Corona Constitutional #37: Epidemische (Schief-)Lage

Während die Deutschen wieder Bars besuchen und Urlaube planen, funktioniert die Politik weiter im Corona-Ausnahme-Modus. Ist es an der Zeit, das Ende der epidemischen Lage einzuläuten? Und wie wirkt sich das Virus auf unser Verständnis von Demokratie und Gewaltenteilung aus? Darüber diskutiert Charlotte Heppner im heutigen Podcast mit THORSTEN KINGREEN von der Universität Regensburg.

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Inherited Confusion

Necessitas non habet legem, this ancient maxim meaning that necessity has no law appears to be applicable to Tunisia during the pandemic. The Tunisian authorities rapidly took measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak. But the broad language used in the legal texts ruling the COVID-19 crisis – such as the constitution and the various governmental and presidential decrees – combined with legal doctrine likening Tunisia’s constitutional emergency clause to that of France have added to the confusion of power. This is not only endangering the newly installed democratic government but illustrates how the adoption of a foreign constitutional framework impacts new democracies, making it difficult for the Tunisian constitutional system to evolve.

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Investment Law in Corona Times: How Myths Fuel Injustice

One of the leitmotivs of the discourse around the pandemic is that ‘there cannot be going back to business as usual’ (see here and here). Yet, it is business as usual that is alarmingly looming in Corona times. In this context, at least two developments are worthy of note: the first is the much discussed risk of a wave of Covid-related investment claims. The second, possibly less noticed, is that countries are silently expanding the scope of a system that does not adequately strengthen sustainability in economic relations, despite laconic initiatives to this purpose.

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Lifting Travel Restrictions in the Era of COVID-19: In Search of a European Approach

On 13 May, the European Commission presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to help Member States gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen. With this initiative, the Commission aimed to play a pro-active role in ensuring an orderly and coordinated exit strategy after months of lockdown in virtually all EU Member States. However, few weeks later, it seems that every Member State applies its own rules and timetable for lifting the travel restrictions, leading to a non-transparent patchwork of rules and regulations.

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Ein Lieferkettengesetz – wichtiger denn je

Wenn aktuell über Lieferketten gesprochen wird, geht es vor allem darum, wie ihre Funktionsweise trotz Corona-Krise aufrechterhalten werden kann. Über die Auswirkungen der Krise am Anfang der Lieferketten wird kaum gesprochen. Dort arbeiten Menschen unter Bedingungen, die keine soziale Distanz zum Schutz der eigenen Gesundheit erlauben. Weil europäische Firmen massenhaft Aufträge stornieren, werden Arbeiter*innen auf die Straße gesetzt, ohne dagegen sozial abgesichert zu sein. Das Lieferkettengesetz, um das es in diesem Symposium geht, ist ein Baustein für eine fairere Globalisierung.

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From Emergency to Disaster

This week, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government put before the Hungarian Parliament two draft laws that, if passed, would end the state of emergency and create a new legal framework for handing the pandemic from here on out.  In doing so, the government was responding to those who criticized the unlimited power that the government had been given in the law creating a pandemic emergency, the Enabling Act of 30 March 2020.  That law allowed the government to override any law by decree, a power that was unlimited in both scope and time and that violated Fidesz’ own “illiberal” constitution the Fundamental Law.  

The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.   One of the draft laws is less than one page long accompanied by two pages of justification.   It purports to repeal the initial Enabling Act (about which, more below).    The other one is called the law on “transitional provisions” and at first it seems only to provide lots of technical answers to questions that arise about how to reset deadlines for various legal processes that were delayed when the economy stopped. The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.

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Constitutional Innovation, Democratic Stagnation?

The recovery plan of the Commission entitled “Next Generation EU” proposes a compromise that goes beyond the ominous lowest common denominator. With a package of EUR 750bn in total, comprising EUR 250bn in loans and the rest in grants, the Commission paves the way for both forward-looking public finance and constitutional innovation. The proposals are masterpieces of high-tech legal engineering. Again, European constitutional law evolves through crisis. Yet, again, it stands to reason how far the proposed instruments will shift the European Union towards enhancing solidarity and democracy.

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COVID-19 in Paraguay: Health Success and Constitutional Deficit

Paraguay has been rated as the South American country that has best avoided the spread of COVID-19. This success could have come under the wing of the rule of the Constitution. However, up to now, the Paraguayan response to COVID-19 brought along with it the use of a constitutionally questionable law, kept in force a terrible approach to constitutional interpretation, and missed the opportunity for the branches of public power to collaborate with one another.

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Fighting COVID-19 with Religious Discrimination

The Korean authorities have garnered significant praise for their effective response to COVID-19. However, the country’s experience has not been without controversy. A significant proportion of cases were publicly attributed to a controversial religious congregation, and the authorities’ dealings with its members raise questions about compliance with a number of human rights.

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