12 August 2022

Why Banning Russians from Schengen Is Unlawful

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Prime Minister of Finland and others have been calling for an EU-wide ban of Russian citizens from Schengen visas. Unquestionably, the horrible crimes perpetrated by the Russian state should be punished. But Russians are citizens of a totalitarian state, they are not Putin. And whether we like it or not, there is no legal way under current EU law to adopt a blanket citizenship-based ban against Russians acquiring Schengen visas. Even more: political attention paid to it by persons in leadership positions is deeply surprising, if not irresponsible. Continue reading >>
10 August 2022
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Law must be enforceable

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on 01.08.2022 that administrative decisions refusing family reunification must be open to judicial review with a legal remedy. The decision had been long awaited. The underlying article only provided for a legal remedy “against”, not “for” a transfer decision. The CJEU clearly rejects this view and emphasizes that administrative decisions must generally be subject to judicial review, which is a hindrance to the EU Commission's plans to significantly reduce the number of legal remedies in the revised EU legislation. Continue reading >>
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05 August 2022

The Re-Emergence of the Net Neutrality Debate in Europe

The European online space has been subjected to intensive legal reforms in recent years, and the policy and regulatory debates regarding the role and obligations of tech companies in Europe are far from over. With the rumoured Connectivity Infrastructure Act, the European Commission seeks to compel Big Tech actors to financially contribute to telecommunications infrastructure. This initiative risks opening the pandora's box of net neutrality, and potentially endangers the democratic principles of freedom of expression and pluralism. Continue reading >>
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The EU’s regulatory push against disinformation

Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s surprise bid to buy Twitter questions the wisdom of the current EU efforts to combat the spread of disinformation, which has relied to a large extend on platforms’ voluntary cooperation. Whether successful or not, it raises serious questions on EU disinformation policy’s reliance on platforms’ discretion to moderate this category of speech. It is likely to put pressure on the carefully constructed web of self- and co-regulatory measures and legislation the European Commission has spun to counter the spread of disinformation. Continue reading >>
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04 August 2022

Tesla und die Sicherheit autonomer Fahrzeuge

Im Juni 2022 hat die US-amerikanische National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) eine Untersuchung von Tesla angeordnet, die nicht weniger als 830.000 Fahrzeuge sämtlicher Produktlinien betrifft. Die Behörde ist das amerikanische Pendant zum Kraftfahrtbundesamt und unter anderem für die Sicherheit der zum Straßenverkehr zugelassenen Kraftfahrzeuge zuständig. Die Untersuchung von Tesla betrifft das von diesem Unternehmen eingesetzte Computerprogramm namens „Autopilot“. Continue reading >>
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02 August 2022

Inkonsequenz made in Luxemburg

In diesem Dezember jährt sich die Gründung des Europäischen Gerichtshofes zum 70. Mal. Der EuGH zelebriert diesen runden Geburtstag bereits mit dem Hashtag #CJEUin70days auf dem sozialen Netzwerk Twitter. Nicht nur diese Kampagne, sondern auch die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit des EuGHs über soziale Medien insgesamt scheint dabei nicht im Einklang zu stehen mit der eigenen Rechtsprechung des Gerichtshofs. Continue reading >>
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Marktlogik ist kein Rechtsgebot

Am 21. Juli hat Christine Lagarde das Transmission Protection Instrument (TPI) der EZB vorgestellt. Die Ankündigung des TPI hat in Deutschland, wieder einmal, eine Diskussion um die Rolle der Märkte bei der Beurteilung der öffentlichen Finanzen von Mitgliedstaaten und die Berechtigung der Zentralbanken zum Eingriff in das Marktgeschehen entfacht. Tatsächlich sprechen gewichtige verfassungs- und demokratietheoretische Argumente dagegen, die Anleihepreisbildung ausschließlich dem Markt zu überlassen. Es handelt sich dabei weder um ein Gebot der Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion noch des grundgesetzlichen Demokratieprinzips. Continue reading >>
29 Juli 2022

Karlsruher Türsteher

Diese Woche, am 26. und 27. Juli verhandelte das Bundesverfassungsgericht das „Eigenmittelbeschluss-Ratifizierungsgesetz“ (ERatG). Die politischen Entscheidungen, die in Gestalt des Wiederaufbaufonds „Next Generation EU“ in rechtliche Form gegossen wurden, trafen dabei auf alte Rechtsfragen. Continue reading >>
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28 Juli 2022
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Accessing Information about Abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court decision of 24 June 2022 overruled a half century of precedent supporting a constitutional right to abortion across the U.S. established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. Essentially, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization left the decision on abortion to individual states. The ruling, although astonishing, was not necessarily a surprise, after its draft had leaked a few weeks earlier. But to the surprise of many, almost immediately, Facebook and Instagram started removing posts informing about access to abortion pills, the Associated Press and Vice first reported. Continue reading >>
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21 Juli 2022

On Osman Kavala and Turkish Judicial Failures

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in charge of monitoring compliance with ECtHR rulings, will now deliberate as to how to handle Turkey’s now judicially confirmed failure to release Kavala.  Suspension of Turkey’s membership in the Council of Europe, is an option that is on the table, at least theoretically. The Kavala case is larger than Kavala himself though.  Continue reading >>
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20 Juli 2022

The Government versus the President

A few days ago, the Georgian government filed a constitutional complaint against the President of Georgia to the Constitutional Court. Many in Georgia, and not only in Georgia, think that the government is trying to curtail the powers of the president and punish the president for her pro-European political activities. What is interesting in this context is how strong the government's legal positions really are. Continue reading >>
18 Juli 2022

Holidays with smog

The Polish energy policy is seeing further controversies. The Minister of Climate and the Environment, Anna Moskwa, allowed poor quality coal to be sold for 60 days. This means that, up to 28 August, households are able to buy bituminous coal with a higher content of sulphur and mercury, as well as harmful mining waste, e.g. mining sludge. This decision is already causing considerable controversy not only among climate activists, but also among voivodship (local) authorities that are implementing so-called anti-smog resolutions. Continue reading >>
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12 Juli 2022

The Selective Nature of a pan-European Willkommenskultur

Four months into Russia’s war on Ukraine, there has been a tremendous show of support for Ukrainians fleeing violence and the atrocities of war – in Europe and elsewhere in the world. As is well-known, European states have hammered out pragmatic administrative solutions to accommodate large numbers of incoming person, going to great lengths to provide for beneficial welfare arrangements. Against this backdrop, it may not be unreasonable to present the crisis in Ukraine as a tipping point for humanitarian protection more generally. Continue reading >>
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11 Juli 2022

Fiktive Einheit vor Pluralität

Nun hat also auch der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte in Sachen Tarifeinheitsgesetz entschieden. Wie zuvor schon das BVerfG kommt er zum Ergebnis, dass der neue § 4a TVG in Menschenrechte eingreift, kann sich aber nicht dazu durchringen, Deutschland hierfür zu verurteilen. Und wie bereits im BVerfG haben zwei Richter:innen ihren Widerspruch in einem Sondervotum formuliert. Continue reading >>

Will the Commission Throw the Rule of Law Away in Hungary? 

The Hungarian government is publicly saying that it is nearing a deal with the European Commission to unlock the Recovery Funds that have been withheld because the Commission has not yet approved Hungary’s plan for spending those funds.    Apparently, Hungary has agreed to four conditions that will allow the €7bn worth of grants and about €8bn in low-interest loans to be approved.  But if those are any indication of the price that the European Commission will extract for comprehensive violation of the rule of law, the European Commission is making a colossal mistake. Continue reading >>
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07 Juli 2022

Untying the Ties that (don’t) Bind

In his letter to MEP Daniel Freund of 17 June 2022, European Council President Charles Michel argued that neither he, as President, nor the European Council have the power to exclude democratically unaccountable representatives of a Member State from that institution. But President Michel’s apparent recourse to a literal reading of Article 15(2) TEU – which fails to consider its relationship with other provisions relating to the composition of the European Council – is not convincing. Continue reading >>
30 Juni 2022

The Core of the European Public Space

Increasing the visibility of the constitutional fundamentals of the Union takes on existential importance in times of constitutional reckoning or, as some call it in more ominous terms, in times of “capitulation”. It is for that reason that art. 19(1) TEU should be amended to reflect the case law of the Court of Justice and thus to codify the core that binds the Member States to the discipline of the legal order. Continue reading >>
29 Juni 2022
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Europe Needs a Civil Society Strategy

In a number of EU countries, governments are squeezing civic space, rendering it increasingly hard for civil society to operate. A comprehensive strategic approach to partnering with civil societies would allow the EU to more effectively tackle growing illiberalism and ambivalence about democracy. Continue reading >>
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24 Juni 2022

Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs – Make them Pay!

