Defending the Open Society against its Enemies

On 18 June 2020, in the case of Commission v Hungary (Transparency of associations), the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice held that Hungarian authorities “introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions on foreign donations to civil society organisations” when it adopted a new legislation on NGO in 2017. How will the Hungarian government react? Six potential scenarios can be outlined from not doing anything (scenario 1) – an unlikely option due to the threat of pecuniary sanctions – to full and good faith compliance with the judgment resulting in the total repeal of the Lex NGO (scenario 6) – equally unlikely. Between these two, four additional ones may be foreseen.

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When Will the EU Commission Act?

When can we expect the European Commission to launch an infringement action against the “muzzle law”? When will the European Commission act to sanction Polish authorities’ refusal to comply with the Court of Justice’s A. K. preliminary ruling of 19 November 2019? When will the European Commission apply for financial sanctions following Polish authorities’ public refusal to immediately and fully comply with the Court of Justice’s interim relief order of 8 April 2020 in respect of the so-called “disciplinary chamber”? When will the European Commission launch an infringement action in respect of the unlawful actions of the so-called “Constitutional Tribunal”?

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Infringement Procedures in the Time of COVID-19

In the last weeks, members of the European Parliament and observers in the legal and academic community have, explicitly or implicitly, criticised the European Commission and the Court of Justice for their handling of ongoing infringement procedures. Put simply, the two institutions have been criticised for moving the existing cases forward, despite the fact that certain countries (first Italy, then followed by almost all other Member States) are in lockdown and, consequently, their administrations are unable to effectively respond.

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Open Letter to the President of the European Commission regarding Poland’s “Muzzle Law”

The current procrastination is akin to dereliction of duty: Waiting to bring infringement actions and to fail to simultaneously seek interim measures when the rule of law in a Member State is so obviously and blatantly deteriorating on an industrial scale only means that the Commission faces a far more serious and intractable problem to deal with later.

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No Going Nuclear in Strasbourg

Mammadov v. Azerbaijan, the much anticipated judgment handed down by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights yesterday, is no ordinary judgment. It is the first time the Court has ruled in
an ‘infringement procedure’ – the most serious form of political pressure that members of the Council of Europe can exert on one of their own short of expulsion from the club.

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Why the EU Commission and the Polish Supreme Court Should not Withdraw their Cases from Luxembourg

The forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges has been reversed by the Polish legislator. Should the EU Commission and the Court of Justice now end their infringement procedure against Poland, too? There are several reasons why they should not.

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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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