30 May 2024
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A Comparative Analysis between the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and the French and German Legislation

This blog post offers an initial comparative glimpse of the most important changes that the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) will bring for the respective mandatory human rights and environmental (HREDD) legislation in Germany and France. While both the French Duty of Vigilance Law and the German Supply Chain Act already require effective HREDD, the CSDDD goes a long way in strengthening the requirements and bringing them more in line with international standards.

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29 May 2024

The Electoral Reform in New Caledonia as a Blessing in Disguise

The constitutional amendment recently examined by the French Parliament would allow French citizens, residing in New Caledonia for at least ten years, to take part in local elections. Prompted by President Macron, this electoral reform has led to massive riots in recent weeks involving supporters and opponents of independence for this territory of the French Republic. Local representatives fear that this reform will place the Kanak – the archipelago’s autochthonous people – in an even more inferior position vis-à-vis loyalist militants. Nevertheless, this reform should guarantee better representation of the population of New Caledonia and thereby guarantee the right to vote more widely, in line with the democratic principles of the French Republic.

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On Kanaks and Caldoches

Over the past week, the French electoral reform in New Caledonia precipitated into violent unrest. Although the French government lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to initiate a process of de-escalation and to renew the dialogue with the independence movement, the reform will eventually move forward. Henceforth, France will further entrench its influence in the South Pacific and effectively deny the Kanak people to achieve their desired self-determination.

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19 April 2024

The European Court of Human Rights’ Kick Into Touch

On April 9, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on three applications concerning the fight against climate change and the positive obligations of the signatory states of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in this respect. This blog post analyzes the Carême decision in which the Court declared inadmissible an application brought by a former mayor of a French town on the grounds of incompatibility ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (§ 88). In my view, this is an ill-developed decision, which could dangerously imply a regression in environmental matters.

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02 April 2024

Between Legal Deficiencies and Political Restraint

Traditionally, it is Germany, not France, which is presented as the model example of militant democracy. Among the various provisions of the German Basic Law, Article 21 (2), setting out the procedure for banning political parties, is perhaps one of the clearest expressions of the basic constitutional decision in favour of a streitbare Demokratie. Nevertheless, setting concepts aside and examining empirical data, it is interesting to note that Germany has banned fewer political parties than France since the end of the Second World War.

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09 March 2024
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Enshrining Abortion Rights in the French Constitution

On International Women’s Day 2024, President Emmanuel Macron signed an amendment, that enshrines abortion rights in the French Constitution. Abortion is now a constitutionally “guaranteed freedom” for women in France: but constitutionally guaranteeing this freedom is also — if not even more — a call-out to the rest of the world. By constitutionalizing the right to abortion, French parliamentarians and government officials aimed to signal this commitment to the global community, with a particular emphasis on the United States.

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29 February 2024
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Pushing Back

The CJEU has pending before it a crucial case on the criminalisation of seeking asylum and assistance to those seeking protection. At this critical juncture, this blog post highlights a sample of important decisions in which courts, giving effect to constitutional and international legal principles, set legal limits on this form of criminalisation. These cases reflect not only the appropriate legal limits, but also acknowledge the character of irregular migration and smuggling. Rather than framing individuals as  dangerous illegal migrants and exploitative smugglers, they reassert the humanity of both those in search of refuge and opportunity, and those that assist them.

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26 February 2024

Rethinking the Law and Politics of Migration

2023 was, to put it mildly, a terrible year for (im)migrants and their human rights. With the declared end of the Covid pandemic came an end to the exceptional border policies it had led to which had further restricted already weakened migrants’ rights. Yet governments have largely chosen to replace them with legal frameworks that incorporated many of the same rights negating policies and ideas- except for this time they put them on a permanent legal basis. Liberated from their initial emergency rationales, asylum bans have now joined outsourcing and overpopulated mass detention camps as standard methods of migration governance. What is the role of legal scholarship and discourse at a time where governments seem increasingly comfortable to eschew many long-standing legal rules and norms, often with majority support?

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05 February 2024

Heightening the Repressive Dynamic

The new French Immigration Act was promulgated and published on 26th January 2024, the day after the Conseil Constitutionnel decision which censored 35 provisions in one of its longest decisions to date. The Conseil chose to emphasize the Constitution’s procedural requirements, while largely avoiding substantive analysis of the Act’s drastic reduction of foreigners’ rights. Indeed, it asserted the constitutionality or remained silent on many provisions that undercut foreigner’s rights. The Act as promulgated thereby constitutes the most repressive text since 1945 and heightens a migration restrictive dynamic.

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01 February 2024
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Mit der Verfassung spielt man nicht!