Russland und seine starken Männer sollen buchstäblich für die Kriegsschäden in der Ukraine zahlen. Die Kommission schlägt vor, die Durchsetzung von Sanktionen mit unionsweit einheitlichen Strafandrohungen zu stärken und auf diesem Weg elegant zugleich einen Rechtsgrund für die Einziehung involvierter Vermögenswerte zu schaffen. Diesem Vorhaben stehen ungeachtet seiner politischen Opportunität erhebliche sanktionstechnische, unionsrechtliche und vor allem strafrechtliche Bedenken entgegen, die erhebliche Zweifel an Zulässigkeit und Erfolgsaussichten nähren. Continue reading >>
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Fundamental Rights at the Digital Border

We are witnessing the emergence of the EU’s ‘digital border’: an ecosystem of interoperable databases to expand the surveillance and control of the movement of third-country nationals. In this blog post, we discuss one of the latest additions to this ecosystem - the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, or ETIAS in short - and argue that the system as it is currently set up violates the right to data protection laid down in Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, especially in light of the CJEU’s PNR judgment earlier this week. In many ways, we consider ETIAS to be a test case for a much wider roll-out of such often AI-powered technologies in the field of border control. Continue reading >>
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23 Juni 2022

A Directive altered beyond recognition

On 21 June 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union rendered its decision in the preliminary ruling procedure on the fate of the PNR Directive. The Court had a chance to decisively answer one of the most crucial questions facing European security law: Is indiscriminate mass data retention for and the technology-induced analysis of ordinary human behavior compatible with fundamental rights? It instead opted for an enigmatic compromise creating a whole host of new questions. It does not change the fact that the PNR Directive survives – as a strange beast altered beyond recognition. Continue reading >>
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Tackling Discrimination in Targeted Advertising

On 21 June Meta and the US Department for Housing and Urban Development released a legal settlement that will restrict Meta’s ability to offer those clients some of its core ad-targeting products. It resolves (for now) a long-running case over discriminatory targeting of housing adverts. Meta is now prohibited from using certain targeting tools in this context, and has promised new tools to ensure more representative targeting. This US lawsuit should be a wake-up call for European regulators, reminding them that taking systemic discrimination seriously requires proactive regulatory reform and enforcement. The relevant provisions of the Digital Services Act (DSA) are largely symbolic. Continue reading >>
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21 Juni 2022

Experimenting with European Democracy

The Conference on the Future of Europe came to an end on 9 May, with the presentation of a final report of 49 recommendations and 329 specific measures to the  presidents of the three EU institutions. While it is unclear what the exact follow-up to the Conference will be, the upcoming Council Summit on 23-24 June will show whether a simple majority of Member States is open to starting the process for a Treaty change. Continue reading >>
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Covering Up and Rewarding the Destruction of the Rule of Law One Milestone at a Time

Once upon a time, when still a candidate for President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen solemnly declared: “there can be no compromise when it comes to respecting the Rule of Law. There never will be.” As it is now clear, this was just Orwellian doublespeak. Continue reading >>
17 Juni 2022

The UK’s anti-legal populism

Calls for UK withdrawal from the ECHR are raised at fairly regular intervals in certain quarters of the Conservative party, but this week various members of the Government, including the Prime Minister. Reason for this was an interim measure by the European Court of Human Rights that stopped a deportation flight to Rwanda. It was entirely predictable that calls for UK withdrawal from the ECHR would resurface. Less predictable for many, are the implications this would hold for the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Continue reading >>
15 Juni 2022

British Bare Necessities

In the latest episode of the Brexit saga, the United Kingdom government has published the Northern Ireland Protocol ('NIP') Bill, by which it seeks to unilaterally disapply large parts of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement (‘WA’) concluded between the UK and the European Union. The British government has shared a summary of its legal position, seeking to justify the NIP Bill on the basis of the doctrine of necessity. However, this justification seems to be a literal, if unconvincing, attempt to make a virtue of necessity. Continue reading >>
14 Juni 2022
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Moving Beyond Token Participation

The concept of human rights due diligence was developed over the past decade as a way for companies to grapple with adverse human rights violations and impacts connected to their business practice, including within their value chains. In February of this year, the European Commission published a proposal for European Union-wide mandatory human rights due diligence for companies that fall under its scope. For such legislation to succeed in advancing the rights of the most affected and to lead to better human rights outcomes for rights-holders, it is crucial to anchor such laws and regulations with not only the perspective of rights-holders but their ongoing involvement. To do otherwise would miss an invaluable opportunity to improve the landscape of business and human rights to center rights-holders in the years to come. Continue reading >>
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13 Juni 2022

Serbia on Hold

Since 3 April 2022, when elections at all levels were held, Serbia has been on hold. Two months after the elections, only the President of Serbia has begun to serve his regular mandate, while the official results of the parliamentary elections are yet to be proclaimed, the new composition of the National Assembly is yet to be convened, and the new government is yet to be formed. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which occurred at the beginning of the election campaign, added to the already tense political situation. Continue reading >>
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09 Juni 2022

How the Data Retention Legislation Led to a National Constitutional Crisis in Portugal

Some weeks ago, the Portuguese Constitutional Court (PCC) triggered a heated political debate on the need to amend the Constitution to grant criminal investigative authorities access to metadata on personal communications. Whilst disagreements between the political branches and the constitutional jurisdiction are common, this conflict is located at a wider critical juncture that intersects EU and national constitutional law, the CJEU, the domestic constitutional court, and ordinary courts. Continue reading >>
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08 Juni 2022

Censuring von der Leyen’s Capitulation on the Rule of Law

The spectre of a motion of censure is looming over the von der Leyen Commission. While this rather extraordinary, perhaps desperate, measure appears unlikely to attain the required number of signatures to be tabled – and even less likely to be adopted by the European Parliament –, this initiative deserves some scrutiny. Perhaps even some praise by those who still believe in the primacy of law over power.  Continue reading >>
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06 Juni 2022

The European Commission Cedes its Crucial Leverage vis-à-vis the Rule of Law in Poland

The worst thing about the European Commission’s decision of 1 June 2022 to approve Poland’s EUR 36 billion national recovery plan, despite this country’s very meek (to put it mildly) assurances about improvements to its rule-of-law situation, is not even its substance, bad though that is. Worse still is the sequencing. Continue reading >>
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03 Juni 2022
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The French Constitutional Council’s Problem with Impartiality

If only one example was needed to show the oligarchic nature of the French political system and the limited power of civil society, the game of musical chairs that was played between the Government and the Constitutional Council in the decision “Association La Sphinx” would be perfect. Two ministers directly involved in the drafting of the challenged policy were also judging the constitutionality of the legislative provisions they themselves brought forward. The Constitutional Council’s rules of procedure dismiss impartiality concerns in such cases. This management of conflicts of interests in this court is unacceptable. Continue reading >>
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02 Juni 2022
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Competition and Conditionality

On 5 April 2022, just two days after the Hungarian national elections, the European Commission formally announced that it would apply the conditionality mechanism enshrined in Regulation 2020/2092 in relation to Hungary. In the past the Commission has frequently addressed issues related to “systemic irregularities, deficiencies and weaknesses in public procurement procedures”. In Hungary, however, it has not probed the enforcement of competition (cartel) law in public tender procedures. The Commission should seize the opportunity to act in this area. Continue reading >>
01 Juni 2022

Just a Feint?

A running joke in the pro-democratic military analyst community is about ridiculing the messages of pro-Russian experts who are pretending that the Russian defeat in the battle of Kyiv was "just a feint". I am afraid that the European Commission just walked into a similar strategic blunder with its deal with the Polish government on the recovery fund and the Supreme Court. Continue reading >>
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25 Mai 2022

Die grenzenlose Aufnahme der ukrainischen Flüchtlinge und was wir daraus lernen

Mit der spontanen Aufnahme der ukrainischen Frauen, Kinder und Hilfsbedürftigen hat die europäische Zivilgesellschaft gezeigt, wie gut sie mit Flüchtlingen interagieren kann, wenn die Grenzen sich öffnen und hemmende Regulierungen entfallen. Die Staaten lernen in den letzten Wochen, eher unterstützend als kontrollierend zu wirken. Diese Erfahrungen sollten motivieren, kritischer als bisher zu hinterfragen, wieweit Einschränkungen der freien Entfaltung Geflüchteter und ihrer Unterstützer sinnvoll sind. Continue reading >>
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„Vielen Dank, Ihre Post ist unbedenklich“

Vor rund zwei Wochen hat die Kommission ihren Entwurf für eine Verordnung zur Bekämpfung des sexuellen Missbrauchs von Kindern vorgestellt. Die damit verbundene Einführung der Überprüfung sämtlicher digital verschickter Inhalte dürfte das größte staatliche Überwachungsvorhaben in Europa seit dem Ende des Kalten Krieges sein und verstößt offenkundig gegen die Grundrechte-Charta. Continue reading >>
21 Mai 2022

Verbraucherinteressen als Teil der öffentlichen Ordnung?

