Fighting Fire with Fire

At the first sight, the likely nomination of Věra Jourova as Commissioner for rule of law and dropping Frans Timmermans out of the portfolio appears to be a significant victory for the Visegrad Group. However, considering Jourova’s track record, her nomination might be a clever, but hazardous move by Ursula von der Leyen that may deepen the cleavage among the Visegrad countries, put an end to their coordinated acting in sovereignty related issues, and cause more headache in Budapest and Warsaw than expected.

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Offence Intended – Virgin Mary With a Rainbow Halo as Freedom of Expression

The news that a 51-year-old activist, Ms Elżbieta Podleśna, was detained and interrogated by Polish authorities shocked the public in Poland. She is charged under Poland’s "blasphemy law" for allegedly putting up posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo. This latest example of Polish authorities prosecuting cases of religious insults illustrates the incompatibility of Poland’s “blasphemy law” with European human rights guarantees, in particular the freedom of expression.

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22 Years of Polish Constitution: Of Lessons not Learnt, Opportunities Missed, and Challenges still to be Met

The Polish constitution, unlike the German which will celebrate its 7-O on 23 May of this year, has no big birthday scheduled this year. Nevertheless, the 22. anniversary of the Polish constitution on 2 April offers a good opportunity to ponder about the Constitution’s performance so far, to appreciate its resilience, to celebrate its many achievements and, last but not least, to map out its possible future trajectory.

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Three Steps Ahead, One Step Aside: The AG’s Opinion in the Commission v. Poland Case

In the infringement case about forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges, the Advocate General has delivered his much-awaited opinion. The AG proposed that the Court should declare that Poland failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 19 TEU. I do agree with this conclusion. I do not share, however, the Advocate General’s view that the complaint of the Commission should be rejected as inadmissible as far as it is based on the right to an independent judge under Article 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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How to Defend the Integrity of the EP Elections against Authoritarian Member States

The elections to the European Parliament will take place in a few weeks’ time. There is a clear danger that some of the new MEPs will gain their mandates in elections organised by Member States that are not up to democratic standards. The European Parliament should try to defend itself from being infiltrated by MEPs with questionable democratic mandates. It already possesses the competence which is necessary for it, in the form of mandate validation.

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The Role of Citizen Emotions in Constitutional Backsliding – Mapping Out Frontiers of New Research

Liberal, constitutional democracy is decaying in Eastern Europe. Important liberal institutions and norms face threats even in stronger and more stable democracies in Western Europe, and perhaps especially in the United States. the assault on key liberal institutions by populist movements has been as successful as it has because those groups have been able to harness – and fuel – the anger and anxieties of citizens.

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Fight Fire with Fire – a Plea for EU Information Campaigns in Hungarian and Polish

In the current crisis of democracy in the EU, we should not put too much pressure on the judiciary to fix the rule of law and democracy. Neither should we put too much hope for positive developments on (European) party politics. Rather I suggest that the EU should start speaking directly to the electorate via EU information campaigns in Hungarian and Polish. The 2019 European Parliament elections might provide an adequate framework for such campaigns.

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