The CEU Leaves – Hungarian Students are Left in the Lurch

For 27 years Central European University has operated in Hungary’s capital. That era has come to an end. The forced move of the CEU to Vienna signals to Hungarians and other citizens in illiberal democracies that vulnerability is their future. They are left to the wayside by the international community, abandoned by the European Union, and left questioning who will ever defend liberal-democratic values in practice.

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Sweet Like Sugar, Bitter Like a Lemon: Bulgaria’s CVM Report

On 13 November 2018, the Commission published the latest reports on Bulgaria and Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. Bulgaria’s report is full of praise. Not surprisingly, the Bulgarian government was overjoyed. The civil society, on the other hand, was clearly upset. Why? The short answer is that the picture painted by the CVM report does not correspond to reality and only pours water to Bulgaria’s autocratic mill.

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Never Missing an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity: The Council Legal Service Opinion on the Commission’s EU budget-related rule of law mechanism

Regrettably, we need to add the Council’s Legal Service to the list of key EU actors that seem intent on ignoring the existential threat to the Union posed by the spreading rule of law rot amongst EU member governments. In a (non-public) opinion on the proposed regulation of the Commission to create rule of law conditionality in the multi-annual financial framework adopted on 25 October 2018, the CLS indeed put forward multiple unpersuasive legal arguments to claim that the Commission’s proposal cannot be adopted. With this opinion, the CLS is advising the Council to actually prevent other institutions of the EU from doing their job to uphold and defend the set of common values on which the EU is based.

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What Being Left Behind by the Rule of Law Feels Like, Part II

By now it must be clear to all that the Hungarian and Polish governments do have a plan that is built on staying within the Union, and changing it from the inside, (ab)using its institutions, resources and weaknesses to their own benefit. Every round and every step where European institutions falter in preventing moves to this effect is an opportunity for the offending member states to pursue their strategies even further.

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What Being Left Behind by the Rule of Law Feels Like, Part I

On October 25, 2018 Central European University (CEU) made international news again. President and Rector Michael Ignatieff announced that CEU is moving to Vienna, unless the Hungarian government makes progress by December 1, 2018 on the international agreement it is meant to sign with the State of New York under Hungarian law. In the last few hours many readers of this blog, friends and colleagues, took to asking how I felt about this. Disappointed, frustrated – but most of all: betrayed.

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Will Poland, With Its Own Constitution Ablaze, Now Set Fire to EU Law?

The Polish justice minister and Prosecutor-General Zbigniew Ziobro has asked the Constitutional Court to declare Art. 267 TFEU unconstitutional "to the extent that it allows referring to the Court [of Justice] a preliminary question … in matters pertaining to the design, shape, and organisation of the judiciary as well as proceedings before the judicial organs of a member state". If the Court adopts Ziobro’s arguments, that will have drastic implications for the integrity of EU law.

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Executive and Legislative Organs of Hungary Disobey Court Rulings

Freedom of information is a heavily used tool of journalists and NGOs in Hungary, and a right protected by the courts and the Constitutional Court – but in some cases, even in very high profile cases, the process stops there. The judgement is not enforced, and the right to know remains theoretical and illusory, rather than practical or effective. Enforcement is increasingly eroded, which demonstrates the weakness of the Hungarian rule of law state.

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Beyond the Spectacle: The European Parliament’s Article 7 TEU Decision on Hungary

Emotions were high and voices loud while and after the European Parliament adopted its decision to trigger an art. 7 TEU procedure against Hungary this week. Once the dust settles, it might be helpful and disillusioning to look at the possible consequences, the collateral damages and the side-effects of the European Parliament’s art. 7 TEU decision.

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Fighting the Backlash – The South African High Court on the Suspension of the SADC Tribunal

Today, the South African Constitutional Court may have the last word on a case concerning South Africa’s suspension of the Southern African Development Community Tribunal. On 1 March 2018, the South African High Court found that this foreign policy decision violated substantive human rights. Even though it is easy to criticize the judgment for its scarce reasoning, the decision entails intriguing ideas for building a more principled foreign relations law in the South African context.

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