Am 28. Mai 2022 erhält das EGBGB erstmals eine eigene Bußgeldvorschrift. Das überrascht auf den ersten Blick. Bußgelder dienen eigentlich der Wahrung der öffentlichen Sicherheit. Doch die neue Vorschrift impliziert ein neues Verständnis des Verbrauchsgüterkaufs, das über den reinen Warenaustausch hinausgeht. Continue reading >>
20 Mai 2022

The European Union and Preventive (In)Justice

The expansion of the EU counter-terrorism acquis has signified what I have called the preventive turn in European security policy. Preventive justice is understood here as the exercise of state power in order to prevent future acts which are deemed to constitute security threats. There are three main shifts in the preventive justice paradigm: (i) a shift from an investigation of acts which have taken place to an emphasis on suspicion; (ii) a shift from targeted action to generalised surveillance; and, underpinning both, (iii) a temporal shift from the past to the future. Continue reading >>
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Die Europäische Union und präventive (Un-)Gerechtigkeit

Die Ausweitung der EU-Befugnisse im Bereich der Terrorismusbekämpfung steht für die präventive Wende in der europäischen Sicherheitspolitik. Unter Präventivjustiz wird hier die Ausübung staatlicher Macht verstanden, um zukünftige Handlungen zu verhindern, die als Sicherheitsbedrohung angesehen werden. Im Paradigma der Präventivjustiz gibt es drei Hauptverschiebungen: (i) eine Verlagerung von der Untersuchung von Handlungen, die stattgefunden haben, hin zu einer Betonung des Verdachts; (ii) eine Verlagerung von gezielten Maßnahmen hin zu allgemeiner Überwachung; und, was beide untermauert, (iii) eine zeitliche Verlagerung von der Vergangenheit in die Zukunft. Continue reading >>
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18 Mai 2022

GDPR Collective Litigation Against Facebook

The recent CJEU Case C-319/20, Meta Platforms Ireland provides insights on the interpretation of Article 80(2) of the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (GDPR), which regulates representative actions in the data protection field. The Court of Justice specified that actions protecting general interests fall under the scope of Article 80(2) GDPR, but leaves the task unmoved to reconcile this provision with the Directive on Representative Actions (DRA). Continue reading >>
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16 Mai 2022
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Climate Change Litigation Before the ECtHR

Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland is the first case of climate change litigation before the ECtHR where all domestic remedies have been exhausted. The Chamber to which the case had been allocated relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber. This reinforces the potential of the case to become a landmark ruling determining the Court’s approach to climate change.

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13 Mai 2022

Drifting Case-law on Judicial Independence

In a preliminary ruling of 29 March 2022, in case C-132/20 Getin Noble Bank, the CJEU answered questions on judicial independence of judges appointed under an undemocratic regime and of judges appointed before 2018 in an allegedly flawed process. Taking a highly formalistic approach, the Court seeks to preserve judicial dialogue between itself and the national judges – at the expense of the rule of law and judicial independence. Continue reading >>
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12 Mai 2022
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The War in Ukraine, Fake News, and the Digital Epistemic Divide

The ongoing war in Ukraine sheds light on crucial challenges of our digital media landscape. The social media-driven “(mis)information wars” surrounding the Russian invasion expose a growing epistemic divide running through liberal democracies. The regulatory focus on truth, with measures like fact-checking, serves little to cure the larger problems behind this. We should rather use the power of the law to devise new modes of intelligent speech regulation mimicking the functions formerly played by the centralized set-up of communication conditions. Continue reading >>
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11 Mai 2022

RePowerEU and End War by Ending Fossil Fuels

Putin’s criminal war on Ukraine has forced the Commission to say it will ‘RePowerEU’, to end Russian fossil fuels. We must clearly end all fossil fuels, and drive as fast as technology allows to 100% clean energy. To do this we should capitalise upon the vast range of legal options in our European economic constitution: that is the ‘law of enterprise’. The geopolitical situation requires us to see our law as an organic, social whole, and for all private and public actors to be on board. Continue reading >>
05 Mai 2022

Die EU schlägt zurück

Am 27. April 2022 hat die EU-Kommission ihre Initiative zur Bekämpfung missbräuchlicher Klagen gegen öffentliche Beteiligung (sog. SLAPPs) vorgestellt. Die Initiative umfasst einen Vorschlag für eine EU-Richtlinie gegen SLAPPs in Zivilsachen mit grenzüberschreitendem Bezug (im Folgenden: Anti-SLAPP-RL) und eine ergänzende Empfehlung, mit der die Kommission die Mitgliedstaaten auffordert, die Richtlinie überschießend, das heißt auch auf innerstaatliche Sachverhalte und sämtliche Verfahrensarten, umzusetzen und Schulungs- und Sensibilisierungsmaßnahmen zu SLAPPs zu ergreifen. Continue reading >>
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Schengen Restored

On 26 April 2022, the Court of Justice of the EU rendered a ruling in joined cases C-368/20 and C-369/20 stating that Member States of the European Union can re-introduce border controls within the Schengen Zone only under strict conditions. The Court has stepped up as a guardian of the Treaties protecting free movement of people without controls at the internal borders of the EU. At the same time, it has left room for the European and national executives to exercise their function and fill in the blanks. Continue reading >>
02 Mai 2022

Wieviel Automatisierung verträgt die Meinungsfreiheit?

Mit seinem Urteil über die grundrechtliche Bewertung des umstrittenen Artikel 17 der EU-Urheberrechtsrichtlinie (Rechtssache C-401/19) definiert der Europäische Gerichtshof enge Schranken für den Einsatz von Filtersystemen zur automatischen Sperrung mutmaßlich illegaler Inhalte. Das Urteil ist weit über das Urheberrecht hinaus von Bedeutung, da es den Sinngehalt des Verbots allgemeiner Überwachungspflichten präzisiert. Dieses Verbot ist auch Gegenstand einer aktuellen gerichtlichen Auseinandersetzung zwischen Grünen-Politikerin Renate Künast und dem Meta-Konzern über die Frage, inwieweit Facebook dafür verantwortlich ist, gegen Falschzitate auf der Plattform vorzugehen. Continue reading >>
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27 April 2022

Wie Geld oder Gold

Das Bitcoin-Whitepaper datiert von 2008. Seitdem hat Bitcoin eine enorme Aufmerksamkeit und Wertzuschreibung erfahren, und dabei in einer Distanz zu Staat und Recht gestanden, die gut zu seinen libertären Idealen passt. Mit dem Erfolg kommt nun aber die Regulierung. Es ist daher höchste Zeit, einen Blick auf den grundrechtlichen Rahmen der anlaufenden Blockchain-Regulierung zu werfen – er ist weitestgehend unbesprochen. Continue reading >>
26 April 2022

The Court of Justice of the EU goes (almost) public

While the broadcasting of the delivery does not add much value (the texts are generally made available online at the time of their live reading in Luxembourg) to its declared goal of facilitating “the public’s access to its judicial activity”, that of the public hearings appears a major game-changer in the Court’s stance vis-à-vis the public-at-large. And that despite the many precautions accompanying the introduction of such a major rehaul of the Court’s publicity policy regarding its hearings, Continue reading >>

Keeping the Past and the Present Apart

The mere fact that a judge was appointed for the first time under undemocratic conditions does not automatically determine that the court in which that judge adjudicates lacks the necessary independence under EU law. The CJEU has answered to this effect a question of Mr. Kamil Zaradkiewicz, appointed to Poland's Supreme Court in 2018 on recommendation of the new government-controlled National Council of Judiciary and thus lacking independence himself. Importantly, the CJEU emphasized that the referring court did not submit any evidence that may rise legitimate and serious doubts, in the minds of individuals, over independence and impartiality of the particular judge. With this decision, the Court refused to be drawn into the inner-Polish dispute about decommunization, and reinforced its jurisprudence on judicial independence standards in the EU. Continue reading >>
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22 April 2022

Elon Musk Wants to Buy Twitter to Create a Free Speech Utopia: Now What?

The enigmatic Tesla founder Elon Musk has made a public offer to buy 100% of Twitter’s shares at approximately 138% of each share’s value. In his letter of intention submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk describes that free speech is necessary in a democratic society, and he wishes to unlock its full potential by bringing Twitter under (his) private ownership. Constitutionally this raises an interesting point: if indeed a billionaire wants to change the rules of speech on the ‘new public squares’ by acquiring a social media platform, can he – and should he be able to? Continue reading >>
12 April 2022
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Anything Goes?

Last month, the ECtHR ruled in the case of Johansen v. Denmark on the deprivation of nationality and expulsion for terrorist offenses. It rejected the applicant’s complaint of an infringement of Art. 8 ECHR. The decision underlines the Court’s reluctance to engage with issues raised by deprivations of nationality in terrorism cases. Instead of setting out clear limits on such measures based on the rights guaranteed by the Convention, the Court does not seem to be willing to interfere with measures related to national security, no matter how drastic the consequences for the individual. Continue reading >>
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08 April 2022

Palantirs Beitrag

Am 15. Tag des russischen Angriffskriegs gegen die Ukraine ruft Alexander Karp, der CEO von Palantir Technologies, in einem offenen Brief „Zur Verteidigung Europas“ auf. Es ist ein bemerkenswertes Dokument, das zu dem Schluss kommt, nur digitale Gegenwehr könne Europa noch retten – selbstredend mit Palantirs Hilfe. Bemerkenswert ist nicht nur die schamlose Instrumentalisierung des Kriegs für seine Zwecke. Prämisse, Analyse, Schlussfolgerung: Satz für Satz lässt Karps Brief die Augenbrauen höher wandern. Aber der Reihe nach. Continue reading >>

Hungary’s Lesson for Europe

There seems to be a disturbing discordance in the European Commission’s response to the Hungarian elections. On the one hand, the Commission triggers the rule of law mechanism. On the other, it refuses to comment on the fairness of the Hungarian elections. This contradicts the fact that, just like the rule of law, democracy is also part of  Europe’s constitutional identity. But what does democracy require from Member States? Hungary’s elections make clear that the value of democracy, as given expression in Article 10 TEU, should be justiciable. Continue reading >>
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07 April 2022

