The Schrödinger’s Advocate General

We know Brexit means Brexit but should it also mean violating EU Primary Law? Eleanor Sharpston QC, one of the Advocates General of the European Court of Justice, launched an unprecedented legal action "against the EU and her own judicial colleagues after attempts were made to sack her": The national governments of 27 EU Member States decided to terminate her appointment early. Why? Because Brexit ought to mean Brexit or so it seems.

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Unquestioned supremacy still begs the question

Earlier this week, 32 leading scholars of EU law and politics signed the statement that national courts cannot override CJEU judgments, in response to a demonstration by the BVerfG that it actually can. We share the signatories’ concern that Weiss might (and most probably will) be used as a pretext for refusing to comply with the CJEU’s rulings and the EU rule of law requirements in Member States such as Poland or Hungary. We are also critical of the conclusion to which the BVerfG arrived in its decision, though we accept some of its premises (i.e., that the national disapplication of EU acts may be justified in some rare and exceptional cases). However, even though we are not all constitutional pluralists, we take issue with some aspects of the reasoning behind the original statement and question the doctrinal and empirical arguments it invokes in favour of EU law’s unconditional supremacy.

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Squaring the PSPP Circle

The PSPP judgment made a core problem of the European Union painfully visible as the supremacy of EU law clashed with national constitutional identity. There is, however, a possibility to square this circle: national apex courts could be empowered to issue ‘declarations of incompatibility’ under Article 4(2) TEU as an alternative to the disapplication of EU law.

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Fight, flight or fudge?

Karlsruhe’s latest judgement on the PSPP moves the German state closer to a full-fledged fight with either the EU or its own Constitutional Court by threatening to prohibit Germany’s participation in a programme that has existential significance for the euro. To resolve this dilemma, perhaps nothing short of a revolutionary moment would be required.

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The Right Question about the FCC Ultra Vires Decision

Instead of re-opening the old debate on the merits and demerits of constitutional pluralism, the FCC decision should be actually taken up as an opportunity to concentrate on another systemic feature of the EU constitutional governance. The decision of the FCC is not a sign that we have a problem with constitutional pluralism in Europe but warns us that we have a major constitutional problem with the constitutional role of the ECB.

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Gut gemeint, nicht gut gemacht

Welch gravierendes Versäumnis ist dem EuGH im PSPP-Fall unterlaufen, dass sein Urteil der Senatsmehrheit im BVerfG als „schlechterdings nicht mehr nachvollziehbar“ , „methodisch nicht mehr vertretbar“ und „objektiv willkürlich“ gilt? Im Kern lautet der Vorwurf, der EuGH habe den Verhältnismäßigkeitsgrundsatz verkannt. Indes ergeben sich bei näherem Hinsehen erhebliche Zweifel am so drastisch formulierten Befund.

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Ultra schwierig

„Legal nationalism“, „BVerfG goes nuclear“, „konfuses Urteil“ – trifft die schrille Kritik wirklich den Kern dieses Urteils? Nüchtern betrachtet bleibt es ein aufsehenerregendes Urteil, das aber weder einen kategorialen Bruch des gewachsenen Kooperationsverhältnisses zwischen Karlsruhe und Luxemburg bedeutet, noch der EZB eine ordoliberale Zwangsjacke verabreicht.

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Some Preliminary Remarks on the PSPP Decision of the German Constitutional Court

Karlsruhe’s PSPP decision will not be hard to address as to its actual legal outcome, contrary to what might seem at first instance. But its market effects may be highly problematic. The uncertainty the decision will generate in the short term and the constraints arising from the obiter dicta of the Court for Germany’s participation in the EU response to the Coronavirus situation will likely have some serious negative effects.

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