15 Juli 2021

Kampf oder diplomatischer Ausgleich?

Nachdem nun die Europäische Kommission angekündigt hat, sie werde das Urteil des BVerfG zum Gegenstand eines Vertragsverletzungsverfahrens machen, hat der frühere Gerichtspräsident Andreas Vosskuhle die Vermutung geäußert, dass die Europäische Kommission und der EuGH in einem kollusiven Zusammenwirken danach strebten, die Europäische Union unter der Hand in einen europäischen Bundesstaat zu verwandeln. Die Auseinandersetzung zwischen den beiden höchsten Gerichten entwickelt sich damit zu einem subkutan ausgetragenen Verfassungsdrama, das allmählich auch eine breitere Öffentlichkeit beunruhigen muss. Continue reading >>
14 Juli 2021

Human Rights As Hate Speech

On 15 June 2021, the Hungarian Parliament passed Act no. LXXIX of 2021 which pursued a homophobic and transphobic agenda, curtailing the rights of LGBTQI people. The law was received with unprecedentedly harsh criticism, to which the Hungarian government responded in a resolution, adopted on 6 July. In it, human rights arguments are dismissed as a form of Western indoctrination. Continue reading >>

An Appeal to Polish Authorities

On 23 June, Bartosz Kramek, a Polish activist and the Chair of the Supervisory Board of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), a Poland-based international NGO on the frontlines of the fight for the rule of law in the country, was arrested by he Internal Security Agency. Mr Kramek is currently under unconditional pre-trial detention. The court approved placing him under detention with a bail of 300,000 PLN to be delivered by 8 July 2021. The prosecutor filed an objection, which means that, irrespective of the payment, Mr Kramek will not be released until the court’s decision becomes final, that is, until the second-instance court examines the prosecutor’s appeal. If the court agrees, a well-known government critic and civic activist will be put behind bars for at least 3 months, making him a political prisoner in an EU Member State. Continue reading >>
13 Juli 2021

Machines Learning the Rule of Law

On 21 April 2021, the European Commission proposed the world’s first Artificial Intelligence Act, with the intention to explicitly protect the rule of law against the “rule of technology”. Despite this expressed goal, the normative power of the regulation raises serious concerns from the perspective of fundamental rights protection. Continue reading >>

Two Almost Identical Chambers Doing the Same Job Twice

On July 8th, the Italian Parliament adopted in the last reading an amendment to the constitution which lowers the voting age in Senate elections from 25 to 18 years. At first glance, an ode to democracy: the amendment eventually grants the right to vote for the upper chamber of the national Parliament to some 4 million young citizens. In reality, the amendment is the (so far) last step of a fragmented and schizophrenic set of reforms that are gradually dismantling the logic of the constitution of 1948 without proposing an alternative constitutional strategy. Continue reading >>
12 Juli 2021

An Ordinary Result for the Rule of Law

Late on Wednesday 7 July, former South African President Jacob Zuma turned himself in to police. He thus just about complied with the Constitutional Court’s judgment on 29 June, which found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment. This is not a victory for the rule of law. It simply is the rule of law. Continue reading >>
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The Limits of Indirect Deterrence of Asylum Seekers

The ECtHR judgment M.A. v. Denmark is significant for several reasons. Firstly, because it adds to an already growing international criticism of Denmark’s asylum and immigration policy. Secondly, because the judgment helps clarify the Court’s position on an issue, family reunification for refugees, where case law has hitherto been somewhat ambiguous, and where several European States have introduced new restrictions since 2015. Third, and finally, the judgment represents – to paraphrase Harold Koh - another “way station…in the complex enforcement” of migrant and refugee rights by international human rights institutions. Continue reading >>
09 Juli 2021

Visibility and Crime at Sea

On 30th June 2021, search-and-rescue activists from Sea-Watch witnessed a brutal attack by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard against a migrant vessel carrying 64 during an attempted pushback. Now, prosecutors in Sicily have launched an investigation against the Libyan Coast Guard for “attempted shipwreck.” This the first time, a European court opens an investigation against the Libyan Coast Guard, and the fact that an Italian court should do so bears legal and political importance. Continue reading >>

Rights that are not Illusory

On 8 July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in case Shahzad v. Hungary, concerning the denial of access to an asylum procedure and the forced removal of a Pakistani national by Hungarian police officers. The court found that the acts violated the prohibition of collective expulsion as well as the right to an effective remedy. With this decision, the Court on the one hand straightens out some possible misunderstandings, on the other hand returns to the line of argument opened in N.D. and N.T. v. Spain in ways that should be considered more closely. Continue reading >>

Verfassungswidrige Staatsnähe

Am 22.06.2021 haben die Bundestagsabgeordneten der Fraktionen Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, der FDP und der Linken beim Bundesverfassungsgericht einen Antrag auf abstrakte Normenkontrolle im Hinblick auf eine Regelung des saarländischen Mediengesetzes eingereicht. Diese sieht die Wahl und die vorzeitige Abberufung des Direktors der Saarländischen Medienanstalt durch den Landtag vor. Das ist mit dem Grundsatz der Staatsferne der Medien nicht vereinbar. Continue reading >>
08 Juli 2021

Taking the Law Seriously?