Sexualverbrechen sind nicht grenzüberschreitend

Pünktlich zum Internationalen Frauentag am 8. März 2022 hat die EU-Kommission ihren Vorschlag für eine EU-Richtlinie zur Bekämpfung von Gewalt gegen Frauen und häuslicher Gewalt vorgelegt. Auch wenn der Inhalt der Richtlinie politisch wünschenswert ist, hat die EU hierfür nicht die Kompetenz, da Vergewaltigungen (und Femizide) keine grenzübergreifende Kriminalität darstellen. Vor diesem Hintergrund dürfte die Bundesrepublik der Vergewaltigungs-Vorgabe in Art. 5 des Richtlinien-Entwurfs nicht zustimmen, will sie nicht die Vorgaben aus dem Lissabon-Urteil des BVerfG ignorieren. Continue reading >>
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06 April 2022

Öffentliche Überwachung vor den europäischen Gerichten

Europa hat eine erhebliche Ausweitung staatlicher Überwachungs- und Terrorismusbekämpfungsbefugnisse erlebt, die den zunehmenden Appetit der Gesetzgeber und der Exekutive auf eine Normalisierung der Überwachung zeigen. Lange Zeit haben die europäischen Gerichte diesem Trend energisch entgegengewirkt und Siege für die Grundrechte im Bereich der Überwachung errungen. Die jüngsten Entscheidungen des EuGH und des EGMR eröffnen jedoch ein anderes Bild, das auf einen breiteren Paradigmenwechsel hindeutet. Continue reading >>
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Enlarging the Hole in the Fence of Migrants’ Rights

With the judgment in A.A. and others v. North Macedonia, the European Court of Human Rights further branches out the creative exception to the prohibition of collective expulsions and turns it into an obligation to offer a place to apply for asylum somewhere at the border. But not only are these legal access points for asylum applications often de facto restricted, the ever more creative exceptions to rights of the Convention and its Protocols threatens the credibility and authority of the Court. Continue reading >>
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05 April 2022

A Backdoor Exit from the European Convention on Human Rights

Russia left the Council of Europe on 16 March 2022. The European Court of Human Rights declared that Russia will remain a Party to the Convention until 16 September 2022. This resolution is inconsistent with applicable termination rules. But even beyond technicalities, it reveals fundamental defects in the design of the ECHR denunciation clause. Forced withdrawal and expulsion from the Council, as mechanisms to sanction severe violations of human rights, should not have the effect of relieving the delinquent State of its conventional human rights obligations. Continue reading >>
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04 April 2022

The Council of Europe as an AI Standard Setter

On 4 April 2022, Member States of the Council of Europe commences negotiations on the world’s first international binding legal instrument in the field of artificial intelligence. The CoE has a large reservoir of both experience and expertise in the field of standard setting, as far as the three key priorities are concerned: promoting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Given the undisputed need for regulating AI activities, the CoE appears a prime candidate for this undertaking. Continue reading >>
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01 April 2022

Letters from Brussels with Love and the Issue of Mutual Trust in Nationality Matters

In a recent article on this blog, I have set out that the spotlight will soon be turning on the European passportization of Russian oligarchs. And well, what shall I say, it did not take long for the Commission to come out swinging. In a recommendation issued on March 28, the Commission urged “Member States to immediately repeal any existing investor citizenship schemes and to ensure strong checks are in place to address the risks posed by investor residence schemes”. Continue reading >>
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28 März 2022
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Artificial Intelligence Must Be Used According to the Law, or Not at All

Democracy requires to strengthen the Rule of Law wherever public or private actors use algorithmic systems. The law must set out the requirements on AI necessary in a democratic society and organize appropriate accountability and oversight. To this end, the European Commission made several legislative proposals. In addition to the discussion on how to use algorithmic systems lawfully, the question when it is beneficial to use them deserves more attention. Continue reading >>
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The Rule of Law versus the Rule of the Algorithm

When we chose the title of this symposium, we thought it might be controversial. We expected that at least some of the authors would argue that algorithmic threats to the rule of law were solvable, or that responsibly-implemented algorithms could even help the delivery of justice. None of the experts did. In the series of articles which we will present to you in the next days, we find no techno-optimism. That should give everybody pause - especially to the advocates in favour of algorithmic solutions for every problem. Continue reading >>
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25 März 2022

The Council of Europe’s Sharp Turn

The Council of Europe (CoE) responded promptly to Russia’s act of aggression against Ukraine first by suspending Russia’s representation rights on 25 February 2022, and then by expelling it on 16 March 2022 in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute. The Committee of Ministers used the Article 8 procedure for the first time in the history of the CoE. This might have crucial implications for the broader CoE context and could make the threat of suspension and expulsion more credible for other member states as well. Continue reading >>
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23 März 2022

Unmatched Levels of Sanctions Coordination

In early 2022, the European Union (EU) was quick and decisive in imposing an unprecedented set of measures against Russia. Among other things, the EU targeted the Russian Central Bank, which is an extraordinary move, given that central banks are rarely on sanctions lists. Reconciling the interests of 27 Member States is an art itself, especially in a highly sensitive policy area which continues to be dominated by individual Member State interests. Overall, the swiftness of EU measures went beyond most of our expectations. Continue reading >>
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21 März 2022

Take Down the Wall. And Make Russia Pay for It

EU law allows admitting Ukraine into the Union immediately. This is not only the moral imperative, it would also not require any Treaty revision and mark a return to the classical approach of the first EU accession: accession first, full taking on of the acquis later, with lengthy transitional periods. Ukraine will also require a super Marshall plan to ensure speedy reconstruction. This is doable: the seized – say confiscated – “Russian” money, a bit short of a trillion by now, will be enough, with the EU hopefully topping this amount. Continue reading >>
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Überwachen, Blocken, Delisten

Die Verordnung (EU) 2022/350 des Rates vom 1. März 2022, mit der Sanktionen betreffend Russia Today (RT) und Sputnik verhängt wurden, geht – anders als ersten Reaktionen zufolge – über ein Sendeverbot für diese Kanäle weit hinaus: Internetzugangsanbieter werden zu Websitesperren verpflichtet, und Social Media-Plattformen wird, abweichend von Art. 15 E-Commerce-Richtlinie, eine allgemeine Überwachungspflicht auferlegt Continue reading >>
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„An Ever-Stronger Union“ Under the Radar of the European Public

The intergovernmental political mode of EU defense policy is no longer appropriate for the level of European integration in this policy field, the development of which will significantly shape the European project in the coming years. In particular, it is necessary that the European Parliament and the national parliaments be informed of upcoming political decisions in a substantive and timely manner: They should be informed as long as the political process is still open, and their position should be a constituent part of decision-making at the EU level. Continue reading >>
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„An Ever Stronger Union“ unter dem Radar der europäischen Öffentlichkeiten

Dass das militärpolitische Integrationsgeschehen außerhalb der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung und Debatte stattfindet, bedeutet letztlich für die politischen Akteure geringe Rechtfertigungslasten und größere Handlungsspielräume. Es ist also alles andere als ein Selbstläufer, dass über die Fortentwicklung der EU-Verteidigungspolitik jetzt die breite, allgemeine Meinungs- und Willensbildung stattfindet, die bislang fehlt. Dies ist jedoch dringend angezeigt, um die „hard power“, die die Union in der Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik entwickelt und entfalten will, demokratisch und rechtsstaatlich einzubinden – und das ganze Unterfangen der militärischen Ermächtigung der Union überhaupt seiner Bedeutung entsprechend politisch zu behandeln. Continue reading >>
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18 März 2022
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How to Set Aside Hungarian Cardinal Laws

The anti-Fidesz coalition could win the next Hungarian elections. That, however, is only one step on a long path back to a full democracy. Fidesz has skilfully entrenched its power, personnel, and policies. How could a new majority overcome this, align the Hungarian legal order with European standards, and allow for democratic governability? Continue reading >>
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Not the Time for Carrots?

