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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Rationalising political representation within the European Parliament: the Italian Constitutional Court rules on the threshold for the European elections

In December 2018, the Italian Constitutional Court found the national 4% threshold for elections to the European Parliament to be constitutional. Unlike the Bundesverfassungsgericht, which focused in-depth on the European state of affairs at a given stage, the Corte costituzionale has pointed to a gradual evolutionary development towards “a rationalisation of the representation of political forces within the European parliamentary assembly”. According to this interpretation, both the national parliaments and the European Parliament face similar challenges.

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Facebook’s Efforts to Squash Scrutiny of the EU-US Privacy Shield

Currently, Facebook is before the Supreme Court in Ireland asking to curtail judicial powers that allow courts to refer questions on the EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement to the CJEU. This is part of an ongoing litigation of Max Schrems, who was still an Austrian law student at the start of the litigation, against the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) in the jurisdiction of Ireland where Facebook currently holds its EU headquarters for tax and company law purposes. The litigation has the capacity to change the face of the transatlantic relationship, not least now, at a critical juncture of fragility and uncertainty and represents an extraordinary step.

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New Paradigms for the European Parliament

Without strong leadership Europe’s right-wing movements will remain a disparate band at next year’s European Parliament elections. There is one man who knows this: Viktor Orbán. The real battle next year will not be centred on Potemkin-like Spitzenkandidaten, but will polarise around Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán.

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Transnational Partisanship vs Transnational Democracy

The European Parliament has called for he creation of a European cross-border constituency, a transnational list of candidates from across the continent. This idea, recently popularised by French president Emmanuel Macron, has been gutted by the European People’s Party, though – a move which could itself be seen as a powerful manifestation of the importance of transnational partisanship in the EU.

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