POSTS BY Laurent Pech

Defending the Open Society against its Enemies

On 18 June 2020, in the case of Commission v Hungary (Transparency of associations), the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice held that Hungarian authorities “introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions on foreign donations to civil society organisations” when it adopted a new legislation on NGO in 2017. How will the Hungarian government react? Six potential scenarios can be outlined from not doing anything (scenario 1) – an unlikely option due to the threat of pecuniary sanctions – to full and good faith compliance with the judgment resulting in the total repeal of the Lex NGO (scenario 6) – equally unlikely. Between these two, four additional ones may be foreseen.

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The Schrödinger’s Advocate General

We know Brexit means Brexit but should it also mean violating EU Primary Law? Eleanor Sharpston QC, one of the Advocates General of the European Court of Justice, launched an unprecedented legal action “against the EU and her own judicial colleagues after attempts were made to sack her”: The national governments of 27 EU Member States decided to terminate her appointment early. Why? Because Brexit ought to mean Brexit or so it seems.

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National Courts Cannot Override CJEU Judgments

The European Union is a community based on the rule of law. The EU legal order is the backbone that holds the EU together, and the German Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling in Weiss poses a profound threat to that legal order. This threat goes far beyond the potential consequences of the Weiss ruling for European monetary policy. We write this statement to express our shared view that the German Court’s assertion that it can declare that a CJEU judgment “has no binding force in Germany” is untenable and must be forcefully rejected. We also write to challenge those versions of scholarship on constitutional pluralism and constitutional identity that would defend the authority of any national court to make such a ruling and that helped (even if unintentionally) encourage it to do so.

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When Will the EU Commission Act?

When can we expect the European Commission to launch an infringement action against the “muzzle law”? When will the European Commission act to sanction Polish authorities’ refusal to comply with the Court of Justice’s A. K. preliminary ruling of 19 November 2019? When will the European Commission apply for financial sanctions following Polish authorities’ public refusal to immediately and fully comply with the Court of Justice’s interim relief order of 8 April 2020 in respect of the so-called “disciplinary chamber”? When will the European Commission launch an infringement action in respect of the unlawful actions of the so-called “Constitutional Tribunal”?

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Protecting Polish Judges from the Ruling Party’s “Star Chamber”

For the third time, the ECJ has intervened in the subjugation of the judiciary in member states. Its injunction against Poland’s “disciplinary chamber” is an important step. But unless Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission starts facing up reality, winning legal battles will not prevent losing another member state, after Hungary, to autocracy.

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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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1460 Days Later: Rule of Law in Poland R.I.P. (Part II)

Writing a year ago, we warned that the situation in Poland “has deteriorated further to the point of threatening the functioning of the whole EU legal order and therefore, the future of the EU’s internal market itself.” This is no longer a mere threat but a clear and present danger. Stalling for time would be irresponsible. On current trajectory, it is only a matter of time before Poland’s rule of law default eventually triggers a knock-on process of legal disintegration.

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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 European Parliament Sidelined

When the Council adopted the first set of procedural rules governing Article 7(1) TEU hearings in July 2019, it unilaterally decided to make the Commission the proxy for the Parliament. This post will show how the Council’s differential treatment of the Commission and the Parliament as activating bodies under Article 7(1) is not compatible with EU primary law and goes against in particular the principle of institutional balance.

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