Dusting off the Old Precedent – Why the Commission Must Stick to the Art. 7 Procedure Against Poland

Here we go again. The reports are resurfacing that the Commission is ready to back away from the Article 7 procedure that was initiated against Poland last December. Should we be surprised? For anybody who vaguely follows the Commission’s vanishing act, the answer must be a resounding „no”. Instead, the analysis that follows offers a journey back in time and argues that the past teaches us some important lessons and … rhymes.

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Harnessing Artificial Intelligence the European Way

Will 10 April 2018 be remembered by many as the day of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the US Senate? The hearing was covered by the media in all aspects down to the tie he was wearing. But that was not the only important event taking place on that day, and maybe not even the most important one: I am talking about the Declaration on Cooperation in Artificial Intelligence, signed on the same day but hardly noticed. And yet its impact in the long term might exceed that of the current scandal about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica by far.

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Selmayr’s Appointment: Why this Juncker Crisis is Much More Dangerous for the EU Commission than the Santer Crisis in 1999

The promotion of Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of cabinet Martin Selmayr to secretary general of the EU Commission has caused quite a stir in some parts of the press, but rather little critique in the EU Parliament, among EU lawyers and in the eurobubble in general. This episode will come back recurrently during the populist campaign against the EU institutions in 2019. And later it will still be used to weaken the Commission. 2019 will sadly be far from the end of this story.

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Der europäische Sisyphos: ein Kommentar zur Europa-Rede Emmanuel Macrons in der Sorbonne

Ob eine Rede von historischer Tragweite ist, lässt sich meist erst Jahre später im Rückblick und in Kenntnis des weiteren Verlaufs der Dinge bemessen. Das dürfte auch für die Grundsatzrede zur Zukunft der europäischen Integration gelten („Initiative pour l’Europe“), die zwei Tage nach der Wahl zum 19. Deutschen Bundestag  der französische Staatspräsident Emmanuel Macron an der Sorbonne gehalten hat. Daher werde ich die Rede vorläufig und vorsichtshalber lediglich als bemerkenswert bezeichnen.

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Lex CEU: On the Commission’s Refusal to Disclose its Letter of Formal Notice in the Name of Mutual Trust

This post will offer a brief account of my unsuccessful attempts to gain access to the Commission’s letter of formal notice addressed to Hungary on 26 April 2017, that is, the letter adopted by the Commission in response to the adoption by the Hungarian authorities of what has become known as the Lex CEU. Before offering a critical assessment of the Commission’s reasoning, a brief account of the relevant context will be offered. This post will end with some general remarks on the EU’s repeated failed attempts to prevent illiberal not to say authoritarian regimes from consolidating within the EU.

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Poland and the European Commission, Part III: Requiem for the Rule of Law

On 20 February 2017, the Polish government has replied to the European Commission’s rule of law findings. That reply is so clearly absurd, rude and full of ‘alternative facts’ that the case to trigger the sanction mechanism in Art 7 TEU promptly is more compelling than ever. It is time for Member State governments to get their act together and make explicit their disapproval of a government that finds it acceptable not only to violate its national Constitution and EU values in plain sight but also to bully and disrespect EU representatives such as Frans Timmermans and Donald Tusk.

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The Proposed Amendment of the Comitology Regulation – A Constitutional Perspective

On Valentine’s day, the European Commission proposed “four targeted amendments” to the Comitology Regulation. In this blogpost it will be argued that while the proposal contains interesting elements, it is largely flawed from an institutional and constitutional point of view.

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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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The Commission vs Poland: The Sovereign State Is Winning 1-0

Studying Soviet legal theory is probably one of the most tedious activities imaginable, but it can teach us a great deal, sadly, about the contemporary reality in some of the Member States of the EU: a reality captured by Uładzisłaŭ Belavusaŭ’s catchy phrase ‘Belarusization’ of the EU with enviable precision. Not a single person familiar with the basics of the principle of the Rule of Law could possibly be in doubt that what is going on in Poland now is a partly Soviet-style dismantlement of the Western values of democracy and the Rule of Law. By having started its famed Pre-Article 7 Procedure against Poland the Commission made four drastic mistakes and did not move any closer to stopping Polish backsliding.

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