POSTS BY Laurent Pech

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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From “Nuclear Option” to Damp Squib?

To date, three Article 7(1) TEU hearings have been held in respect of Poland (26 June, 18 September and 11 December 2018) and one in respect of Hungary (16 September 2019). The trouble starts with having to obtain the related documents via repeated freedom of information requests. Analysing those documents, however, reveals further significant shortcomings of the procedure.

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The Commission’s Rule of Law Blueprint for Action: A Missed Opportunity to Fully Confront Legal Hooliganism

In its first Communication entitled “Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union” published on 3 April 2019, the Commission offered a useful overview of the state of play while also positively inviting all stakeholders to make concrete proposals so as to enhance the EU’s “rule of law toolbox”. A follow up Communication from July 2019 sets out multiple “concrete actions for the short and medium term”. This post will highlight the most innovative actions proposed by the Commission before highlighting what we view as the main weakness of its blueprint: a reluctance to fully accept the reality of rule of law backsliding.

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How to Address Rule of Law Backsliding in Romania

In this post, we will first summarise the situation in Romania before examining Frans Timmermans’ reaction to the latest evidence of rule of law backsliding there. This post concludes with a possible solution considering the diagnosis offered below: an infringement action based on Article 325 TFEU.

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Holding European Political Parties Accountable – Testing the Horizontal EU Values Compliance Mechanism

The rather obscure horizontal EU values compliance mechanism shall give groups of EU citizens the possibility to hold European political parties accountable for non-compliance with EU values. Actually trying do so, however, may turn out to be just as unsuccessful as the Article 7 TEU procedure.

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Of Red Lines and Red Herring: The EPP’s Delusions about Restraining Orbán

This post will offer an overview of the main EPP’s ‘red lines’ since the EPP leadership first demanded from Prime Minister Orbán that he immediately comply with EU laws and EPP values nearly two years ago, in April 2017. We will show that, contrary to Weber’s claims about EPP values being non-negotiable, Orbán has repeatedly crossed the EPP’s supposed red-lines with impunity. And rather than being restrained by the EPP, Orbán has sought to transform it.

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1095 Days Later: From Bad to Worse Regarding the Rule of Law in Poland (Part I)

On 13 January 2016, exactly three years ago today, the Commission activated the so-called rule of law framework for the very first time with respect to Poland. As things stand today, Polish authorities’ sustained and systematic attacks on the rule of law now more than ever directly threaten the very functioning of the EU legal order.

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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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