From Emergency to Disaster

This week, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government put before the Hungarian Parliament two draft laws that, if passed, would end the state of emergency and create a new legal framework for handing the pandemic from here on out.  In doing so, the government was responding to those who criticized the unlimited power that the government had been given in the law creating a pandemic emergency, the Enabling Act of 30 March 2020.  That law allowed the government to override any law by decree, a power that was unlimited in both scope and time and that violated Fidesz’ own “illiberal” constitution the Fundamental Law.  

The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.   One of the draft laws is less than one page long accompanied by two pages of justification.   It purports to repeal the initial Enabling Act (about which, more below).    The other one is called the law on “transitional provisions” and at first it seems only to provide lots of technical answers to questions that arise about how to reset deadlines for various legal processes that were delayed when the economy stopped. The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.

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Constitutional Innovation, Democratic Stagnation?

The recovery plan of the Commission entitled “Next Generation EU” proposes a compromise that goes beyond the ominous lowest common denominator. With a package of EUR 750bn in total, comprising EUR 250bn in loans and the rest in grants, the Commission paves the way for both forward-looking public finance and constitutional innovation. The proposals are masterpieces of high-tech legal engineering. Again, European constitutional law evolves through crisis. Yet, again, it stands to reason how far the proposed instruments will shift the European Union towards enhancing solidarity and democracy.

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Showdown at the Last Chance Saloon

As a political slogan, and a guideline in times of crisis, ‘whatever it takes’ undoubtedly has enormous appeal, and may in certain circumstances justify novel and untried forms of action. However, in a polity governed by the rule of law, there are limits to this approach which, if not respected, may cause greater problems than those which provoked the action in the first place.

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Corona Constitutional #27: Justiz-Iron Man in Polen

Seit Wochen streiten die Richterinnen und Richter des polnischen Obersten Gerichtshofs darüber, wer für den vakanten Präsidentenposten kandidieren soll. Am Freitag könnte die Entscheidung endlich fallen. Was genau dort vor sich geht, und was auf dem Spiel steht, erklärt ANNA WÓJCIK vom Osiatyński Archiv im Gespräch mit Max Steinbeis.

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The Last Chance Saloon

To all intents and purposes, Orbán and his government have ceased to be democratically accountable either to the Hungarian Parliament or to the citizens of Hungary. The words in that last sentence are chosen carefully and with meaning. This blogpost suggest that Article 10 TEU may provide a basis for the exclusion of Hungarian representatives from the European Council and the Council of the European Union.

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Serbia and Covid-19: State of Emergency in a State in Disarray

The reaction of the Serbian authorities to the Covid-19 crisis demonstrated a weakness of Serbian state institutions: The measures imposed by the Serbian Government as a response to the Covid crisis, as well as the reaction of the competent bodies, are problematic both from a procedural and a substantive perspective. To make things worse, the judiciary has not been a great help either.

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Being a Lawyer in Times of “Constitutional Pandemics”

Engaging in academic discussions aimed at better understanding the rampant anti-constitutional shenanigans and at finding adequate cures – while crucial conceptual work – is no longer sufficient. Much more is needed, no less a constitutional temperament and engagement on the ground that place us and our work in a more general context and explain what and how we respond on a behavioral level. Looking through the prism of temperament invites questions about the necessary virtues that go beyond academic excellence. This is clearly palpable in the evocative concept of constitutional fidelity.

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Economic Interests and the Rule of Law Crisis in the EU

Legal scholarship needs to be more open to the political reality in order to effectively tackle the rule of law crisis. To go one step further, I argue that without considering the economic interests of all the relevant individual and institutional actors (corporations and governments) we will never fully understand the failures of the EU responses to the rule of law backsliding.

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A Tale of Two: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rule of Law in Cyprus

Once the first case of COVID-19 was reported on 9 March 2020, the Republic of Cyprus introduced emergency measures to contain the spread of the virus, as per the powers granted under the Constitution in the event of emergency. Following scientific advice, the Cypriot Government responded quickly by limiting temporarily personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, disrupting once again the constitutional legal order.

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