EU Rule of Law Dialogues: Risks – in Context

On January 16, 2020 the European Parliament passed a resolution about the state of the Article 7(1) TEU hearings with Hungary and Poland, noting with concern that “the reports and statements by the Commission and international bodies, such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe, indicate that the situation in both Poland and Hungary has deteriorated since the triggering of Article 7(1) of the TEU”. The resolution is a plea for a structured and more meaningful process in which each EU institution would exercise its existing powers in a meaningful and cooperative manner. The resolution emphasizes that the Article 7(1) TEU preventive process is one of risk assessment and one that may have actual – including budgetary – consequences.

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A Matter of Representative Democracy in the European Union

With its judgment in the Junqueras case, the Court adopted a functional approach to the election procedure of the European Parliament, proceeding from the principle of representative democracy as one of the core values in the EU legal order. In particular, the Court stressed the need to ensure that the composition of the European Parliament fully reflects the free choice of the Union’s citizens, by direct universal suffrage.

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The European Parliament Sidelined

When the Council adopted the first set of procedural rules governing Article 7(1) TEU hearings in July 2019, it unilaterally decided to make the Commission the proxy for the Parliament. This post will show how the Council’s differential treatment of the Commission and the Parliament as activating bodies under Article 7(1) is not compatible with EU primary law and goes against in particular the principle of institutional balance.

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Fairness, Trust and the Rule of Law

On October 10, 2019, the European Parliament’s Committees in charge of her proposed fields of responsibility rejected Sylvie Goulard, the French candidate for the position of Commissioner in the new Commission. It was the second hearing she had to undergo, on the basis of another around 60 pages of written Q&A. Several issues should be carefully considered.

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The European Ombudsman as an Insurmountable Roadblock?

On 17 September 2019, the European Ombudsman adopted a decision rejecting a complaint against the European Parliament submitted by The Good Lobby, an NGO “committed to giving voice to under-represented public interests and bringing more citizens into the public policy process”. The action was supported by Alberto Alemanno, also co-founder and director of the NGO, and Laurent Pech. In their post of last May 2019 they already described in detail their dealings with the Authority of European political parties and European political foundations (hereinafter the Authority) and with the President of Parliament. The subsequent stages and the Ombudsman’s take reveal the wider consequences of this process and some silver linings.

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Has the Spitzenkandidaten System Failed and Should We Care?

The nomination of Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen is both a beginning and an end. It begins a new chapter for the European Commission with its first woman president. But also appears to mark the end of the Spitzenkandidaten approach to the selection of European Commission presidents. Indeed, all of the ‘lead candidates’ of the European political groupings were left empty-handed. If this is to be the demise of Spitzenkandidaten, will its passing be mourned?

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Holding European Political Parties Accountable – Testing the Horizontal EU Values Compliance Mechanism

The rather obscure horizontal EU values compliance mechanism shall give groups of EU citizens the possibility to hold European political parties accountable for non-compliance with EU values. Actually trying do so, however, may turn out to be just as unsuccessful as the Article 7 TEU procedure.

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The Birth of Political Europe

With just 90 days to go before the European Parliament elections, the EU political and societal landscape is undergoing a profound and historical shake-up. This goes well beyond the reductionist and highly-polarized depiction of the pro-EU vs anti-EU / open vs closed society debate championed by our political class and magnified by the media. The effects of EU policies on citizens’ lives as further amplified by the Brexit collective journey have gradually led to the emergence of a timid, yet evolving, common pan-European debate. Yet, as epitomized by Emmanuel’s Macron multi-lingual op-ed unparallelly addressed to the whole EU electorate, this Europeanisation of the political conversation is unveiling an inconvenient truth.

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Inter-institutional Agreement Reached on Framework for Screening of Foreign Direct Investments

The EU has one of the world’s most open investment regimes, and collectively EU Member States have the fewest restrictions in the world on foreign direct investment. A proposal for a Union Act on the Screening of foreign investment in strategic sectors was tabled by ten Members of International Trade Committee (INTA) at the European Parliament (EP). The inter-institutional “provisional” agreement is going to be voted by the full House of the EP on the 14th of February 2019.

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