Issuing ‘golden’ passports and residence permits to non-Europeans in return for investment in their national economy has always been controversial. Now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, these deals have attracted new attention. Since Russians account for a significant share of the customers, there have been widespread calls, including from the European Parliament, for an end to this practice. Can the EU do anything about this? Continue reading >>
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A Declaration on the Rule of Law in the European Union

Since the Second World War, Europe has witnessed the benefits of rule-based order. Peace, prosperity, and progress have grown out of a shared commitment to the rule of law, both between individuals and states. As of late, these unprecedented achievements are increasingly under threat, as the basics of the rule of law, including the need for an independent judiciary, are questioned both at the heart of Europe and in countries beyond our borders. Time is of the essence. If backsliding on the rule of law occurs faster than corrective action, the passage of time will inevitably erode the rule-based order. We, the signatories of this declaration, urgently call on all leaders, in Member States and the EU Institutions, to uncompromisingly safeguard the rule of law in Europe. Continue reading >>
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16 März 2022

A Self-Regulatory Race to the Bottom through Art. 18 Digital Services Act

Art. 18 of the draft Digital Services Act will introduce new dispute settlement processes. This addresses a legitimate policy concern, namely the need to enable effective recourse mechanisms for platform decisions. However, the concept fails when trying to combine the best of two worlds: solving disputes through real courts as well as through self-regulation. Art. 18 DSA raises serious concerns and should be substantially modified. Continue reading >>
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Enforcing Due Diligence Obligations

The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive creates an innovative mix of enforcement mechanisms. It relies on both administrative oversight and judicial enforcement through civil liability. Additionally, accountability of businesses for affecting stakeholder interests is strengthened by a specific environmental, social, and corporate governance duty of care for directors and obligations to link directors’ pay to climate obligations, thus ensuring that directors need to steer businesses in light of stakeholder interests. This system has the potential to effectively oblige companies to respect stakeholder interests, although some weaknesses, especially in access to justice, remain. Continue reading >>
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The EU as Quasi-NATO

Putin has reportedly threatened both Sweden and Finland against joining NATO, attempting to preempt a shift away from the commitment to neutrality that is deeply embedded in the Swedish political soul. It is therefore all the more interesting that Sweden and Finland have recently concluded a new strategy of enhanced security cooperation between the states. In addition, the Swedish government, together with Finland, has sent a letter to other EU Member States reminding them of their obligation to assist any EU country in case of belligerent attack. Should we interpret this as an expectation for the EU to function effectively as a quasi-NATO? Continue reading >>
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15 März 2022

Reimagining a European Constitution

At this point, it is almost trite to say that the invasion of Ukraine has thrown the world order into tailspin. Unimaginable steps have been taken by the European Union and its Member States in the weeks since the invasion. These steps have already started to have significant consequences for discussions on the future of EU constitutionalism. Arguably, the appetite and political will for change is unprecedented and could serve to unplug EU constitutionalism from its sclerotic tendencies – it must be capitalised on. Continue reading >>
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Due Diligence Around the World

On 23 February 2022, the EU Commission released its draft Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDDD). It follows – and seemingly takes inspiration from – several national mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) laws, notably in France, (“LdV”) Germany (“GSCDDA”) and Norway (“Transparency Act”). It provides a strong legal basis and innovations to enhance corporate accountability, to strengthen stakeholder value and to create a European and possibly global standard for responsible and sustainable business conduct. Continue reading >>
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14 März 2022

Über die Grenzen des Rechts

Der Angriffskrieg Putins gegen die Ukraine hat in den vergangenen Tagen eine Welle der Empathie und Solidarität ausgelöst. Die Reaktionen haben aber auch deutlich gemacht, dass es Hierarchien darin gibt, wem solche Empathie und Solidarität entgegengebracht wird – und wem eher nicht. Diese Hierarchien sind Ausdruck von strukturellen und institutionellen Rassismen. Das Recht hat in diesem Zusammenhang eine ambivalente Rolle, indem es zugleich rassistische Strukturen (re)produziert und dazu einlädt, eben diese zu hinterfragen und zu überwinden. Continue reading >>
11 März 2022

Sanctions for Abramovich, but Schröder Goes Scot-Free

What is the role of citizenship – Russian and European – in the context of the deployment and operation of the sanctions? The question is far from trivial. Indeed, effective rights-focused judicial review of such measures is very weak, allowing the matters of foreign policy and perceived political expediency and retribution to override core constitutional principles and guarantees of the European legal systems at all levels. Let us start with history, to understand what is going on and give it a legal assessment. Continue reading >>
10 März 2022

Sendeverbot durch Sanktionen

Die Europäische Union hat eine Reihe von Sanktionen gegen russische Staatsmedien erlassen. In normalen Zeiten wäre ein (quasi-)staatliches Verbot von Medien wohl erheblichen Einwänden ausgesetzt gewesen. Doch unter dem Eindruck der immer rücksichtsloseren Invasion Russlands in der Ukraine erhält die EU breite Zustimmung bei nur wenigen kritischen Stimmen. Trotzdem muss auf europäischer Ebene eine tragfähige und geeignete Rechtsgrundlage für den Kampf gegen staatliche Propaganda entwickelt werden. Statt auf das Sanktionsrecht sollte hierfür auf das Medienrecht gesetzt werden. Dafür sollte auf Unionsebene das Medienrecht nach deutschem Vorbild weiterentwickelt werden. Continue reading >>
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On the Brink of a New Refugee Crisis

The EU Council decision on temporary protection adopted on 4 March not only conveys a political message of solidarity with the Ukrainian people; it also reveals the awareness that the 2015 refugee crisis was mainly an administrative crisis and that, this time, a more pragmatic approach is required to prevent the national asylum systems from being overwhelmed. Moreover, a less hostile view of secondary movements seems to emerge, with potentially far-reaching consequences. At the same time, temporary protection is not a silver bullet for what is a complicated and long-lasting challenge. Continue reading >>
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Big Tech War Activism

The war in Ukraine is live. It’s not only live on CNN or Al Jazeera but it’s live on different social media platforms, for better and worse. In this context, Big Tech platforms are not neutral. Rather, along with their users, they are giving rise to a new wave of tech war activism, siding with Ukraine. While many of these initiatives may be well intended, this new form of tech activism raises questions about the role of social media in times of war. Continue reading >>
08 März 2022

“The Ever Closer Union among the Peoples of Europe” in Times of War

The war in Ukraine has brought a moment of the constitutional reckoning and the ultimate test of belonging for the Europeans. The ill-fated politics of appeasement and dialoguing with a criminal has come crushing down. Finally, Europe seems to take a more strategic and long-term view of its own politics at least when it comes to common foreign policy and defense. A true re-appraisal and reinvigoration of European ideals will however not be complete if the Union keeps looking the other way, dithering, procrastinating when its own axiological foundations are under attack by one of its own member states. Continue reading >>
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The EU’s “Ban” of RT and Sputnik

Denouncing Russian authorities‘ “muzzling“ of independent media and reiterating its support for media freedom and pluralism, the European Union banned two Russian media outlets in March 2022. This apparent contradiction between a statement of principle and concrete action can be resolved. While the ban can be legally justified as a measure designed to suppress “propaganda for war”, European institutions should not try to justify it by pointing to these outlets’ track record of “disinformation” or simply “propaganda”. To address legitimate questions of double standards that will come up in the wake of the inevitable whataboutism, it should be stressed that the Union’s measures differ decisively from any authoritarian censorship by virtue of the Union’s character as a community of law. Continue reading >>
05 März 2022

Temporary Protection for Ukrainians

One might have expected that the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive would witness a remake of the toxic disputes about ‘burden sharing’ following the mass influx of 2015/16. None of this happened, although the contents of the Implementing Decision is quite different from what many might think intuitively. Inter-state distribution keys or quotas give way to a simple allocation mechanism: ‘free choice’ is the surprise outcome of Thursday’s Council meeting. Continue reading >>
03 März 2022
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Time for Military Integration in the EU?

For decades, the EU’s security and defence policy was largely looked at as a theoretical piece in the overall puzzle of the Union’s external role. During the past week, however, the unthinkable happened, and European defence policy has taken a significant leap forward. This brings to fore questions about the legal nature of the security and mutual assistance provisions in the EU Treaties, including the relationship between aligned and non-aligned States in EU defence policy. Continue reading >>
02 März 2022

Too Little Politics in EU Defense Policy

The arming of Ukraine with European financial means may enjoy widespread support among European populations scandalized by Putin's egregious actions. But this should not obscure the fact that it is the result of largely arcane decision-making processes: Neither the establishment of the European Peace Facility nor the breaking of the Union's rules on arms exports by supplying weapons to the war zone Ukraine was the subject of a substantively open public discourse and will formation. Continue reading >>
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Der unsichtbare Dritte

Durch die Richtlinie zu Sorgfaltspflichten in der Lieferkette sollen große Unternehmen in der EU dazu verpflichtet werden, Menschenrechts- und Umweltstandards in der Lieferkette einzuhalten. Doch wer stellt sicher, dass Zulieferer, die nicht selten über die ganze Welt verteilt sind, diese Standards auch wirklich erfüllen? Der Entwurf für die Richtlinie, den die Kommission in der vergangenen Woche veröffentlicht hat, setzt dafür maßgeblich auf unabhängige Dritte: die wiederum privatwirtschaftlichen Zertifizierer. Diese Strategie fördert aber nicht nur Private als „Ersatzbehörden“, die selbst kaum reguliert sind, sondern könnte auch die Marktkonzentration ohnehin schon großer Unternehmen weiter verstärken. Continue reading >>
28 Februar 2022

Zu wenig Politik in der EU-Verteidigungspolitik

Die Rüstung der Ukraine mit europäischen Mitteln mag in der europäischen Bevölkerung, die durch das ungeheuerliche Vorgehen Putins skandalisiert ist, breite Unterstützung genießen. Das darf aber nicht verdecken, dass es sich um das Ergebnis weitgehend arkaner Entscheidungsprozesse handelt: Gegenstand einer inhaltlich offenen öffentlichen Meinungs- und Willensbildung war weder die Errichtung der Europäischen Friedensfazilität noch die Durchbrechung der Unionsregeln für Rüstungsexporte durch Waffenlieferungen in das Kriegsgebiet Ukraine. Continue reading >>
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Cognitive Illusions in Legal Interpretation

