Catalonia in deadlock, and why that is a European problem

The Catalan territorial conflict is stuck. No clear solutions are on the table after the elections of December 21st. Catalans and Spaniards are failing so far to find solutions to the problem. But it is our European common problem and our common responsibility to try to help them. More specifically, EU institutions should be doing much more of what they have done so far. I blame them for their passivity in the last couple of months.

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The European Commission’s Activation of Article 7: Better Late than Never?

On Wednesday, the European Commission reacted to the continuing deterioration of the rule of law situation in Poland. The remaining question, of course, is why this argument has been used in the context of 7(1) as opposed of 7(2) given that the situation on the ground in Poland is clearly – in the view of the Commission, the Venice Commission and countless other actors – one of clear and persistent breach of values, as opposed to a threat thereof. The explanation might lie beyond the simple difficulty of the procedural requirements related to the sanctioning stage.

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Art. 7 EUV im Quadrat? Zur Möglichkeit von Rechtsstaats-Verfahren gegen mehrere Mitgliedsstaaten

Ungarns Veto blockiert einen Beschluss nach Art. EUV, Polen das Stimmrecht im Rat zu entziehen, und umgekehrt. Lässt sich das Veto umgehen, indem ein Verfahren gegen beide Mitgliedsstaaten gleichzeitig eingeleitet wird?

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Poland and the European Commission, Part II: Hearing the Siren Song of the Rule of Law

As Poland has careened away from the rule of law, the European Commission has struggled to work out its response. Given Europe’s multiple crises at the moment, the internal affairs of a rogue government or two may seem less critical to Europe’s well being than crises that affect multiple states at the same time, like the refugee crisis, the Euro-crisis or the fallout from Brexit. But the proliferation of governments inside the EU that no longer share basic European values undermines the reason for existence of the EU in the first place.

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Poland and the European Commission, Part I: A Dialogue of the Deaf?

On 21 December 2016, the European Commission adopted an additional Recommendation regarding the rule of law in Poland. Rather than starting the Article 7 sanctioning process, the Commission merely reiterated its old demands, added some new concerns and again held out the threat of Article 7 while apparently moving no closer to actually starting a sanctioning process. It is not that the Commission was unaware of what was happening in Poland. In December, the Commission stood by and watched the Polish government capture the Constitutional Tribunal. The new Recommendation indicates that the Commission simply chose not to act to head off the final stages of the Tribunal’s demise.

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Systemic Threat to the Rule of Law in Poland: What should the Commission do next?

Considering the overwhelming evidence of a deliberate governmental strategy of systematically undermining all checks and balances in Poland as well the uncooperative behaviour of Polish authorities, the Commission has been left with no other choice but to trigger the Article 7 mechanism. Even if there is no realistic chance of seeing the Council adopting sanctions against Poland, this step would finally oblige national governments, meeting in the Council, to face up to their own responsibilities.

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Can Poland be Sanctioned by the EU? Not Unless Hungary is Sanctioned Too

Hungary has announced to block any Article 7 sanctions that the EU might propose against Poland. Why should Poland back down when nothing will come of standing up to the EU? Given Polish intransigence, the Commission may be tempted to stall for time or to retreat, which would be disastrous for the rule of law in the European Union. But the power to levy Article 7 sanctions can be restored. The Commission should do now what it should have done long ago. It should begin by triggering Article 7 (1) not only against Poland, but against Hungary as well.

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