12 April 2024

States’ Extraterritorial Jurisdiction for Climate-Related Impacts

States’ extraterritorial jurisdiction was one of the hot topics decided by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Duarte Agostinho. Strictly speaking, the “lack of it” led the ECtHR to declare the complaint inadmissible with respect to all defendant States except Portugal. This finding is in line with previous ECtHR case law but highlights a gap in human rights protection and creates a mismatch between the ECtHR’s case law and that of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

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Climate Litigation reaches Italian Courts

With Giudizio Universale, climate litigation has found its way to Italy. This case has many aspects in common with the general transnational phenomenon, both in terms of the structure and content of the legal arguments used. The case highlights the difficulties that courts face in view of the high social expectations connected to this kind of proceedings.

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11 April 2024

Globuli für Umweltjuristen

Sind Gerichte als Institutionen des einzelfallbezogenen Rechtsschutzes geeignete Einrichtungen zur Bewältigung der Klimakrise? Könnten sie die sicherlich notwendigen gesamtgesellschaftlichen und globalen Transformationsprozesse anleiten? Bernhard Wegener bezieht klar Stellung gegen die „zuckersüße Illusion von Climate Justice“. 

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The Meaning of Carbon Budget within a Wide Margin of Appreciation

Although the KlimaSeniorinnen judgment discusses a number of rights of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), including Article 6 (right of access to a court), Article 2 (right to life), and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), the focus of this blog post is on its discussion of Article 8 (right to private, home and family life). The question raised by that discussion is whether the judgment is one that will “frighten the horses” and lead to oppositional cries of judicial overreach around the separation of powers, or if it is more an unexceptional case of “move on, nothing to see here.” My argument is that the judgment is mostly the latter but that it has what, in computer gaming terms, is known as an “Easter egg” – a hidden element included by the developers to surprise and reward those who look carefully. That could turn out to be more controversial.

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10 April 2024
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Enforcement of the Digital Markets Act

Since March 2024, the undertakings Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Byte-Dance/TikTok, Meta, and Microsoft must comply with the obligations of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Within the first month after the 6-months implementation period has ended, the European Commission opened investigations against Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Meta for non-compliance with the obligations in the DMA. All proceedings can be traced back to related competition law cases. However, only two proceedings follow the same reasoning as their competition law role models, while the case against Meta reveals that the approaches under the DMA can and will deviate significantly to those under competition law and data protection law.

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09 April 2024
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Historic and Unprecedented

The three much-awaited judgments rendered by the European Court of Human Rights on 9 April 2024 are truly historic and unprecedented. In Verein Klimaseniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, the Grand Chamber established that climate change is 'one of the most pressing issues of our times' and poses a threat to human rights. With this ruling, the Court confirmed that States have a positive obligation to adopt measures to mitigate climate change under Article 8 ECHR, the right to family and private life. The judgments will undeniably set the tone for climate litigation in the years to come. It will impact both litigation and other procedures before other international courts.

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The Transformation of European Climate Change Litigation

In a transformative moment for European and global climate litigation, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled today that the state has a positive duty to adopt, and effectively implement in practice, regulations and measures capable of mitigating the existing and potentially irreversible future effects of climate change. In Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland (“KlimaSeniorinnen”), the Court held that by failing to put in place a domestic regulatory framework for climate change mitigation, the Swiss government violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the right to respect for private and family life. The judgment is a milestone for human rights protection.

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08 April 2024

To Define Is Just to Define

Social media allows users to share content worldwide. This also enables users to distribute illegal content. The laws of the EU Member States vary greatly when it comes to what content they consider to be illegal, especially regarding hate speech. Thus, it is important which national law applies in cross-border cases concerning online content. Ultimately, this question is closely linked to the broader reshuffling of power in the digital sphere: will it be actual ‘law’ that platforms enforce online or norms made by platforms themselves? So far, the law of 27 Member States plus the EU itself remains utterly chaotic compared to the more uniform Terms of Service (ToS) of the internet giants.

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04 April 2024
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Strengthening the Resilience of the Rule of Law through Democracy

For almost a decade now, the European Union (EU) has been struggling with the erosion of the rule of law in some of its Member States. The IEP explored the various pillars of the rule of law resilience, culminating in the recent RESILIO report. Unsurprisingly, the independent judiciary and effective public administration prove to be key for the functioning of the rule of law. To remain resilient, the rule of law needs a solid democratic political culture anchored in a robust civil society, independent media, and a sound public debate. Henceforth, a long-term investment in democracy is the best way to strengthen the resilience of the rule of law.

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Die Sperrklausel ist keine Lösung

Es ist fraglich, ob es tatsächlich die Anzahl kleiner Parteien im Europaparlament ist, die dessen Handlungsfähigkeit gefährdet. Eher geht die Gefahr wohl von der zunehmenden Anzahl an rechtsextremen und antieuropäischen Abgeordneten aus, die es sich zum Wahlziel gemacht haben, eine Sperrminorität zu erreichen und damit das Europaparlament zu blockieren – und die nicht notwendigerweise aus kleinen Parteien stammen. Um die Handlungsfähigkeit des Parlaments zu sichern, sollten sich Politiker:innen darauf konzentrieren, Wählerstimmen für eine stabile pro-europäische Mehrheit zurückzugewinnen.