In the light of current happenings in certain Member States, many attempt to interpret or explain the withdrawal process under Article 50 TEU. The “exit” narrative seems dominant in journalism and academia: Grexit, Dexit, Dutch Exit, Huxit, Polexit, Frexit, Sloven Exit, etc. Some news portals frequently portray (not so odd) Constitutional Court decisions or current political events as declarations of withdrawal from the EU. These simplistic approaches are battle-ready political weapons in the hands of social media influencers and politicians on both pro and con EU sides, shaping public opinion based on disinformation. This is an irresponsible mistake that misdirects public discourse. Continue reading >>
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25 Februar 2022
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Claiming “We are out but I am in” post-Brexit

It is not often that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is presented with a case in which the law is so crystal clear, and so overwhelmingly contrary to the applicant’s claims, as in Préfet du Gers. The central question of the case is weather British nationals retain their EU citizenship and EU citizenship rights after Brexit. Given how straightforward the Treaties and the case-law are on this matter, it is unsurprising that AG Collins answered this question in the negative in a well-argued and straightforward Opinion. Continue reading >>
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Rethinking Rights in Social Media Governance

In the context of the broader ‘techlash’ against the power and exploitative practices of major platforms, EU lawmakers are increasingly emphasising ‘European values’ and fundamental rights protection. But relying only on human rights to guide both social media law and academic criticism thereof is excluding other normative perspectives that place greater emphasis on collective and social interests. This is deeply limiting – especially for critical scholarship and activism that calls for the law to redress structural inequality. Continue reading >>
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24 Februar 2022

Green(wash)ing Global Commodity Chains

Yesterday, the EU Commission finally published its proposal for a corporate sustainability due diligence directive – nearly a year after the Parliament’s resolution to the same effect. Tensions were running high among policymakers, businesses, and civil society alike following several delays, DG Internal Market weighing in on the DG Justice file, and two negative verdicts by the obscure Regulatory Scrutiny Board. Have these distortions left their mark on the final text, as many had feared? Yes and no, as I shall explain, focusing on the proposal’s operative environmental dimension. Continue reading >>
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The DSA’s Industrial Model for Content Moderation

I expect that in many real-world cases, the process prescribed by the DSA will waste resources that could better be spent elsewhere, and burden smaller platforms to a degree that effectively sacrifices competition and pluralism goals in the name of content regulation. There is a difference between procedural rules that legitimately protect fundamental rights and the exhaustive processes that might exist in a hyper-rationalized, industrial model of content moderation. The line between the two is not always clear. But I think the DSA often crosses it. Continue reading >>
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23 Februar 2022
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The next step towards auditing intermediaries

The lack of transparency of digital platforms is a well-known problem that has wide societal implications. There is now an extraordinary opportunity to establish legally mandated criteria for meaningful transparency for online platforms in the proposed EU Digital Services Act (DSA). However, their success will depend on the strength of oversight mechanisms which need to be accompanied by sufficient access to data. Hence, we propose creating an auditing intermediary to assure the effectiveness of such oversight. Continue reading >>
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22 Februar 2022

Not looking up

It now seems that after the ruling is before the ruling. The Commission is intent on continuing with its wait-and-see approach, a situation which Hungarian MEP Katalin Cseh compared to the Netflix movie “Don’t look up”, in which the President of the United States decides to ignore the huge comet approaching the earth. While in the movie the comet finally destroys the planet, the European Parliament, however, is determined not to let it come to that. It has made clear that it will not tolerate this policy of looking the other way and has taken up arms. Continue reading >>
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21 Februar 2022
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Constitutional Identity in and on EU Terms

The EU protects national constitutional identities and does not protect national unconstitutional identities. This is the message the Court of Justice of the EU has sent with its decision of 16 of February 2022, in the cases initiated by Hungary and Poland about the rule-of-law conditionality mechanism, in which it ominously referred to the constitutional identity of the EU. Constitutional identity, according to the CJEU, is a key concept of public law and a fundamental pillar of the EU, so Member States constitutional identities may not be manipulated in such a way that turns into a violation of the constitutional identity of the EU. Continue reading >>
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Quantifying ‘Better Regulation’

The EU Commission is expected to publish later this month its long-awaited proposal on Sustainable Corporate Governance, an initiative to ‘better align the interests of companies, their shareholders, managers, stakeholders and society’. Almost a year of delay and possibly some toning down of the legislative ambition can be attributed, in large part, to the double negative opinion issued by the EU Regulatory Scrutiny Board’s (RSB) on the Impact Assessment. In doing so, the RSB – a body whose absence from public debate seems largely disproportionate to its actual powers – has shown its teeth and incidentally revealed some of the shortcomings of its own mandate. Continue reading >>
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17 Februar 2022
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In Defense of Its Identity

The introduction of rule of law budgetary conditionality, as approved by the Court, is a first step in the right direction. But the Union must go further. Taking a page from fundamental rights and anti-discrimination law, we suggest the systematic, deliberate, and transparent incorporation of rule of law considerations into all Union policies and practices at all stages, from planning and legislation to execution and enforcement, with the aim of actively promoting, realizing, and sustaining the rule of law throughout the Union. Continue reading >>
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16 Februar 2022

No More Excuses

Sitting as a full court, due to the exceptional importance of the case, the Court of Justice has dismissed the annulment actions brought by the Hungarian and Polish governments against the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation. A non-exhaustive account of the main substantive issues addressed by the Court. Continue reading >>
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Mutual (Dis)trust

Last week, the General Court of the European Union, in its judgment T-791/19 Sped-Pro, recognized for the first time the impact that systematic rule of law deficiencies have on national competition authorities. The judgement is seminal, in that it openly questions the ability of national authorities impacted by rule of law backsliding to effectively enforce EU law. The judgement also goes to the heart of explaining the pivotal constitutional role played by competition law within the EU legal order. Continue reading >>
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14 Februar 2022
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VerfassungsPod: EU v. Polen

Der Konflikt zwischen der EU und Polen ist bereits viel weiter eskaliert, als man bis vor kurzem für vorstellbar gehalten hätte. Und immer noch ist kein Ende in Sicht. Aus dem innerpolnischen Verfassungskonflikt um Rechtsstaat und unabhängige Justiz ist ein europäischer Verfassungskonflikt um den Vorrang des EU-Rechts geworden. Wie konnte das passieren? Was für Kräfte sind da am Werk? Und wie kommen wir da wieder heraus? Continue reading >>
11 Februar 2022

When Is a Court Still a Court?

On 3 February 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment in the case of Advance Pharma sp.z o.o. against Poland. This is another judgment on the irregularities in the appointments of judges to the Polish Supreme Court, in which the ECtHR confirmed its previous rulings. But it also touched on several implications of its conclusions for the Polish judiciary. It suggests that they may be relevant for ordinary courts in Poland as well and that Polish authorities should ensure the possibility to reopen proceedings in certain situations. Continue reading >>
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08 Februar 2022

The Duty to Exhaust Remedies with Systemic Deficiencies

On 3 February 2022, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in Advance Pharma v Poland and addressed the question of whether an applicant is required to exhaust domestic remedies that suffer from systemic deficiencies for the first time. While the Court does not yet give a clear answer to this particularly sensitive issue, this case is another reminder of just how difficult it is for the Convention system to engage with countries that structurally impair their judicial system. Continue reading >>
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02 Februar 2022

On the Right to Compulsory Vaccination

The legitimacy of compulsory vaccination is a question of what kind of freedom we want. It is not a matter of state decree, but rather the reaction of a democratic constitutional state to an omission that can be interpreted as a violation of the freedom of others. If we take the legal relationship of freedom as a basis, some guidelines for models of compulsory vaccination emerge. Continue reading >>
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25 Januar 2022

Jenseits der roten Linien

Abgeordnete aus Russland sollten nicht an der Parlamentarischen Versammlung des Europarats (PACE) teilnehmen können. Dies haben am vergangenen Montag, zu Beginn der neuen Sitzungsperiode, Abgeordnete aus der Ukraine und dem Baltikum gefordert und die Beglaubigungsschreiben der russischen Delegation angefochten. Am Mittwoch muss nun über diese abgestimmt werden, damit die russische Delegation ihr Mandat in der PACE aufnehmen kann. Auch die deutschen Delegierten sollten die russischen Beglaubigungsschreiben, wenn überhaupt, dann nur unter Auflagen ratifizieren. Continue reading >>
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Time to Rewrite the EU Directive on Combating Terrorism

The adoption of EU Directive 2017/541 on combating terrorism in March 2017 has profoundly changed the landscape of European counter-terrorism law. The primary aim of this Directive was to further harmonise the legal framework under which terrorist offences are prosecuted across EU Member States by establishing minimum rules and standards. However, the adverse consequences for the rule of law and human rights have been overlooked from the very outset by the EU institutions. Now, five years after its adoption, it is time for a thorough revision. Continue reading >>
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24 Januar 2022

Pushbacks? Never mind, we’re doing it

"Pushback" has been elected Germany’s non-word of the year 2021. The word is rather innocent, the act is the problem. The EU Commission has now submitted a proposal for an amendment of the Schengen Borders Code that allows for irregular arrivals to be returned without effective legal protection. Continue reading >>
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Taking European Judgments Seriously

Today ends the deadline for stakeholder consultations for the 2022 EU rule of law report. The report is a welcome addition to the EU’s rule of law toolbox but it is missing a vital element: the non-implementation of judgments of international courts, including both the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. Continue reading >>
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21 Januar 2022

