Sweet Like Sugar, Bitter Like a Lemon: Bulgaria’s CVM Report

On 13 November 2018, the Commission published the latest reports on Bulgaria and Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. Bulgaria’s report is full of praise. Not surprisingly, the Bulgarian government was overjoyed. The civil society, on the other hand, was clearly upset. Why? The short answer is that the picture painted by the CVM report does not correspond to reality and only pours water to Bulgaria’s autocratic mill.

Continue Reading →

Täglich grüßt das Murmeltier: Rechtmäßigkeit von Grenzschließungen aus Regierungssicht

Die Welt am Sonntag hat ein internes Regierungspapier veröffentlicht, wonach die Grenze im Herbst 2015 hätte geschlossen werden können. Intuitiv dürften sich all diejenigen bestätigt fühlen, die schon immer der Meinung waren, dass die Regierungspolitik falsch und rechtswidrig war. Doch was gibt das Papier wirklich her? Eine sorgsame Lektüre erlaubt nicht nur Einblick in den juristischen Maschinenraum der damaligen Entscheidungen, sondern zeigt auch manch überraschendes Ergebnis.

Continue Reading →

Never Missing an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity: The Council Legal Service Opinion on the Commission’s EU budget-related rule of law mechanism

Regrettably, we need to add the Council’s Legal Service to the list of key EU actors that seem intent on ignoring the existential threat to the Union posed by the spreading rule of law rot amongst EU member governments. In a (non-public) opinion on the proposed regulation of the Commission to create rule of law conditionality in the multi-annual financial framework adopted on 25 October 2018, the CLS indeed put forward multiple unpersuasive legal arguments to claim that the Commission’s proposal cannot be adopted. With this opinion, the CLS is advising the Council to actually prevent other institutions of the EU from doing their job to uphold and defend the set of common values on which the EU is based.

Continue Reading →

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Dilemma of Continuing or Ceasing Russian Membership in the Council of Europe

Last week the Washington Post reported that top Russian officials are contemplating withdrawal from the Council of Europe. This latest development illustrates the growing tensions between Russia and the Council of Europe which could ultimately lead to the cessation of Russia’s membership. Both Russia and the Council of Europe, however, face a dilemma when it comes to deciding what steps should be taken.

Continue Reading →

Playing the chicken game: The conflict over Italy’s draft budget reveals a construction flaw in the EMU

The next period of nightlong European summits and standoffs between the European institutions and one of its member states is looming: Italy and the EU are at odds about its new budget proposal. This is a result of the setup of the Economic and Monetary Union, which will continue to produce such stalemates as long as dominant countries make common rules for their own sake and others try to circumvent them.

Continue Reading →

Rumours made in Germany: Wie das Auswärtige Amt das Menschenrecht der Auswanderungs­freiheit kriminalisiert

Das Recht zur Ausreise und Auswanderung stellt ein allgemein anerkanntes Menschenrecht dar. Das dürfte auch im Auswärtigen Amt bekannt sein. Stattdessen aber finanziert das Ministerium eine geschmacklos bebilderte Anzeigenkampagne, in der es heißt: „SAY NO TO ILLEGAL EMIGRATION“. Auf diese Weise werden Migrationswillige gezielt desinformiert und wird die Ausübung eines Menschenrechts kriminalisiert.

Continue Reading →

What Being Left Behind by the Rule of Law Feels Like, Part II

By now it must be clear to all that the Hungarian and Polish governments do have a plan that is built on staying within the Union, and changing it from the inside, (ab)using its institutions, resources and weaknesses to their own benefit. Every round and every step where European institutions falter in preventing moves to this effect is an opportunity for the offending member states to pursue their strategies even further.

Continue Reading →

Toleranz ja! Aber gegenüber wem? Der österreichische Blasphemie­straftat­bestand vor dem EGMR

Das am 25.10.2018 veröffentlichte Urteil des EGMR in E.S./Österreich (Beschwerde Nr. 38450/12) hat für erhebliches Aufsehen und einige Aufregung und Kritik gesorgt – zu Recht. Die ganz auf den konkreten Sachverhalt fokussierte Entscheidung interessiert vor allem für das, was sie nicht oder nur am Rande behandelt: die Kriminalisierung blasphemischer Äußerungen durch Bestimmungen wie § 188 StGB.

Continue Reading →

The Italian Budget Drama – Brussels and Rome on Collision Course

The EU Commission has, for the first time, rejected a budget plan of a member state. While the Italian government drums its chest and the markets get increasingly nervous, the situation remains deadly serious. It is moreover deeply symptomatic of the potential, limits and fundamental shortcomings of the current architecture of Eurozone fiscal governance.

Continue Reading →