POSTS BY Kim Lane Scheppele

Open Letter to the President of the European Commission regarding Poland’s “Muzzle Law”

The current procrastination is akin to dereliction of duty: Waiting to bring infringement actions and to fail to simultaneously seek interim measures when the rule of law in a Member State is so obviously and blatantly deteriorating on an industrial scale only means that the Commission faces a far more serious and intractable problem to deal with later.

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Open Letter to the President of the European Commission

Ever since the European Commission initiated a third infringement procedure in respect to the recurrent attacks on the rule of law by Polish authorities last April, the situation has continued to seriously deteriorate. It is now upon the Commission to promptly submit to the European Court of Justice an application for interim measures in the infringement case C-791/19 Commission v Poland now pending before the Court of Justice.

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The Tyranny of Values or the Tyranny of One-Party States?

In his contribution ‘Fundamentals on Defending European Values,’ Armin von Bogdandy counsels caution. His arguments are wise in normal times. But we no longer live in normal times. The current governments of at least two EU Member States, Hungary and Poland, are engaged in normative freelancing with the explicit aim of making future democratic rotation impossible. The rogue governments we see today are undermining the values of the European Union when the EU is more popular in these Member States than their own governments are.

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Never Missing an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity: The Council Legal Service Opinion on the Commission’s EU budget-related rule of law mechanism

Regrettably, we need to add the Council’s Legal Service to the list of key EU actors that seem intent on ignoring the existential threat to the Union posed by the spreading rule of law rot amongst EU member governments. In a (non-public) opinion on the proposed regulation of the Commission to create rule of law conditionality in the multi-annual financial framework adopted on 25 October 2018, the CLS indeed put forward multiple unpersuasive legal arguments to claim that the Commission’s proposal cannot be adopted. With this opinion, the CLS is advising the Council to actually prevent other institutions of the EU from doing their job to uphold and defend the set of common values on which the EU is based.

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How to Stop Funding Autocracy in the EU

The EU finds itself in the perverse situation of providing some of the largest transfers of funds precisely to those governments who most prominently thumb their nose at its democratic and rule-of-law norms. The legal debate about this misses the fact that the EU already has a sufficient legal basis to suspend the flow of funds to states in which rule-of-law norms are systematically violated. The real problem to date has not been the lack of adequate legal tools, but the lack of political will on the part of the European Commission to use the tools that already exist.

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Rule of Law Retail and Rule of Law Wholesale: The ECJ’s (Alarming) “Celmer” Decision

A craving for the rule of law can be satisfied in two ways.   You can invoke it legally through a case-by-case checking of its presence in any particular instance (though of course, retail assessment means you’re at the mercy of the court near you) or you can better guarantee a steady and plentiful delivery by contracting wholesale, thus providing a legal constraint on the supplier’s ability to deviate.   This week’s decision of the European Court of Justice in the “Celmer” case (Case C-216/18 PPU, Minister for Justice and Equality v LM) tells us that the rule of law is now available retail in the European Union, but it is not now – and probably can never be – available wholesale.  

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