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02 April 2024
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Moderation Made in Europe

The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) has been fully applicable for a little more than a month now. The conditions are thus in place for the emergence of the out-of-court dispute settlement (ODS) ecosystem envisaged in Article 21 DSA, arguably the DSA’s most original contribution to securing digital platform users’ rights. In this post, we try to envision the shape such an ecosystem might take over the next few years in the key area of social media content moderation (SMCM). We argue that the DSA may create an adjudication system dominated by a few ODS providers backed by public-private partnerships and ready to work in concert with the complaint-handling mechanisms set up by the platforms themselves.

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28 March 2024

The Kovačević Case Revisited

On 20 March 2023 the Council of the European Union gave Bosnia and Hercegovina green light to start accession negotiations. However, despite this political endorsement, BiH must fulfill the conditionality criteria, including a series of six judgments by the ECtHR relating to the predetermined ethnic keys. The last case, Kovačević v. BiH, was referred to the Grand Chamber in December 2023. If the Court follows its previous case law, this should force the mono-ethnic political parties and their leaders as well as the EU institutions to insist on de-blocking the constitutional impasse for any realistic steps towards European integration.

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27 March 2024

Party Bans and Populism in Europe

In the latest episode in a decades-long conversation about militant democracy, the growing electoral success and radicalization of Alternative for Germany have relaunched debates about the appropriateness of restricting the political rights of those who might use those rights to undermine the liberal democratic order. While it is typical for dictatorships to ban parties, democracies also do so, but for different reasons and with compunction. Party bans respond to varying rationales which have evolved over time. However, a ban on the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany would be out of step with more general patterns of opposition to such parties in Europe.

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23 March 2024

Inquiring into the Technicalities of EU Law

It may sound trivial, but I argue that the technicalities of EU law have been neglected and that an in-depth inquiry is lacking. To see why such an inquiry might be interesting, we must go beyond the traditional understanding of legal technicalities and see them as protagonists in their own right. We need to focus on lawyers’ knowledge practices and to inquire into the transformative power of legal technicalities.

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A Critical Assessment of How We ‘Speak’ EU Law

Although EU law touches on several profound and complex ontologies of ways of living and being in the European polity, these meanings are usually not reflected in how lawyers and legal scholars ‘speak’ EU law. The reason for this is that EU law is formulated in a strikingly abstract and univocal way, leaving little room for an in-depth consideration of the different interpretations of the law by reference to the various values and conceptions of the individual and social institutions that it underlies.

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The Janus-Faced Culture of EU Law

Can there be a cultural study of EU law? The notion of legal culture is notoriously tricky. It is both omnipresent and yet seemingly ungraspable. Can we nevertheless hope to dispel the mystery of legal culture, and seize this notion as an object of study? And can it provide a method to improve our understanding of EU law?

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22 March 2024

Studying Migrations and Borders from a Pluridisciplinary Perspective

I chose for years to consider migrations and borders from a pluridisciplinary perspective. Such a pluridisciplinary approach reveals to be demanding: it needs both to be developed with discipline, and to be opened to wanderings. You have to accept to be confronted with personal controversies, to be faced with internal discourse on the method.

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Europe’s Judicial Narratives

Through the representations of Europe that it conjures up and conveys, the European Court of Justice significantly influences the EU’s self-perceived identity. In that sense, it contributes to the shaping of a European polity, i.e. a European political community united by shared representations about its history and identity.

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The Triumph of EU Law in Context?

Whereas law-in-context analyses of Community law were relatively rare in the early 1990s, they seemed to flourish from that point onwards. Unsurprisingly, even “mainstream” journals, such as the Common Market Law Review, now strive to attract pieces that combine legal analysis with social, political or economic insights. Does that mean that we are all “contextualists” now? Not in my view.

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21 March 2024

Colonialism and EU Law

In 1957, when the Treaty of Rome was signed and founded what later became the European Union (EU), four out of six of the original Member States were colonial powers. An important methodological question for EU law research is how this historical fact has affected the development of EU law. I argue that answering the question of how Europe’s centuries long history of colonialism has shaped EU law is not just a historical exercise but also a starting point for an examination of EU law of today.

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20 March 2024
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The Spanish Amnesty, the Conflict with Catalonia, and the Rule of Law

The Spanish amnesty for the Catalan independence movement is a victory for the rule of law, rather than a defeat. It is not an exemption from punishment otherwise due, but instead a reflection of the fact that the acts now amnestied should never have been subject to criminal prosecution in the first place. It is thus also a way for Spain to return to compliance with its obligations under European and international human rights law.

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EU Law Through the State Lens

The conceptual apparatus that frames our knowledge of EU administrative law today has its origins in the legal scholarship that established a new field in the turn of the 1980s and during the 1990s. This scholarly field owes much of its uncontested existence to a series of major handbooks, which systematized materials that hitherto had been sparse and scattered, first in German, then in English and later still in French. Revisiting the past may provide some clues as to the role legal scholars can and should have in a period in which we may be witnessing an epochal transition in Europe.

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