a Tragic Choice: the Case of Polish Council of the Judiciary

A few days ago, the courageous and intelligent Chief Justice of the Polish Supreme Court, Professor Małgorzata Gersdorf, announced that, after some agonizing due to important legal and moral dilemmas at stake, she decided after all to convene the first, inaugural meeting of the National Council of Judiciary. The meeting is to take place on 27 April. The decision was met with dismay on the part of some lawyers and relief on the part of others. Generally, however, it did not prompt any particularly strong responses on either side. But the decision is momentous, both in its practical consequences and as a matter of principle.

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The Pisciotti Saga: A Duel in Karlsruhe as Finale?

The arrest of the Italian businessman Romano Pisciotti at Frankfurt Airport on 17 June 2013 has been the cause of many judicial decisions. The latest, if not last, was rendered this week by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Considering the reasoning of the Court, the last decision on this matter might actually come from the German Federal Court of Justice: The German supreme court might get to answer the thorny question whether or not the German Federal Constitutional Court had violated EU law by not referring the case to the CJEU. Such an unprecedented clash between federal courts would surely be a worthy coronation of a long saga.

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Syria and the Humanitarian Reprisal – President Trump’s Poisonous Gift to International Law?

Among the many unwanted gifts Donald Trump has given international law as of yet, this may very well prove to be the worst: the humanitarian reprisal. Forcible countermeasures, so-called reprisals, were standard practice in order to enforce violations of international obligations at least until World War I and continued to be used and accepted even in the inter-war period. Not infrequently, they led to wider military conflicts. Thus, under the post-1945 international legal order established by the UN Charter, reprisals do not constitute licit countermeasures and in fact are covered by the prohibition of the use of force in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

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The Charming Smile of Viktor Orbán

The political campaign leading up to the recent Hungarian general elections was deeply flawed. One of the constitutionally suspicious steps of the party in power (Fidesz) was to blur the lines between the official communication of the Government (as a constitutional organ) and the campaign messages of Fidesz (as a candidate party). Unfortunately, none of the state institutions involved in the adjudication of the case could adequately address the constitutional issue.

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The Strange (German) Case of Mr. Puigdemont’s European Arrest Warrant

The decision by the Oberlandesgericht of Schleswig in the Puigdemont case is a flawed ruling that seriously undermines the effectiveness of the European arrest warrant, and I would even say its future survival. It is also a manifest example of mistrust between courts of Member States, the type of conduct that destroys the foundations of mutual recognition and judicial cooperation.

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Judicial Independence as a Precondition for Mutual Trust

The Celmer case calls for us to reflect on the question what role judicial authorities can and should play in ensuring compliance with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF) in other EU Member States. In our view, judicial authorities ultimately have an independent responsibility to put a halt to surrenders, in case the wanted person’s fair trial rights are put in peril due to a general lack of judicial independence in the issuing state. At the same time, the political responsibility for balancing diverse EU constitutional principles needs to be borne by democratically elected institutions. Therefore, the court of the executing state should not only halt or suspend judicial cooperation in the event that persuasive pieces of evidence point to a violation of the values shared by the EU and the Member States in the issuing state, but it should also freeze the case awaiting a resolution of the matter from political actors.

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The Consensus Fights Back: European First Principles Against the Rule of Law Crisis (part 2)

For the EU to have a chance against the rising politics of resentment, the language, and perspectives through which the EU looks at the member states, must be challenged and change. “Essential characteristics of EU law” must go today beyond traditional “First Principles” of supremacy and direct effect, to embrace the rule of law, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and enforceability of these principles as part of the ever-evolving consensus.

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