Three Steps Ahead, One Step Aside: The AG’s Opinion in the Commission v. Poland Case

In the infringement case about forced retirement of Polish Supreme Court judges, the Advocate General has delivered his much-awaited opinion. The AG proposed that the Court should declare that Poland failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 19 TEU. I do agree with this conclusion. I do not share, however, the Advocate General’s view that the complaint of the Commission should be rejected as inadmissible as far as it is based on the right to an independent judge under Article 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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Straßburg und das Anti-Richter-Dilemma

Nach einem aktuellen Urteil des EGMR ist ein Gericht, an dem regelwidrig ernannte Richter_innen mitwirken, nicht "auf Gesetz beruhend" i.S.v. Art. 6 Abs. 1 EMRK. Was bedeutet, dass jeder, den ein solches Gericht verurteilt, sein Recht auf ein faires Verfahren in Straßburg einklagen kann. Der EGMR kontrolliert, ob die Regeln bei der Richterernennung eingehalten wurden. Das, so scheint mir, könnte in Polen noch massive Folgen haben, und nicht nur dort.

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Countering the Judicial Silencing of Critics: Novel Ways to Enforce European Values

The Polish government is stepping up its repression. The freedom of political speech is a main target. A national judge has not just the right but an outright duty to refer a case to the CJEU whenever the common value basis is in danger. Thus, a Polish judge faced with a case concerning the silencing of critics, must refer the matter to the CJEU and request an interpretation of Article 2 TEU in light of the rights at stake.

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New Challenges against the Judiciary in Romania

After a year 2018 dominated by conflicts between the President and the Government and marked by the adoption and entry into force of major changes of the judiciary legislation, the first part of 2019 brought new challenges to the rule of law in Romania, especially as regards the judiciary. All these changes aim at increasing the power of the executive over the prosecutorial part of the judiciary and at removing virtually all checks-and-balances in decision-making on the top prosecutorial offices.

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An Advanced Course in Court Packing: Hungary’s New Law on Administrative Courts

The design and establishment of the new Hungarian administrative judiciary provides insight into a new style of engineering illiberal constitutional democracy through dialogue with European constitutional actors. It is not simply the case that Hungary is undertaking judicial reform while the Article 7 TEU process is on its way. Rather, a new phase of judicial reform is passed under European supervision despite the clear threat it presents for the rule of law.

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Should the ECtHR Consider Turkey’s Criminal Peace Judgeships a Viable Domestic Avenue?

Turkey has seen an erosion of democracy in recent years, particularly since the July 2016 coup attempt. The European Court of Human Rights has received over 33,000 applications from the country. However, more than 90% have been rejected, many on the basis that they have yet to exhaust viable domestic avenues. This is a conundrum when there is no viable domestic judicial system that is independent from the state. Of notable concern is the Criminal Peace Judgeships (CPJ).

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“Existential Judicial Review” in Retrospect, “Subversive Jurisprudence” in Prospect. The Polish Constitutional Court Then, Now and … Tomorrow

Does anybody still remember what has happened to the Polish Constitutional Court – the first institution to be razed to the ground by the Polish counter-revolution? The “new court” that has emerged from the rubbles of the rule of law has more than readily embraced a new role of serving its political masters. The transformation of a once-proud and respected institution into a pawn on the political chessboard painfully reminds us of how deep off the cliff Poland has fallen in just three years.

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The Polish Judicial Council v The Bulgarian Judicial Council: Can You Spot the Difference?

On 17 September 2018, in Bucharest, the General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) voted to suspend the membership of the Polish National Judicial Council (KRS) due to growing fears of lack of judicial independence in Poland. It was reported that 100 representatives voted for suspension, 6 were against (the Polish delegation), and 9 abstained. The Bulgarian delegation was among the abstainees, so Western commentators may wonder what the motivation for this position was.

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Prosecuting a Judge that Enjoys Diplomatic Immunity: the Case of Judge Aydın Sefa Akay

After the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, more than 80,000 people have been detained in Turkey. One of the most interesting incidents was undoubtedly the arrest of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’ (MICT) (former) Judge Aydın Sefa Akay. The main problem in this situation was whether Judge Akay enjoyed diplomatic immunity even from his own State’s jurisdiction. What happened with Judge Akay has manifested the deficiency of international rules regarding the immunity of international judges and, moreover, that said rules must be so articulated that they leave no room for similar incidents in the future.

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Why the Polish Supreme Court’s Reference on Judicial Independence to the CJEU is Admissible after all

On August 2nd 2018, the Polish Supreme Court has referred questions to the European Court of Justice about whether or not the forced retirement of most of its senior judges and other infringements of judicial independence are compatible with EU law. That decision is a landmark step in the serious constitutional crisis in Poland that has been going on for several years. One issue is of fundamental importance: Is the SC’s preliminary reference  to the CJEU admissible?

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