One might wonder whether the Commission’s attack on its “friends” in Germany is designed simply to detract attention away from its impotence in the face of growingly-explicit authoritarianism in the Orbán and Kaczyński orbits. We might dismiss the matter with a wry smile were it not for that fact that the Commission is also attacking honest efforts to solve the rule of law dilemmas posed by the original sin of the construction of Economic Union, as well as the well-meaning judicial search for solution to the impossible supremacy-sovereignty conundrum. The PSPP Judgment is far from perfect and has unleashed sometimes rough controversies; however, the tacit approval given to the Commission by so many in their silence about the new proceedings can surely only act to shore up authoritarian egos, concomitantly foreclosing creative judicial responses to our on-going European dilemma of how to maintain and strengthen the rule of law in integration. Continue reading >>
07 Juli 2021

The EU Cannot Save Us

Many EU and comparative constitutional law scholars have condemned the Polish and Hungarian governments and urged the EU to address the democratic decay and the rule of law deterioration in Poland and Hungary. When the EU fails to deliver, they harshly criticize them and put forward reform proposals. In substance, I agree with much of that. Nevertheless, I would put forward two arguments. The first is that we should be realistic about what we expect these reforms could achieve. The second is that constitutionalists should stop urging the EU to crack down on Poland and Hungary. Instead, they should focus on helping the resilient factors within these countries. Continue reading >>

Strasbourg and San José Close Ranks

At the end of 2020, for the first time in its more than 40 years of jurisprudential history, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights declared the arbitrary dismissals of two public prosecutors to be unconventional. Not only judges but also prosecutors are increasingly subject to threats to their independence, both in Latin America and Europe, as well as in other regions. This article addresses the question of whether the same judicial guarantees apply to public prosecutors and attorneys as to judges and looks at how the Inter-American Court sought inspiration from the precedents of the European Court of Human Rights. Continue reading >>

The New EU Climate Law

On 30 June 2021, the European Parliament and the Council signed the EU Climate Law. The Law has drawn a lot of attention, stirred not least because of its head-line grabbing name. Was it merely meant to be a symbolic law to enshrine the EU’s climate objectives into law and celebrate the EU Green Deal? Or was it meant to be a new governance framework that changes the way decisions are taken on EU and Member State level? Continue reading >>
06 Juli 2021

Quarantäne für vollständig geimpfte Reiserückkehrer?

Portugal und Russland gelten neben anderen Staaten ab dem 7. Juli 2021 nur noch als Hochinzidenzgebiete, nicht mehr als Virusvariantengebiete. Ansonsten bleibt es aber dabei: Für Reiserückkehrer aus Virusvariantengebieten besteht trotz vollständiger Impfung weiter eine Absonderungspflicht. Dies ist einerseits verfassungsrechtlich bedenklich, weil nicht klar ist, ob dieser Grundrechtseingriff überhaupt geeignet ist, den Zweck des Gesundheitsschutzes zu erfüllen. Zum anderen ist dies ein rechtspolitisch ungünstiges Signal für die Impfkampagne in Deutschland, die in absehbarer Zeit ins Stocken geraten könnte. Continue reading >>

A New Constitutional Dawn for Unionism?

In the recent High Court decision on the legislation regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol, the court delivers a number of messages which are suitable to deepen divisions in Northern Ireland, and classes international treaties as merely political compromises not suitable for adjudication. If these views were confirmed before the UK Supreme Court, the EU or anyone else would be well advised to be very careful when concluding agreements with the UK, and to pay close attention to effective enforcement mechanisms beyond UK courts. Continue reading >>

Staatstrojaner für Nachrichtendienste

Der Bundestag hat am 10. Juni 2021 das Gesetz zur Anpassung des Verfassungsschutzrechts verabschiedet, das künftig allen Nachrichtendiensten den Einsatz der reinen und der erweiterten Quellen-Telekommunikationsüberwachung (Quellen-TKÜ) erlaubt. Der Weg nach Karlsruhe ist naheliegend. Denn mit der erweiterten Quellen-TKÜ für Nachrichtendienste handelt es sich um eine noch eingriffsintensivere Maßnahme als bereits 2018 mit der Einführung der Quellen-TKÜ in der Strafprozessordnung. Continue reading >>
05 Juli 2021

Im selben Boot

Den Weltmeeren geht das Leben aus. Würden sich düstere Vorhersagen bewahrheiten, wären die Ozeane im Jahr 2048 leergefischt. Zur Überfischung tragen auch staatliche Subventionen bei. Am 15. Juli 2021 könnten sich die Mitgliedstaaten der Welthandelsorganisation (WTO) auf den Abschluss eines Abkommens über das Verbot von Fischereisubventionen einigen, um dieses Problem anzugehen. Ein Vertragsentwurf liegt seit dem 11. Mai 2021 vor. Doch der Teufel steckt wie üblich im Detail: Beim näheren Hinsehen offenbart der Entwurf Schwachstellen, die Zweifel daran aufwerfen, ob das Subventionsverbotsregime dem Leben unter Wasser spürbar dienen wird. Continue reading >>
04 Juli 2021

The Grande Synthe Saga Continues

France’s highest administrative court ruled that the French government had failed to take sufficient action to mitigate climate change and ordered it to take additional measures to redress that failure. The Grande Synthe II decision of 1 July 2021 follows the findings by the Conseil d’État in a previous decision that France’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets constitute legal obligations that are enforceable against the state. However, how, and when to redress France’s failure have been, to a broad extent, left to the discretion of the government. This all but ensures the Grande Synthe saga to continue. Continue reading >>
02 Juli 2021

So that the Name Hungarian Regain its Dignity

We believe that the replacement of the Fundamental Law is necessary, with a rule of law constitution that restores freedom. The new document should be one created by a democratic constituent power according to newly enacted rules, making every effort to avoid civil war and its usually accompanying violence. In its process of drafting the role of the 1989 round table can be a model, even if we cannot count on the acceptance of its new constitutional draft by 2/3 of the parliament elected in 2022. Continue reading >>