02 November 2021

No Surrender to Poland

Last week, a district court in Norway took a bold step and refused surrender to Poland due to the “significant greater danger and probability” that a Polish court would not be a lawful judge. In the European battle over the independence of Polish courts, surrender of wanted persons according to the European Arrest Warrant has been a minor but important front. The Vestfold district court's ruling should be welcomed and also invites the Norwegian Supreme Court and the CJEU to change their jurisprudence on surrender to Poland. Continue reading >>
16 April 2021

The Norwegian Pandemic Response

One year into the pandemic it is necessary to take stock of what has been achieved by the measures that have been implemented, and to reflect on their costs. Phrased differently, how successful have the authorities been in their endeavors to contain and control the spread of COVID-19? And from a legal point of view, what are the constitutional and cultural legacies of a year of deploying war-like measures against the virus? In this contribution to the symposium, I revisit the Norwegian COVID-19 response. In particular, I begin to unpack the narrative of success and its impact on deliberative democratic discourse. I do this by way of taking stock of the response through the lens of three rule of law indicators, namely the application of the principle of legality, the degree of parliamentary control, and adherence to open and democratic principles of rule-making. Continue reading >>
02 März 2021
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The Pomp of Popular Constitutional Outrage

In January 2021, the Norwegian government decided to circulate a proposal for formally adding a curfew clause to the Act Relating to the Control of Communicable Diseases from 1994. The public reacted with an extraordinary expression of popular engagement and outrage. On 17 February 2021, in the face of strong public, commercial and political opposition, the proposal was shelved by the government. This case may show something both about the level of trust between the authorities and the public in Norway, and the reactions when one of the parties is perceived to break the “social contract” that is embedded in this relationship. Continue reading >>
26 November 2020

Dissimilar Similarities

In the EU, most attention is paid to the judicial reforms underway in Hungary and Poland, which threaten judicial independence and the rule of law. The concurrent judicial reforms in Norway and Slovakia have received almost no attention. Although quite dissimilar to the former set, the latter underscore that institutional reforms cannot be viewed apart from their social and political settings. Continue reading >>
01 Juli 2020

Children in Lockdown

Medically (while more scientific studies are necessary), COVID-19 largely seems to have little impact on children. However, children have been deeply affected by the lockdowns implemented to protect everyone else’s vulnerability. There is one issue which has so far received scant attention in the Covid-19 English-language constitutional law analysis, namely that of the ramifications of domestic lockdowns for children’s constitutional protections. Using Norway as a case study, we identify a set of issues and propose how a critique could have been articulated. Continue reading >>
25 Juni 2020

Loyalty vs. Sovereignty

The German Constitutional Court’s Weiss ruling has led to a major debate as to whether a national supreme court may disregard ECJ case law, asserting that the ECJ had acted ultra vires. Similar debates have existed for quite some time in the EFTA pillar of the EEA, consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. A relatively small but powerful group of lawyers in the Norwegian administration (led by the Government Attorney), orthodox dualist professors and judges loyal to the government has used Norway’s dominant position to attempt to redefine EEA law. One of the most effective strategies is the suppression of the notion of loyalty or good faith and its replacement by a strategy of creating “room for manoeuvre” (“RFM”) for Norway. Continue reading >>
29 Februar 2020

For Norway it’s Official: The Rule of Law is No More in Poland

The so-called “muzzle law”, adopted by the Polish parliament on January 23, was the last straw. On Thursday 27 February, the board of the Norwegian Court Administration decided to withdraw from its planned cooperation with Poland under the justice programme of the EEA and Norway Grants, due to concerns over the Polish justice reforms. Continue reading >>
29 November 2019

The Rule of Law in a European Economic Area with National “Room for Manoeuvre”

The former president of the EFTA Court, Carl Baudenbacher, lashes out at more or less the entire Norwegian legal community in his attempt to explain how Norway’s social security authorities (‘NAV’) have come to misinterpret Regulation 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems for years, and how public prosecutors, defence lawyers, judges, academics and the EFTA Surveillance Authority all failed to reveal this. This reply challenges his narrative and attempts to explain how use of the “room for manoeuvre” that EU/EEA law leaves to the national legislator can very well be combined with loyal fulfilment of EEA law obligations in an EEA based on the rule of law. Continue reading >>
21 November 2019

“Room for Manoeuvre” is the Real Reason for Norway’s EEA Scandal

Hans Petter Graver's explanation of the reasons for the EEA scandal that is currently shaking Norway is not convincing. The total failure of politics, administration, and courts cannot be explained by alleged “conflicts of law” problems, an “extraordinary situation” allegedly created by Norway’s EEA accession, or by a “legal overload” which occurred 25 years ago when EU single market law had to be taken over. Every European country that has joined the EEA on the EFTA side or the EU had to overcome these challenges. Continue reading >>
14 November 2019

The Impossibility of Upholding the Rule of Law When You Don’t Know the Rules of the Law

On October 28 2019, it became known that the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration has been systematically breaching the rule of law for years when it applied the EEA legislation incorrectly in cases of unemployment and sickness benefits and work assessment allowances. According to the Attorney General, at least 48 people have been wrongly convicted of social security fraud, 36 of whom have been sentenced to prison. Later investigations have revealed that the number is much higher. This blatant disregard of the rule of law illustrates what happens when political pressure meets legal professionals, judges and an administration who are blissfully ignorant when it comes to European law. Continue reading >>
11 September 2019

Norway’s Heureka Moment?

Norwegian elections are usually quite boring. While the government changes between different parties, the party structure has been remarkably stable for more than 80 years. And for decades, constitutional lawyers have been denied juicy electoral scandals. The electoral system runs smoothly without major hiccups. Monday’s local election brought at last a glimmer of excitement for Norwegian constitutional lawyers. Not only did a newly-formed protest movement shake up the traditional party landscape. It also came to light that Norway's public broadcaster attempted to manipulate students in the non-official school election. Continue reading >>
17 Mai 2014

Zwischen Stabilität und Wandel: die norwegische Verfassung wird 200 Jahre alt

Norwegen feiert heute den 200. Geburtstag der Verfassung vom 17. Mai 1814. Von den Verfassungen, die heute in Kraft sind, ist nur die U.S.-Verfassung von 1787 älter. Was stand 1814 in der norwegischen Verfassung, und wie sieht sie heute aus? Wie konnte sie so lange überdauern? Continue reading >>
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