Europe’s Rule of Law Dialogues: Process With No End in Sight

The cause for concern is not that violators of the rule of law are strategic political actors or that they are disingenuous. Rather, the real problem is the unspoken premise on the basis of which defenders of the rule of law are more and more inclined to accept these developments as the very features of the EU’s rule of law safeguards. This acceptance is based on the flawed premise that so long as a procedure is in place one cannot really do more to defend the rule of law.

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Never Missing an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity: The Council Legal Service Opinion on the Commission’s EU budget-related rule of law mechanism

Regrettably, we need to add the Council’s Legal Service to the list of key EU actors that seem intent on ignoring the existential threat to the Union posed by the spreading rule of law rot amongst EU member governments. In a (non-public) opinion on the proposed regulation of the Commission to create rule of law conditionality in the multi-annual financial framework adopted on 25 October 2018, the CLS indeed put forward multiple unpersuasive legal arguments to claim that the Commission’s proposal cannot be adopted. With this opinion, the CLS is advising the Council to actually prevent other institutions of the EU from doing their job to uphold and defend the set of common values on which the EU is based.

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The AG Opinion in the Celmer Case: Why Lack of Judicial Independence Should Have Been Framed as a Rule of Law Issue

On 28 June 2018, Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev delivered his Opinion in the Case C‑216/18 PPU Minister for Justice and Equality v LM on the surrender of a crime suspect to Poland. The issue is whether Mr. Artur Celmer, referred to by the Opinion as LM, should be surrendered from Ireland to Poland when there are serious doubts as to whether he would receive a fair trial, due to the alleged lack of independence of the judiciary resulting from recent changes to the Polish judicial system.

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The Commission takes a step back in the fight for the Rule of Law

The European Commission has filed a complaint against Poland with the Court of Justice of the European Union based on Article 258 TFEU, in connection with the Polish Act on the Common Courts System. Fines may be charged on Poland as a result of the case, but the Commission has probably quietly withdrawn some of its charges, apparently opting for the somewhat modified “Hungarian scenario”. The impact of this new approach on the reversibility of the changes introduced to the Polish judiciary will be very limited.

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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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Understanding the Politics of Resentment

Transitioning from „resentment” as an emotion of rejection and critique of the unsatisfactory liberal status quo to the more formalised and institutionalised „politics of resentment” is crucial in our understanding of the ascent of illiberal narratives in Europe. It gives us a chance of harnessing resentment in more conceptual terms and schemes.

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Mind the Gap! Schwierigkeiten der Rechtsstaatlichkeit in der EU

Seit Ende des Kalten Krieges haben sich sowohl internationale Organisationen als auch nationale Regierungen den Grundsätzen der Rechtsstaatlichkeit verschrieben – allerdings oft nur in Form von Lippenbekenntnissen. Welche Probleme resultieren aus diesem Vorgehen in der EU und vielleicht noch wichtiger: Was sollte dagegen unternommen werden?

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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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Much Ado About Nothing? Legal and Political Schooling for the Hungarian Government

After his infamous law against the Central European University, the EU Commission has announced a treaty infringement procedure against Hungary. That will probably be of limited help against the systemic threat to the rule of law in Viktor Orbán’s state. Politically more effective might be the pressure exerted by the European People’s Party.

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