Pushbacks? Egal, wir machen das jetzt so

„Pushback“ ist zum Unwort des Jahres 2021 gekürt worden. Das Wort ist eher unschuldig, die Tat ist das Unding. Die EU-Kommission hat jetzt einen Änderungsvorschlag zum Schengener Grenzkodex vorgelegt, der das ignoriert: Sie schlägt Transfers ohne effektiven Rechtsschutz vor. Continue reading >>
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20 Januar 2022
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Curing the Symptoms but not the Disease

Traffic violations are not a proportionate justification to effectively deprive a person of her EU citizenship. This may sound obvious but in reality it was not, as the crucial Grand Chamber case of JY decided on January 18 demonstrates. This is a significant yet predictable addition to the edifice of EU citizenship post-Rottmann. Regrettably, the forward-looking judgment is myopic up to the point of an error of judgement as to the fundamental challenges at play in the factual constellation at hand. Continue reading >>
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11 Januar 2022

Wer Whistleblower nicht schützt, muss haften

Whistleblower in Deutschland haben es schwer. Bis zum 17. Dezember 2021 hätte der Bundesgesetzgeber Zeit gehabt, die „Whistleblower-Richtlinie“ in nationales Recht umzusetzen. Da er diese Frist untätig hat verstreichen lassen, entfaltet die EU-Richtlinie ihre Wirkung nun unmittelbar. Sie schützt Personen, die Verstöße gegen das Unionsrecht melden und kann zu weitreichenden Haftungsansprüchen gegenüber der Bundesrepublik führen. Continue reading >>
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10 Januar 2022

A Missed Opportunity for LGBTQ Rights

A few days ago, the British activist Gareth Lee failed with his complaint before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The Court declared the application inadmissible as Lee had not claimed the violation of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights in any of the national court proceedings and thus had not exhausted all national remedies. Lee v. the United Kingdom really was a missed opportunity for Europe’s regional human rights court to address the issue of homophobia in the context of access to goods and services. Continue reading >>
07 Januar 2022

Pushbacks against the Child’s Best Interests

The lack of a functional EU-level legal framework, designed for high immigration numbers, contributed to increasing recourse to practices of dissuading migrants away from the EU territory. This did not leave the European Court of Human Rights indifferent and it decided to give a legal green light to pushbacks under certain conditions. The Court applies its jurisprudence equally to all individuals and in all situations. In doing so, however, it violates the principle of the child’s best interests. A more nuanced approach should be taken, guaranteeing special protection to children, in accordance with the principle of the child’s best interests. Continue reading >>
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23 Dezember 2021
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The EU and its ‘Exes’

In September 2021, MEPs voted in favour of a new EU Ethics body to oversee movements of personnel between the public and the private sector and proposed an interinstitutional agreement to this end. Replacing the current Independent Ethical Committee, the new body would be responsible for proposing and advising Commissioners, MEPs and staff of the institutions on ethics rules. The new Ethics Body, however, is not the regulatory unicorn many are hoping for. The gaps and ineffectiveness of EU policies to address revolving door moves stem from a limited understanding of the issue, which in turn is a result of lack of research and interest. The EU cannot devise better policies unless more is known about the phenomenon. Continue reading >>
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21 Dezember 2021

Der europäische PNR-Rahmen und die sich verändernde EU-Sicherheitslandschaft

Seit Mai 2018 werden Reisende, die einen Flug in die, aus der oder innerhalb der Europäischen Union buchen oder antreten, gemäß der PNR-Richtlinie in Risikokategorien eingeteilt, um die Wahrscheinlichkeit ihrer Beteiligung an kriminellen oder terroristischen Aktivitäten zu bewerten. Das eigentliche Ziel des PNR-Richtlinie besteht darin, potenzielle Verdächtige zu identifizieren, die den Behörden bisher unbekannt waren. Sie hat somit das Potenzial, zentrale gesellschaftliche Werte wie Privatsphäre, Fairness und menschliche Autonomie neu zu definieren. Continue reading >>
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The European PNR framework and the changing landscape of EU-security

Since May 2018, travelers booking or embarking on a flight to, from or within the European Union are classified into risk categories in order to assess the likelihood of their involvement in criminal or terrorist activity, per the PNR Directive. The very ambition of the PNR framework is to identify potential suspects previously unknown to the authorities. It has thus introduced important changes into existing EU approaches to security conceptions and practices, and has the potential to redefine core societal values such as privacy, fairness and human autonomy. Continue reading >>
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17 Dezember 2021

Bürgerräte als Potential für die Handlungs- und Lernfähigkeit von Demokratien

Seit einigen Jahren entstehen in europäischen Ländern und in den USA neue Formen der Bürgerbeteiligung. Auch im neuen Koalitionsvertrag sind Bürgerräte vorgesehen. Sie könnten die aktuellen politischen Debatten wirksamer machen und Diskurse in einer fragmentierten Öffentlichkeit sinnvoll strukturieren. Das funktioniert allerdings nur unter gewissen Voraussetzungen, die sich aus den bisherigen Erfahrungen mit ähnlichen Formen von Bürgerräten ableiten lassen: Entscheidend sind transparente Ziele und Verfahren, eine inklusive Repräsentativität und die Umsetzung der sich daraus ergebenden Empfehlungen. Continue reading >>
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Verwandtschaft zum Zwecke der Freizügigkeit

In einem aktuellen Urteil behandelt der EuGH die Situation von Regenbogenfamilien, die in manchen Mitgliedstaaten rechtlich nicht anerkannt werden. Obwohl die EU für das Familienrecht keine Kompetenz hat, gelingt es dem Gerichtshof zumindest im Bereich der Freizügigkeit Diskriminierungen abzubauen. Ob seine Vorgaben auch umgesetzt werden, steht auf einem anderen Blatt. Denn, glaubt man den Mitgliedstaaten, steht nicht weniger auf dem Spiel als ihre „nationale Identität“. Continue reading >>
16 Dezember 2021

The Conference on the Future of Europe as an Institutional Illusion

The Conference on the Future of Europe is currently underway on the basis of the joint Declaration of 10 March 2021. Nine months after the Joint Declaration there is ample evidence from the Conference that allows us to assess this institutional event. The Conference might best be described as a campaign to stimulate public interest for EU politics. It is clear that the Conference has neither the legal basis nor the institutional character to address the Union's structural problems in the face of great challenges. Continue reading >>
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15 Dezember 2021

Datenschutzvollzug vor Zentralisierung

Die Europäische Datenschutzgrundverordnung (DSGVO) gilt noch keine vier Jahre, doch schon werden erste Forderungen nach mehr europäischer Zentralisierung der mitgliedstaatlichen Datenschutzaufsichtsbehörden laut, da Teile der nationalen Datenschutzaufsichtsbehörden nicht in der Lage sind, bei Verstößen gegen die DSGVO durch Technologiekonzerne in wichtigen grenzüberschreitenden Datenverarbeitungen einzuschreiten. Muss das System der Zuständigkeiten und Zusammenarbeit der mitgliedstaatlichen Aufsichtsbehörden bereits jetzt einer grundlegenden Revision unterzogen werden? Continue reading >>
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13 Dezember 2021

Not Above the Law

In the joined cases EMA and ELA on the determination of EU agencies’ seats, a decision of the EU-Court is pending very soon. According to AG Bobek’s opinion, delivered on 6 October 2021, intergovernmental decisions the seats of the European agencies fall outside the EU Court’s judicial review. Ezio Perillo, former Judge at the General Court, does not agree with this solution. For him court has the duty to assure the effective judicial protection of intergovernmental decisions when they do not respect the institutional balance as in the EMA and ELA cases. Continue reading >>
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08 Dezember 2021

No rule of law?

Something out of the ordinary, something very strange, something seriously concerning happened at the second section of the European Court of Human Rights on 23 November 2021. Continue reading >>
07 Dezember 2021

Verfahren eingestellt, Problem gelöst?

