The von der Leyen Commission and the Future of the Rule of Law

Ursula von der Leyen’s promotional tour before her election did not turn out well. She failed to point to substantive rule of law issues, rather she traced back the division between Eastern and Western European state to emotional components. This text takes a look beyond the political rhetoric and explores what the new Commission might entail for the rule of law in the EU.

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Fundamentals on Defending European Values

In 2007, the Treaty makers ennobled the former fundamental principles of the Treaty on European Union as European values. Respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and the protection of human rights have henceforth transcended the sphere of ‘merely’ legal matters. Today, however, this step feeds a perception of a deep crisis: when founding values appear weak or controversial, the entire house may crumble.

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Old friends, new friends? Prospects for EU’s cooperation with intergovernmental organisations in promotion of the rule of law

In its July 2019 blueprint for action on the rule of law, the European Commission has outlined three main avenues of action on the rule of law in the EU: prevention, response and promotion.

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The Rule of Law Crisis as the Watershed Moment for the European Constitutionalism

Is a soft law instrument the right object of assessment in a situation where most commentators on the ongoing rule of law crisis summarise previous EU actions with the statement: too late, too long, too mild? This piece offers a look at the July blueprint for action as a political declaration which provides important general statements regarding the concept of the rule of law within the EU legal system in times of democratic backsliding in Member States.

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When Journalists Weaken Democracy or How to Better Communicate the Rule of Law

Discussing years of controversies between Polish lawyers and the ruling Law and Justice party, the law professor Marcin Matczak concluded: “We won the legal discussions, but we lost the public debate.” Despite manifest violations of the law, Poland’s ruling party did not lose votes in recent parliamentary elections. In Hungary the situation seems to have been even worse. The public debate was not lost, it hardly took place. That’s a problem.

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This is not the End: What lies ahead for the VDL Commission in terms of Brexit

Brexit is the ‘shock’ that united Europe according to the President-elect of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. There’s certainly an element of truth to this. Despite some occasional signs of disagreement, the EU-27 have given every show of maintaining a unified position in all stages of the Brexit process so far. There may be a tempting political expediency of prioritising a unified position on Brexit (no doubt in ‘protection of the European project as a whole’) above holding individual Member States’ governments’ to account for measures which further and entrench rule of law backsliding. This post aims to outline only some of those challenges, and highlight outstanding issues, in the years of the Brexit process ahead.

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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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The Perils of Passivity in the Rule of Law Crisis: A Response to von Bogdandy

In a recent contribution to Verfassungsblog, Professor Armin von Bogdandy observes, “European constitutionalism is perhaps facing a ‘constitutional moment’. But rather than calling on the EU to stand up to increasingly authoritarian member governments, von Bogdandy concludes that, “Powerful arguments suggest caution.” His admonitions offer a lesson into how scholars can inadvertently propagate what political economist Albert Hirschman described in his 1991 book as The Rhetoric of Reaction.

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Enforcement of EU Values and the Tyranny of National Identity – Polish Examples and Excuses

Professor A. von Bogdandy in his recent piece published at Verfassungsblog analyzes difficulties regarding enforcement of the EU values. He argues that the application of Treaty provisions relating to EU fundamental values should be cautious in order to avoid controversy or pressure. However, the ‘national identity argument’ is not convincing in the Polish case. It cannot be used by a Member State in an arbitrary or blanket way without being checked and confirmed.

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