Ripples from across the pond: Extraterritorial Effects of the Microsoft Ireland Case

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One of the big internet cases of this year, the Microsoft Ireland case, has come to an end about a month ago as the 2nd Circuit Court has handed down its ruling in favour of Microsoft. The case made quite a splash and has been covered  before at the RENFORCE blog. With the verdict in, the time is ripe to revisit it and look at it again, this time from a different angle. Continue reading

Blow that whistle!

whistleIn April 2014, the Albanian Ministry of Justice and the Minister of State on Local Issues granted the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law & Criminology the task of designing a Whistleblower Protection Law for Albania. This project was supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Albania and funded by the Dutch Rule of Law Programme. The team responsible for drafting the Law and the explanatory memorandum consisted of researchers from the Research Programmes UCALL and RENFORCE: François Kristen (UCALL), Eelke Sikkema (UCALL), John Vervaele (RENFORCE), Dina Siegel-Rozenblit (RENFORCE) and myself (RENFORCE). The draft Law and the explanatory memorandum were sent to Tirana in March 2015, and in the beginning of June this year, the Netherlands Embassy announced that the Albanian Parliament had approved the Whistleblower Law. The Law will enter into force once it is promulgated by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Gazette. However, it is important to note that until its publication in the Official Gazette we do not know to what extent the approved Law differs from the draft Law we submitted. Continue reading

Balancing security and freedom in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

balansThe 2016 Annual European Criminal Law Academic Network (ECLAN) Conference was entitled “The Needed Balances of EU Criminal Law: Past, Present and Future”. One of the discussed topics was how to establish the right balance between measures that provide security and those that protect freedom. The point was strongly made that EU law to date has focused too much on establishing an Area of Security by adopting mutual recognition instruments and minimum harmonization measures which contribute to the protection of individuals against cross-border criminality. An example is the widening definition of offences linked to terrorist activities. After the 9/11 attacks, Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA was adopted whose provisions include the definition of terrorist offences and offences linked to terrorist activities. In 2008, Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA broadened the scope of offences linked to terrorist activities by criminalizing recruitment and training for terrorism. In 2015, as a response to the continuing and growing threat of terrorism, the Commission introduced a far-reaching proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism. Title III of this Directive on offences related to terrorist activities includes ‘travelling abroad for terrorism’, which is a new offence. Continue reading

(R)evolution in the EU System of Political Accountability: Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny mechanism

 

Source: Lex van Lieshout

Source: Lex van Lieshout

On 11 May 2016, the European Parliament adopted a new regulation for Europol, which will enter into force on 1 May 2017. This Regulation establishes the – so far unprecedented political accountability mechanism in the EU – Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny. The introduction of a mechanism, which links political accountability fora of the EU and the national levels, is a revolutionary development for the evolving multi-level accountability system (of EU agencies). To enhance democratic legitimacy of the EU structures and decisions, the legislative and accountability roles of the European Parliament have grown significantly in the last decennia (Scholten 2014). Yet, never before did national parliaments become involved in holding EU entities to account, too. Continue reading

Locked out: Exclusion, discrimination and repression in the State of ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’

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French disadvantaged neighborhoods as symbolic prisons. Photo: Léa Massé

In the wake of the Paris attacks that struck France in November 2015, the French government adopted a temporary state of emergency, announcing that the country was ‘at war’ with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The emergency Law – extended until May 2016 – has included a series of measures strengthening law-enforcement scope of actions, including preventive stop-and-frisk, housing arrest without prior judicial approval, warrantless searches, police raids, and citizenship withdrawal for individuals suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. Over a period of six months, more than 3200 raids have been conducted by law-enforcement officials and 400 people have been placed under house arrests. While the state of emergency seems to bear fruits, a recent report published by Human Rights Watch in February 2016 denounces abusive police practices and serious human right violations targeting mostly disadvantaged urban neighborhood residents. Continue reading

The Netherlands move ahead with Competition and Sustainability

greenBy the end of January 2016 the public consultation by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs on the new Guidelines Competition and Sustainability will have closed. The Minister will then take into account the remarks made, for example those by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands, and finalize the Guidelines calling upon the ACM – the Dutch Competition Authority  – to take into account sustainability-benefits when assessing an otherwise anti-competitive agreement. This is quite revolutionary.

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Export Control of Dogs to Israel: Dual-Use Items under EU Law

Foto door Teunie, CC BY-SA

Photo by Teunie, CC BY-SA

On 9 February, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation wrote to the Dutch Parliament a  letter on  “export controls on dogs”. In her letter, the Minister informed the Dutch Parliament that there is no existing legal basis for restricting dogs to be exported to Israel. What are the “export controls of dogs” all about? Continue reading

Liberté, Liberté chérie… where things can go wrong. The French reaction to the terrorists attack in Paris

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Photo by: Fugitron (CC BY-SA)

Following the Paris attacks of November 2015, president Hollande declared a state of emergency in France for twelve days. It was extended for three months until the 26th of February 2016 by the law no 2015-1501 of 20 November 2015 which, with no surprise, was adopted almost unanimously (only 12 negative votes and one abstention). According to the law no 55-385 of 3 April 1955 the state of emergency can be declared where there is an imminent danger to the public order, or in relation to events which amount, by their nature and severity, to a public disaster. It is clear that this exceptional regime was declared in order to specifically address the terrorist attacks by religious fundamentalists. As in many other Union member states, France witnesses a growing concern for internal security. However, this concern may stifle the equally important concern for justice and freedom that characterizes any state based on the rule of law. It further poses the question of the actual efficiency of legislation on security in the fight against terrorists. Continue reading

Why is “four” better than “three” when it comes to the lines of defence in financial institutions?

photo by SteelCityHobbies

photo by SteelCityHobbies

Certainly one of the greatest banking scandals of any age, the LIBOR fraud rocked the global financial industry. Manipulating interbank interest rates for almost two decades, the scale of the LIBOR deceit was staggering: 3 continents, 10 countries, 20 banks.

How could that happen on such a massive scale?

What LIBOR and other crises have shown is that banks need to enhance corporate governance measures. Most importantly, such incidents have led to a further prioritisation of governmental and supervisory agendas relating to the potential systemic implications of weak internal control systems, shifting the focus from the soundness of individual financial entities to the integrity and stability of the whole financial system. As Schwarcz maintains, the sheer perils financial supervisors have currently to cope with are attached to the risk “that a trigger event, such as an economic shock or institutional failure, causes a chain of bad economic consequences—sometimes referred to as a domino effect”. Systemic risk, indeed. Continue reading

Enforcement of European Union values: how should the EU respond to the recent threat to democracy in Poland?

Polish and EU flagLet’s admit it, things are going wrong in Poland and it can be said that democracy is seriously under threat in the European Union’s sixth-largest Member State. On 23 December 2015, the Sejm – the lower house of the Polish Parliament – passed a highly controversial law, which reorganizes the Constitutional Court. A few days later Andrzej Duda – the president of the country since August 2015 – signed the bill into law. The signing took place after a few weeks of a contentious constitutional crisis and despite of the domestic public outcry, large street demonstrations, concerns from the European Commission and the members of the European Parliament and international criticism. Continue reading