10 Januar 2022

Who’s Afraid of the „Big Bad Court”?

The end of 2021 brought a new chapter in the saga of how should the primacy of the EU law be applied by Romanian courts. A press release of the Romanian Constitutional Court, issued on 23 December 2021, raised concerns about the conformity with the principles set forth in the case law of the CJEU regarding the primacy. The press release, albeit a non-legal document, might have a dissuasive effect upon the judges who would be, otherwise, willing to disapply some norms of internal law, according to the latest judgment of the CJEU on the matter. In Romania, the disregard of the decisions of the Constitutional Court can be a ground for disciplinary action against judges. Continue reading >>
07 Januar 2022

Goat, Cabbage and Wolf

According to a flurry of recent news, snowballed in almost identical form in the Western press, the Romanian Constitutional Court has ruled, just before Christmas, to deny the primacy of EU law. More often than not, analogies with Poland were made, glossing on surface similarities. The juxtaposition is misleading. As the late János Kornai put it, simply because we [i.e., countries in the hinterland, ces pays là-bas] are in the same hospital, that does not mean we suffer from the same sicknesses.

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22 Dezember 2021

Handle with Care

I will, in what follows, seek to answer the overarching question of this symposium, starting from a cautionary Romanian rule of law (RoL) reform tale. Other things being equal, its lessons may be extrapolated to the specific case of hopefully post-Orbánite Hungary. The specific context of Hungary presents, at least apparently, the Romanian problem in reverse, namely, the transition from an authoritarian nationalist regime to a pluralist, European, rule of law order. Continue reading >>
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 >>
18 Juni 2021

A Tale of Primacy Part. II

On 18 May 2021, the CJEU issued a judgment on several requests for preliminary ruling by Romanian national courts regarding the impact of EU law on Romanian laws on the judiciary and the CVM. On 8 June, the Romanian Constitutional Court issued a decision pertaining to the subject. In a succession of legal nonsense, it shattered hope that the CJEU’s judgment could be a guide for national courts for applying the primacy of the EU law. Continue reading >>
02 Juni 2021

A Tale of Primacy

In its 18 May ruling Asociația „Forumul Judecătorilor din România”, the ECJ took a solid stance on the primacy of EU law by recognizing the binding nature of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism established by the European Commission with respect to Romania in 2007. The judgment is a genuine guide to national courts on applying the primacy of EU law, especially as regards controversial issues such as the judicial independence and rule of law. Continue reading >>
26 März 2021

Romania: COVID-19 Response in an Electoral Year

The year 2020 was a difficult one for Romania, as for the whole world, because of the Covid-19 crisis which overlapped with other local crises of political, legal and social natures. The country’s response to the Covid-19 challenges was rendered even more difficult and incoherent by these crises. In February-March 2020, the government and the President were looking for a solution in order to initiate the procedure for early elections and at the very first moments of the pandemic the country had an interim government after a motion of censure had passed. Continue reading >>
21 Mai 2020

Romania in the Covid Era: Between Corona Crisis and Constitutional Crisis

In Romania, the sanitary crisis caused by the SARS-COV-2 pandemic started during an existing political crisis and overlapped, at a few crucial moments, with a constitutional crisis. The fact that 2020 is an electoral year had an important impact on the crisis management: on the one hand, the political conflicts increased, but, on the other hand, the fact that the power did not belong to the same political majority hindered potential abuses of one of the actors, especially of the President. Continue reading >>
16 April 2020

COVID-19 and Disposable Migrant Workers

Picture this: The world is battling a pandemic, with many countries in lockdown and borders closed. You arrive at a regional airport in northern Romania and wait for hours in the parking lot to board a charter flight. You might end up in Baden-Baden, Berlin or Düsseldorf—it’s hard to know, since no one is telling you what the final destination is. Physical distancing seems not to apply. You are jammed together with 2000 other people waiting to be placed as seasonal workers in the fields of Germany. Asparagus needs to be picked and the new crop need to be planted so the Germans can enjoy uninterrupted production of the spring vegetable through 2020 and 2021. Continue reading >>
29 Mai 2019
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How to Address Rule of Law Backsliding in Romania

In this post, we will first summarise the situation in Romania before examining Frans Timmermans’ reaction to the latest evidence of rule of law backsliding there. This post concludes with a possible solution considering the diagnosis offered below: an infringement action based on Article 325 TFEU. Continue reading >>
28 Mai 2019

Who’s Afraid of Voters Abroad

Low election turn-out in contemporary societies has been the subject of worries for the defenders of participatory democracy and even a topic of research to find ways of improvement. In this context, what happened on 26 May 2019 with Romanian voters all across Europe seems surreal. Continue reading >>
19 März 2019

