What Does the Spring Bring for the Rule of Law in Europe?

The Hungarian minister of justice requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on two bills establishing a new administrative court system in November 2018. Yet, before the Venice Commission got to have its say, the twin laws were adopted in December 2018, with the new courts expected to commence their work in January 2020.

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Rule of Law Implications for Supranational Military Cooperation

The intergovernmental component based on international law principles remains quite strong in this policy field. However, the Council appears as a key decision-making body with regard to launching EU military missions, and determining the structural details (command and control). This certainly raises the question on which level of the multi-level legal system effective rule-of-protection mechanisms are in fact embedded.

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From Constitutional to Political Justice: The Tragic Trajectories of the Polish Constitutional Court

The Polish Constitutional Court, once a proud institution and an effective check on the will of the majority, is now a shell of its former self. The constitutional scars of the capture affect not only the legitimacy of the institution, but also the very constitutionality of the “decisions” rendered by the new court in 2017-2018.

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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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