Am 2. Dezember 2021 hat die EU-Kommission das Vertragsverletzungsverfahren gegen Deutschland wegen des PSPP-Urteils des BVerfG vom 5. Mai 2020 eingestellt. Dieser Einstellungsentscheidung ist mit Erleichterung zu begegnen. Continue reading >>
06 Dezember 2021

Questions of Integrity

Many have rightly criticized the Commission for failing to robustly defend the EU’s founding values from academic freedom, to media freedom, to judicial independence, to the rights of refugees or the LGBT community. In these discussions, the Commission’s failure to take action against another form of discrimination is generally ignored: discrimination against national minorities. Looking at the example of Hungarian communities in other member states, this post highlights the Commission’s failure to defend ethnic or national minorities against discrimination. This is in stark contrast with the fact that the protection of and respect for minorities is a founding value of the EU, ranked equally to democracy, rule of law and human dignity. Continue reading >>
01 Dezember 2021

Das Damoklesschwert über der europäischen Rechtsordnung

Am 16. November fand vor der Großen Kammer des EuGH die mündliche Verhandlung im Verfahren C-562/21 PPU statt. Es ging um den europäischen Haftbefehl in Zusammenhang mit der Rechtsstaatlichkeit in Polen – einen europarechtlichen Dauerbrenner. Wie alle Fälle mit Bezug zur Rechtsstaatlichkeit in Polen hat auch dieser wieder einmal große politische Brisanz. Dennoch fand das Verfahren in der Öffentlichkeit relativ wenig Beachtung. Der EuGH könnte dabei wegen der langen Inaktivität der politischen Akteur:innen im Konflikt mit Polen und auch aufgrund seiner jüngsten Rechtsstaatsrechtsprechung eine tragische Rolle spielen, die sich aus der starken Verrechtlichung des Konflikts um die Rechtsstaatlichkeit ergibt. Continue reading >>
29 November 2021

The Honest (though Embarrassing) Coming-out of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal

The particular coming-out of the Tribunal, made in the judgment K 6/21 by admitting that the Constitutional Tribunal is not subject in general to the standards inherent in Article 6 EC, leads to the conclusion that the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and its judges need not be independent. Paradoxically, therefore, the judgment confirms (albeit by different reasoning) the disqualification of the Tribunal made in the Xero Flor judgment by ECtHR. And yet the Tribunal intended to remove the negative consequences for itself of the Xero Flor.  Continue reading >>
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28 November 2021

Mauern wieder denkbar machen

1985 versuchte die DDR die Bundesrepublik zu destabilisieren, indem sie für tamilische Geflüchtete aus Sri Lanka ein "Loch in der Mauer" nach Westberlin öffnete. Nicht ohne Erfolg: der Diskurs über „Scheinasylanten“ nahm Fahrt auf, „Die Republikaner“ setzten zu ihren größten Erfolgen an. Angesichts der Furcht vor dem Flüchtling hatten andere Parteien das Geschäft übernommen, Migration als schädlich, Asyl als Überforderung und den universalen Geltungsanspruch der Grundrechte als Traumtänzerei darzustellen. Die damals Geborenen sind mittlerweile Eltern, Deutschland ist in mitten eines neuen Europas vereint – aber einige Kosten des damals eingeschlagenen Kurses werden immer deutlicher sichtbar. Continue reading >>
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26 November 2021

The Sanctity of Preliminary References

A national supreme court must not declare a request for a preliminary ruling by a lower court unlawful on the ground that the referred questions are irrelevant and unnecessary for the original case. This has been held by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in its important decision C-564/19 IS. In addition, the CJEU held that EU law also precludes disciplinary proceedings from being brought against national judges on the ground that they made a reference for a preliminary ruling. The case also raises important questions to what extent preliminary rulings can be effective against rule-of-law decline and make up for political EU institutions’ failure to use adequate EU tools of supervision and enforcement. Continue reading >>
24 November 2021

In Court for Saving Lives

The trial against human right defenders Séan Binder and Sarah Mardini was supposed to start on 18 November 2021 at the criminal Court on the Greek island of Lesvos. The core charge of the prosecution, the facilitation of irregular entry of third country nationals, is based on the EU Facilitator’s Package and Greek anti-smuggling laws, both of which are at variance with international law standards related to smuggling. The remaining charges pressed upon Binder and Mardini are excessive and likely to be proved unfounded for lack of sufficient evidence. The whole process is just another example of the ongoing criminalization of humanitarian assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Continue reading >>
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23 November 2021

Das Cannabis-Dilemma

Die zukünftige deutsche Bundesregierung will Cannabis legalisieren. Wie das alles konkret umgesetzt werden soll, wird sich zeigen. Worüber erstaunlich wenig diskutiert wird, ist die Frage, ob die Legalisierung rechtlich überhaupt realisierbar ist. Europa- und völkerrechtlich bestehen hohe Hürden, die eine vollständige Legalisierung von Cannabis sehr schwierig, wenn nicht sogar unmöglich machen. Continue reading >>
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On A Road to Nowhere

On Wednesday 24 November the Polish Constitutional Tribunal will, once again, review the extent to which existing international legal obligations, that were freely entered into by the Republic of Poland, are actually compatible with the Polish Constitution. Continue reading >>
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18 November 2021
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Digital Services Act: European Parliament discusses website blocking against platforms

The deliberations on the Digital Services Act are taking a worrying turn. In the European Parliament's struggle to reach a common negotiating position, rapporteur Christel Schaldemose is proposing that authorities be allowed to order the complete blocking of online platforms, according to Der Tagesspiegel. Website blocking is already controversial when it is used as a last resort, the current proposal, however, eclipses anything that has gone before, because it envisages website blocking as an interim measure. This ill-conceived proposal contravenes the system of sanctions in the DSA and is incompatible with fundamental rights. Continue reading >>
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17 November 2021

A Tale of Primacy, part III

The third act, but not the end, of the ongoing „game of Courts” between the Romanian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice came on 9 November 2021, with a letter by the Romanian Constitutional Court to assist the acting minister of justice with a reply to the EU Commission's concern about primacy of EU law. I will not comment again on the arguments, already developed by the Constitutional Court in its decision, but I will try to emphasize, through relevant quotes, the disregard of the rule of law requirements stated in the CJEU judgment as well as the absence of the capacity of a true dialogue with the European Court. Continue reading >>
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12 November 2021

Plaumann and the Rule of Law

Most recently, the CJEU sanctioned Poland with daily penalty payments for failing to suspend the operation of its Supreme Court’s disciplinary chamber. The disciplinary chamber’s interference with the independence of judges can have a profound impact on the preliminary reference mechanism as a means for individuals to seek the review of EU law. This must be addressed to safeguard the right to an effective legal remedy under Article 47 CFREU. One possible response may be to modify the Plaumann-test insofar as necessary to protect the functioning of the EU’s ‘complete system of legal remedies’. Continue reading >>
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11 November 2021

(Il-)Legal Gymnastics by Poland and Hungary in EU Border Procedures

This week, Poland has made headlines yet again for dispatching 12,000 guards to the border between Poland and Belarus and the use of tear gas to prevent third country nationals (TCNs), including children, from crossing into Polish territory. It is acutely problematic that Poland has foregone any semblance of conformity with EU law at all in the adoption of its domestic legislation on border procedures. Continue reading >>
10 November 2021

The Multiple EU Rule of Law Crises

The European Court of Justice has recently delivered a judgment in the Pinxten case. The decision specifically concerned a question of financial misappropriation at the European Court of Auditors, but its significance goes far beyond this single case. It reveals multiple misfunctions at the top of the European Court of Auditors. Curiously, however, the judgement won't be published and has thus (against the Court’s own rules) not been translated. Most people will therefore never know about it, even though the Court of Justice gathered most exceptionally a full court to deal with this case. Continue reading >>
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09 November 2021

We are at war

The state of the European Union's asylum and migration policy can be summed up as follows: 20 years after the attacks on the Twin Towers, the "war on terror" has become both a cause of people on the move, and serves at the same time as the normative underpinning for the unimaginable arms race that has taken place at the external borders of the EU. Legitimised by the political leadership of the European Union, it is now a reality that the principles of the rule of law have ceased to apply at the EU's external borders without consequence. Continue reading >>
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Wir befinden uns im Krieg

Auf diese Formel lässt sich der Zustand der Asyl- und Migrationspolitik der Europäischen Union bringen. 20 Jahre nach den Anschlägen auf die Twin Towers hat sich der Krieg gegen den Terror in einen Krieg gegen Menschen auf der Flucht verwandelt. Der „War on Terror“ ist Fluchtursache und schafft gleichzeitig die Legitimation, mit deren Stütze eine technologisch unvergleichbare Aufrüstung an den Außengrenzen der Europäischen Union vorangetrieben wird. Legitimiert von der politischen Führung der Europäischen Union ist es heute Realität, dass rechtsstaatliche Prinzipien an den EU-Außengrenzen systematisch und ohne Konsequenzen unter Verweis auf den Schutz der europäischen Grenzen außer Kraft gesetzt werden können. Continue reading >>
04 November 2021

A More Complex Union

Based on the new legal history of European integration that has come out over the last decade, I will offer a different interpretation of the role of law in the EU than the one typically offered by legal scholarship. The central conclusion is that there is an unresolved tension in the relationship between law and politics in the EU that will most likely shape the Union’s response to the Polish crisis. To conclude, I will offer several alternative scenarios of how the EU may react to the Polish crisis. Continue reading >>

Who monitors compliance with fundamental values in EU Member States?

In 2014, the European Commission created a framework for the rule of law and the European Parliament has repeatedly proposed to extend this procedure to an Annual Monitoring Cycle on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. The insistence with which this proposal is formulated is intriguing because a similar procedure already existed in the Council of Europe for almost 30 years, under the responsibility of the Parliamentary Assembly. What are the political interests and practical considerations that underly what at first glance looks like a competition between the two European organizations? Continue reading >>
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03 November 2021

A(nother) lost opportunity?

The October meeting of the European Council (EUCO) was its first occasion to react to the declaration by the Polish “Constitutional Tribunal” that several provisions of the Treaty on European Union are incompatible with Poland’s Constitution and consequently inapplicable to the country. The express denunciation of fundamental provisions of EU primary law by one of its members (with the support of another), while insisting on his country remaining part of the Union, is a situation the EUCO could hardly overlook. And yet, not a word about the unfolding constitutional crisis was included in the EUCO Conclusions. Various elements may explain the restraint. However, the complete muteness from the EU crisis-manager-in-chief is more questionable and may carry a disquieting message. Continue reading >>
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