Romania – Another Brick in the Wall Fencing the Fight against Corruption

On 4 March 2019, the Romanian Constitutional Court published its decision on two protocols of cooperation between the Romanian Intelligence Service and the National Prosecutor’s Office. This much-awaited decision is the latest but not the final step in a saga which started more than 15 years ago. Continue reading >>
22 Februar 2019

New Challenges against the Judiciary in Romania

After a year 2018 dominated by conflicts between the President and the Government and marked by the adoption and entry into force of major changes of the judiciary legislation, the first part of 2019 brought new challenges to the rule of law in Romania, especially as regards the judiciary. All these changes aim at increasing the power of the executive over the prosecutorial part of the judiciary and at removing virtually all checks-and-balances in decision-making on the top prosecutorial offices. Continue reading >>
09 Juni 2018

Lithuania and Romania Complicit for Hosting CIA “Black Sites”

On 31 May 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) confirmed in two simultaneously published judgments, Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania and Al Nashiri v. Romania, that Lithuania and Romania were involved in the running of secret detention facilities of the CIA, so-called “black sites”, on their territories as well as their “complicity” in the execution of CIA’s secret extraordinary rendition programme for suspected terrorists. Continue reading >>
06 Juni 2018

The Taming of the Court – When Politics Overcome Law in the Romanian Constitutional Court

The Romanian Constitutional Court has backstabbed the Romanian President in his efforts to protect the independence of the chief anti-corruption prosecutor. On 30 May 2018, the Constitutional Court ordered the President to dismiss the chief anti-corruption prosecutor via presidential decree. Before, the President had refused the proposed dismissal by the Minister of Justice based on an Advisory Opinion of the Superior Council of Magistracy that stated that the reasons brought forward against the chief prosecutor were not substantiated enough to justify a dismissal. Continue reading >>
31 Januar 2018

Failing to Struggle or Struggling to Fail? On the New Judiciary Legislation Changes in Romania

Like never before in the last 28 years in Romania, huge protests have started against the ‘assault against the judicial independence’. Awareness has been raised as regards the importance of a truly independent judiciary and the disastrous effects of political corruption on the very existence of a liberal democracy. Continue reading >>
15 Februar 2017

Living Democracy in Romania: From Protest to Referendum ?

What happened in Romania in the aftermath of the so called “Second Black Tuesday”? People were demonstrating on the street, Romanian authorities spoke up, the Constitutional Court came to rule twice, ultimately a popular referendum on anti-corruption measures is being discussed. Could this be a strong sign for the rule of law against the backdrop of corruption? Continue reading >>
01 Februar 2017

‘We Don’t Need No Constitution’ – On a Sad EU Membership Anniversary in Romania

These are troubled constitutional times in Romania. The newly elected government led by the corruption-ridden PSD party is pushing for legislative changes to make corruption offences virtually unpunishable by means of dubious Emergency Ordinances. A pending appeal before the Constitutional Court seeks to have legal provisions which prohibit persons with criminal convictions to occupy public positions in the Government declared unconstitutional. These attempts are met with resistance by the President who calls for an anti-corruption referendum. Continue reading >>
25 Januar 2017

Same-sex marriage before the courts and before the people: the story of a tumultuous year for LGBT rights in Romania

This article will briefly recount a particularly agitated year for LGBT rights in Romania, marked by a highly contentious campaign to amend the constitutional definition of marriage through a referendum, as well as the first referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union by the Constitutional Court, in a freedom of movement case involving a married mixed nationality same-sex couple. Continue reading >>
05 April 2016

Menschenwürde schlägt Anerkennungsgrundsatz

Europa fußt auf Vertrauen. Aber was, wenn manche europäischen Mitgliedsstaaten aufhören dieses Vertrauen zu verdienen? Ist die Vertrauenswürdigkeit ihrerseits Vertrauenssache? Angesichts der Mir-doch-egal-Haltung, die einige mittel- und osteuropäische Regierungen gegenüber dem Europarecht und den fundamentalen Verfassungsgrundsätzen Europas mittlerweile an den Tag legen, ist das keine theoretische Frage, sondern eine, von der Europas Zukunft abhängt. Heute hat der Europäische Gerichtshof sie auf eine Weise beantwortet, die mir einen Stein vom Herzen fallen lässt. Continue reading >>
27 November 2015

A New Revolution? The Recent Governmental Crisis in Romania

As of November 2015, Romania faces its most important social, political and constitutional crisis in the last quarter-century. If the 1989 Revolution signified a break with a totalitarian communist regime, the widespread street protests of 2015, which led to the fall of the Government, gave a new message: global dissatisfaction towards the whole political class and institutions marked by serious inefficiency and corruption. The Government's resignation led to an important constitutional crisis: one year before general elections, the country needed a new Government, but there was no clear political majority in Parliament to form one. In these circumstances, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, has tried a new approach, calling on social movements and appointing a non-political "techocratic" government. Time will tell if the decisions taken were right for Romanian democracy. Continue reading >>
23 Januar 2014