Am 25. Januar 2024 hat der französische Verfassungsrat zahlreiche Normen des neuen Einwanderungsrechts für verfassungswidrig erklärt (Nr. 2023-863 DC). Im Kontext dieses Normkontrollverfahrens zeigte sich eine Regierung, die den Verfassungsverstoß als Mittel zur Mehrheitsfindung nutzte. Zugleich scheute das Verfassungsgericht die inhaltliche Prüfung und stützte sich fast ausschließlich auf Verfahrensmängel. Beides hilft Bestrebungen von rechts, eine gerichtliche Kontrolle staatlicher Maßnahmen zukünftig einzuschränken. Noch bleibt Zeit, die Verfassungskultur in Frankreich zu stärken.

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27 November 2023

Constitutionalizing the right to abortion is not political opportunism

Recently, Baptiste Charvin wrote on this blog that the right to abortion has become the subject of political instrumentalization in France. In his view, it illustrates a general phenomenon of 'constitutional desacralization' and underlines the division the French people are experiencing, 'despite being governed by a Constitution that enshrines a set of values that should be shared by all.' I argue that the French parliamentary debate on the right to abortion is anything but a phenomenon of recent political opportunism. Instead, it reflects – for once – a majority opinion, not the division of French society.

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16 November 2023

Is France Desacralizing its Constitution?

From 2002 to the present day, hundreds of constitutional bills have been proposed by delegates in Parliament, with forty of them being introduced within a year following the renewal of the Assemblée Nationale after the 2022 legislative elections. Each bill contains unique and far-reaching provisions. The proposals illustrate a shift within secondary constituent power, which no longer perceives the Constitution as a sacred text, the supreme standard of the French legal order, but as a wish list, and as an object of political communication subject to trivial media considerations.

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11 October 2023
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The French Republic’s (In)Divisibility

On Thursday 28 September 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron called, in front of the Corsican Assembly, for Corsica to be given ‘autonomy within the Republic’. The French government and Corsican elected representatives have six months to produce a text which, if approved by the Corsican Assembly, will serve as the basis for an amendment to the French Constitution. Nonetheless, the political reactivation of an old constitutional principle might get in the way. In particular, conservative parliamentarians can be expected to invoke the principle of the indivisibility of the Republic in the constitutional amendment process. Despite the principle’s long-standing presence in republican constitutional history, we argue that it cannot serve as a constitutional argument against Corsican autonomy, both because the Constitution allows amendments despite contradictory principles and because it has always tolerated a certain degree of divisibility.

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28 September 2023

Religiöse Kleidung ohne Religionsfreiheit?

In Frankreich lodert erneut eine heftige Debatte über Verbote religiöser Kleidung. Ausgangspunkt ist ein Erlass des französischen Bildungsministeriums, der das Tragen von Abaya und Qamis an Schulen verbietet. Bei der Abaya handelt es sich um ein langes Überkleid mit weiten Ärmeln, das von muslimischen Frauen über der normalen Kleidung getragen wird. Der in der öffentlichen Debatte weniger beachtete Qamis ist das Pendant für Männer. Besagtes Kleidungsverbot ist am 07.09.2023 vom Conseil d’État, dem höchsten französischen Verwaltungsgericht, für zulässig erklärt worden.

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15 September 2023

Verschleierte Freiheit der Advokatur

Aus deutscher Perspektive ist es immer wieder erstaunlich, wie weitreichend der französische Gesetzgeber oder die Verwaltung als religiös empfundene Verhaltensweisen im Alltag regulieren. Dies betrifft neben der Ernährung in Kindergärten und Schulen vor allem auch die Kleidung von Privatpersonen. Derart weitreichende Vorschriften und Debatten erscheinen aus deutscher Sicht schwer vorstellbar, trotz auch hier bekannter Diskussionen im Arbeits-, Schul- und Beamten- und Richterdienstrecht. Der vorliegende Beitrag rückt eine Entwicklung im französischen anwaltlichen Berufsrecht in den Fokus und ordnet diese vergleichend deutsch-französisch ein.

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12 September 2023

Sex Workers in Strassburg

A few years ago, France banned buying sex. In M.A. and Others v. France the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) now held that a motion of sex workers against that ban is admissible. The Court did not rule on the merits at this stage – this will follow in a subsequent judgement. Nevertheless, this admissibility decision marks a milestone as, for the first time, the Court will examine whether a sex purchase ban violates the rights of sex workers as guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights. The ruling appears eagerly anticipated due to its legal precedent within Member States that have passed similar legislation.

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25 May 2023

Strong on Hate Speech, Too Strict on Political Debate

Online hate speech is a topic that has gained importance in recent years. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) made an important ruling in this context on 15 May 2023 in Sanchez v. France. From a democratic theory and individual rights’ perspective, I would endorse the first decision because it tackles the so-called “silencing” and “desensitization effect” of hate speech. The second decision, however, runs the risk of adversely affecting free political debate, especially when individual politicians are called upon to delete comments by third parties.

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