How to Stop Funding Autocracy in the EU

The EU finds itself in the perverse situation of providing some of the largest transfers of funds precisely to those governments who most prominently thumb their nose at its democratic and rule-of-law norms. The legal debate about this misses the fact that the EU already has a sufficient legal basis to suspend the flow of funds to states in which rule-of-law norms are systematically violated. The real problem to date has not been the lack of adequate legal tools, but the lack of political will on the part of the European Commission to use the tools that already exist.

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Selmayr’s Appointment: Why this Juncker Crisis is Much More Dangerous for the EU Commission than the Santer Crisis in 1999

The promotion of Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of cabinet Martin Selmayr to secretary general of the EU Commission has caused quite a stir in some parts of the press, but rather little critique in the EU Parliament, among EU lawyers and in the eurobubble in general. This episode will come back recurrently during the populist campaign against the EU institutions in 2019. And later it will still be used to weaken the Commission. 2019 will sadly be far from the end of this story.

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Kupierte Frei­handels­abkommen: Verfassungs­rechtliche Heraus­forderungen einer neuen Unionsstrategie

Bisher wurden die Mitgliedstaaten im Rahmen gemischter Abkommen bei allen Freihandelsverträgen der Union mit Drittstaaten eigenständige Vertragsparteien. Der Freihandel war damit keine ausschließliche Domäne der Union. Mit dieser Tradition wird die EU-Kommission unter ihrem Präsidenten Juncker nun brechen, wie sich aus unmissverständlichen Hinweisen in der Rede zur Lage der Union erkennen lässt. Was steht hinter diesem Paradigmenwechsel? Und ist er noch vereinbar mit dem Karlsruher Rechtsspruch, dass die mitgliedstaatliche Rechtssubjektivität nicht zu Gunsten einer staatsanalogen Union zurückweichen darf?

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The Asymmetric Bet of Europe

One of the options in Jean-Claude Juncker’s White Paper on the Future of Europe is an asymmetric Europe. While some comparative lawyers still treat asymmetry as an exception in the life of federal polities, actually this concept has progressively acquired a key role in the history of federalism. In other words, today asymmetry is the rule rather than the exception in this field.

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The End of the Grand Coalition and the Significance of Stable Majorities in the European Parliament

A few years ago, the German Constitutional Court had to rule on the significance of stable majorities in the European Parliament. Such majorities were not terribly significant, was the conclusion reached by the Court – at least not important enough to justify a three percent threshold for elections to the EP, laid down in German federal law. Under the constitutional conditions of the moment, the Court explained, the formation of a stable majority was not needed in the EU ‘for electing and continuously supporting a government capable of acting’. These past few weeks, a crisis has been unfolding in Brussels and Strasbourg that may turn out to be an interesting test case for the German Court’s analysis.

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The EU and Poland: Giving up on the Rule of Law?

With an off-hand remark in a Belgian newspaper, President Juncker has called off the EU Commission’s effort to pressure Poland into following the rule of law. If he went through with this, he would not only pull the rug from under his own First Vice President Timmermans and spare the national governments the necessity to live up to their responsibilities. The Commission President deciding that the slide of a member state into authoritarianism is not his business, with a Trump Presidency in the US coming, forgoes the European Union’s claim to be capable of fulfilling its leadership role in the world.

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