Kampf gegen Korruption in Rumänien: Das Verfassungsgericht verhindert eine Katastrophe

Die EU-Kommission hat gestern ihren 13. Fortschrittsbericht unter dem Kooperations- und Kontrollverfahren für Rumänien veröffentlicht. Sowohl Rumänien als auch Bulgarien werden seit 2007 von der EU-Kommission überwacht, die dabei hilft, rechtsstaatliche Reformen umzusetzen. Der Bericht betont die Sorgen der Kommission über die bedrohte Unabhängigkeit der Justiz und lobt den Verfassungsgerichtshof dafür, das Desaster einer „übereilten und intransparenten Änderung des Strafgesetzbuchs im Dezember 2013“ verhindert zu haben.The EU Commission published yesterday its 13th progress report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for Romania. Both Romania and Bulgaria have been subjected to monitoring by the EU Commission since 2007, which assisted the countries in their rule of law reforms. The report stressed the EU Commission’s concerns about threats to the independence of justice and praised the Constitutional Court for preventing the disaster of the “rushed and untransparent amendment of the Criminal Code in December 2013.” Continue reading >>
23 Juni 2013

The Idea of Democracy Protection in the EU Revisited

Im Umgang mit Mitgliedsstaaten, in denen Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit ins Rutschen kommen, zeigen sich EU-Kommission und EU-Parlament weniger hilflos und unentschlossen, als manche befürchtet hatten. Doch reicht solch punktueller Druck aus? Jan-Werner Müller berichtet über die jüngsten Entwicklungen in Brüssel und antwortet zum Abschluss des Verfassungsblogs-Symposiums "Ungarn - was tun?" auf die Kritiker seines Vorschlags, als unabhängige Instanz eine "Kopenhagen-Kommission" einzurichten. Continue reading >>
14 Juni 2013

Wie die rumänische Regierung die Verfassung „verbessern“ will

Letztes Jahr scheiterte der Versuch der rumänischen Regierungskoalition, den Präsidenten per Referendum zu stürzen, an zu niedriger Wahlbeteiligung und am Widerstand des Verfassungsgerichts. Jetzt bereitet sie einen zweiten Anlauf vor - und will dabei die Verfassung ihren Plänen anpassen. Ein Parlamentsausschuss hat entsprechende Änderungen beschlossen - unter dem Vorsitz von niemand anderem als dem Präsidentschaftskandidaten der Koalition. Continue reading >>
13 Mai 2013

The Crisis of Democracy in Hungary and Romania – Learning from Weimar?

Hungary’s political development under the Orbán government is by now […] Continue reading >>
08 Mai 2013

The Hungarian Dilemma from a Pluralist Perspective

The constitutional and political developments in Hungary in the last […] Continue reading >>
08 April 2013

Sinn und Unsinn einer Kopenhagen-Kommission

1. Versäumnisse Von den politischen Akteuren wird eingeräumt, dass es […] Continue reading >>
07 April 2013

Opening the enforcement of EU fundamental values to European citizens

Over the last two years, the adoption, implementation and, more […] Continue reading >>
27 März 2013

Supremacy of the EU Charter in National Courts in Purely Domestic Cases

The European Union is not just a community based on […] Continue reading >>
25 März 2013

The EU Is More Than A Constraint On Populist Democracy

Jan-Werner Müller’s eloquent proposal on what the EU should do […] Continue reading >>
22 März 2013

Less Constraint of Popular Democracy, More Empowerment of Citizens

While I share Müller’s concern about the situation in Hungary […] Continue reading >>
21 März 2013

„What“ versus „Who“: Europe’s Rule of Law Agenda Revisited

As we all know, observance of the “Rule of Law” […] Continue reading >>
13 März 2013

Die EU als wehrhafte Demokratie, oder: Warum Brüssel eine Kopenhagen-Kommission braucht

Kann es innerhalb der Europäischen Union eine Diktatur geben?  Vor […] Continue reading >>

Ungarn – was tun?

Am Montag hat das ungarische Parlament ein Paket von Verfassungsänderungen […] Continue reading >>
09 August 2012

Rumäniens Verfassungsrichter fürchten um ihr Leben

Vor einigen Monaten hatten wir hier auf dem Blog eine […] Continue reading >>
12 Juli 2012

Romania In Hungary’s Footsteps: Different Victor, Same Strategy

By ANITTA M. HIPPER On January 1, 2012 with an […] Continue reading >>
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