The legal vs. political route to rule of law enforcement

The outcome of C-619/18 Commission v Poland will affect the current rule of law discourse on three grounds: First, it might exert pressure on the Council to finally act in respect of the Art. 7(1) TEU procedure against Poland. Secondly, the prospect of pecuniary sanctions in light of an Art. 260 TFEU procedure would create an incentive for Poland to (partially) redress the situation. And lastly, the effective functioning of the preliminary ruling procedure could be endangered.

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How to Address Rule of Law Backsliding in Romania

In this post, we will first summarise the situation in Romania before examining Frans Timmermans’ reaction to the latest evidence of rule of law backsliding there. This post concludes with a possible solution considering the diagnosis offered below: an infringement action based on Article 325 TFEU.

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The first judgment of the ECJ regarding a breach of the rule of law in Poland?

While the judgment in C-619/18 Commission v. Poland is unlikely to deliver a surprise as to the assessment of the Polish ‘reforms’, interesting issues are emerging in relation to the effects of the judgment for the Polish authorities. This piece starts from a brief discussion why the case seems lost for Poland, proceeding then to analysis whether and how the judgment should be implemented.

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Age is the limit? Background of the CJEU case C-619/18 Commission v Poland

Next month the Court of Justice of the European Union will make a decision that is likely going to feature in the future textbooks on European Union law. In the case C-618/19 Commission v Poland, the Court will tackle the topic of judicial independence and the question of whether the standards of the rule of law were violated by the Polish government and parliament and thus address a critical element of European Union’s legal system.

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Is a Microstate about to Provide EU Rule of Law with its Van Gend Moment?

In fifteen years of EU membership, Maltese courts have been remarkably reluctant to refer questions of interpretation to the CJEU. This could be about to change in litigation which could have far-reaching consequences for the direct effect of member states’ rule of law and human rights obligations. The dispute raises important, novel questions concerning the extent to which EU law of a classical constitutional nature could be democratised in much the same manner as the law of the internal market was democratised through Van Gend.

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Administrative Judicial Reform in Hungary: Who Gives a Fig about Parliamentary Process?

In the past few months, the Fidesz government has been working on the reform of the administrative judiciary at full speed. The Constitutional Court recently had the opportunity to slow down the process of undermining judicial independence by invalidating the reform legislative act on the basis of procedural irregularities. Even though the law had been adopted as a result of a chaotic parliamentary vote, the justices did not find a violation of the Fundamental Law. The outcome is not surprising, as the Court cannot be accused of exercising a particularly strong control over the parliamentary legislative process in general. What is puzzling, however, is the massive amount of hypocrisy manifested in the reasoning.

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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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