POSTS BY Kim Lane Scheppele

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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