Domestic Courts Pushing for a Workable Test to Protect the Rule of Law in the EU

On 17 February 2020, the Oberlandesgericht Karlsruhe passed a decision in a surrender case that we expect to shape the future of the LM-test. Its decision can be seen not only as a result of Luxembourg’s unworkable LM test but also as an acknowledgement of the effect of Poland’s muzzle law on the independence of its judiciary. Shortly after, Rechtbank Amsterdam engaged with this decision, thus making it more likely that the CJEU will have to move forward and develop its test into a more meaningful one.

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Luxembourg’s Unworkable Test to Protect the Rule of Law in the EU

A key rule of law case illustrating the conversation taking place between national judges and the Court of Justice about the how-to of rule of law protection is the CJEU’s LM ruling dealing with the implementation of the European Arrest Warrant. In it the CJEU developed a test to balance mutual trust and individual rights, particularly the right to a fair trial. The Rechtbank Amsterdam and the Karlsruhe Oberlandesgericht applied Luxembourg’s LM test with respect to Polish suspects in a series of recent (interlocutory) rulings. This national case-law is interesting both for its immediate outcome (suspension of surrenders) and its implicit message to Luxembourg: “Sorry, we tried, but your test is unworkable.”

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In Rights We Trust

Cases concerning the execution of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) provide seemingly endless material for new questions of fundamental importance to the relationship of the multiple constitutional layers in Europe. In a barely noted judgment in the case of Romeo Castaño v. Belgium, the European Court of Human Rights has now added an important piece to this puzzle. The judgment indicates that, in the light of other recent jurisprudence of both the Court of Justice of the EU and the ECtHR, both Courts are on their way to find a workable framework to address some of the issues in this field.

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Episode 5 of the Celmer Saga – The Irish High Court Holds Back

On 19 November 2018, Donnelly J gave her fifth judgment in the Celmer saga concluding that the real risk of a flagrant denial of justice has not been established by Mr Celmer and ordered that he be surrendered on foot of the European Arrest Warrants issued against him. Given that Donnelly J had initially found that there were ‘breaches of the common value of the rule of law’, this came as some surprise.

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The AG Opinion in the Celmer Case: Why the Test for the Appearance of Independence is Needed

In this post, I focus on what I believe is the most important question in the Celmer case: what kind of a test for the rule of law/fair trial, and with how many prongs? I argue that the rule of law/fair trial test that the Court should apply is the test for the appearance of independence, known from the practice of the ECtHR. I also argue that the Court should not leave the application of this test to the referring court but carry it out by itself.

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Hic Rhodus, hic salta: The ECJ Hearing of the Landmark “Celmer” Case

The highly anticipated hearing in the Celmer case took place on 1 June 2018 before the Grand Chamber of the ECJ. The stakes are undoubtedly high. On the one hand, the efficiency of the European Arrest Warrant mechanism is clearly at risk — a risk which could lead to broader consequences for the whole architecture of mutual trust and recognition. On the other hand, the Celmer dispute goes to the heart of the problems surrounding the current Polish judicial reforms, and to the ensuing concerns about judicial independence. Taking into account the present negotiations between the Polish government and the Commission, Celmer is unquestionably both political and delicate in the extreme.

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The Strange (German) Case of Mr. Puigdemont’s European Arrest Warrant

The decision by the Oberlandesgericht of Schleswig in the Puigdemont case is a flawed ruling that seriously undermines the effectiveness of the European arrest warrant, and I would even say its future survival. It is also a manifest example of mistrust between courts of Member States, the type of conduct that destroys the foundations of mutual recognition and judicial cooperation.

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Judicial Independence as a Precondition for Mutual Trust

The Celmer case calls for us to reflect on the question what role judicial authorities can and should play in ensuring compliance with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF) in other EU Member States. In our view, judicial authorities ultimately have an independent responsibility to put a halt to surrenders, in case the wanted person’s fair trial rights are put in peril due to a general lack of judicial independence in the issuing state. At the same time, the political responsibility for balancing diverse EU constitutional principles needs to be borne by democratically elected institutions. Therefore, the court of the executing state should not only halt or suspend judicial cooperation in the event that persuasive pieces of evidence point to a violation of the values shared by the EU and the Member States in the issuing state, but it should also freeze the case awaiting a resolution of the matter from political actors.

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Der Fall Puigdemont – ein europäisches Problem!

Ist die Auslieferung von Carles Puigdemont tatsächlich allein der deutschen Justiz überantwortet? Zweifel sind angebracht. Denn blickt man genauer auf den EU-Rahmenbeschluss zum Europäischen Haftbefehl, wird schnell deutlich: Es stellen sich eine Reihe europarechtlicher (Vor-)Fragen, zu deren Auslegung allein der Gerichtshof der Europäischen Union (EuGH) berufen ist.

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