The New Pact on Migration and Asylum: a paradigm shift in regulation and enforcement?

Salvatore Nicolosi and Paul Minderhoud

Last September 2020, the European Commission unveiled the New Pact on Migration and Asylum to commit the EU and its Member States ‘to build a system that manages and normalises migration for the long term.’ A fierce criticism has been already raised by scholars and civil society, claiming that this political platform is all but new and definitely unfit for the ‘fresh start’ sought by the Commission. In an attempt to contribute to this thriving debate, this post raises doubts on whether the Pact constitutes an effective paradigm shift in regulation and enforcement for EU asylum and migration law. As will be illustrated, the Pact reflects a regulatory framework that does not fix the existing divergences between the Member States, while at the enforcement level the approach is still precarious both as to the role of EU agencies and a strategy to ensure Member States compliance.

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Contestability in the digital sector: the Digital Markets Act vs. disruptive innovation

Lisanne Hummel

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

With the Digital Markets Act (DMA) the Commission wants to ensure a contestable digital sector, where the threat of new companies entering the sector keeps the existing firms’ market power in check. The DMA aims to increase the threat of new companies by imposing certain obligations on gatekeepers, who will most likely be the big tech companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. However, these big tech companies strongly believe that it is not regulation but innovation that has kept the digital sector contestable and will continue to do so. The question is, will the DMA make the digital sector more contestable or should we keep relying on innovation?

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DSA, DMA and ‘Access to…’

Laura Frederika Lalíková

This blogpost is part of a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Being a fan of British comedy, I’d like to quote James Veitch (who is best known for his witty interactions with the authors of scam emails): “The Internet gave us access to everything; but it also gave everything access to us.” This struck a chord with me, as I realized that the question of access has left the tables of social sciences and legal scholars and entered the likes of comedy clubs, signifying the importance of the currency of the topic of access in digital space. People understand access. They might not understand the intricacies of it, but they understand it on a fundamental level  – the value of access and the benefits which derive from it. And we should strive to protect it.

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The potential of shaping a comprehensive Digital Single Market with the long awaited Digital Single Market Act

Sybe de Vries

This blogpost is the second in a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Twenty years ago, when the widespread use of the Internet was still in its infancy, the EU legislator adopted the e-Commerce Directive. This Directive has been the foundational EU legal framework for online services in the internal market ever since. Now, with the eagerly awaited Proposal for a Regulation on a Single Market for Digital Services (DSA) the question is whether this legal instrument will be able to address the current and future digital challenges of the EU’s internal market. I will briefly discuss the relevance of the DSA’s legal basis in addressing the specific features of the Digital Single Market (DSM), particularly with a view to attain a more comprehensive DSM.

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Countering the power of big tech companies: is the bigger picture missing?

Anna Gerbrandy

This blogpost is the first in a series of short commentaries on the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act, released on 15 December 2020. Stay tuned for more.

Let me start with a heartfelt compliment: well done with the DMA&DSA! These are timely and useful proposals aiming to ‘to establish a level playing field’ and create ‘a safer digital space’. But I wonder: are we missing a bigger picture? Do the proposed rules curb the power of the Big Tech companies sufficiently?

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Disinformation: The EU Commission’s response to the Covid-19 infodemic and the feasibility of a consumer-centric solution

By Ruairi Harrison

As conversations around the globe concerning the issue of online disinformation gather gravity and frequency, it is tempting to view disinformation as a 21st century problem. Yet this phenomenon can be traced back to Octavian’s grappling for power in the turbulent post-Caesar Civil War period. Here, the first Roman Emperor manipulated information concerning his first adversary, Marcus Antonius, using brief rhetorical notes engraved on coins and circulated around Rome. These notes painted his rival as a drunk, a womaniser and a headstrong soldier incapable of ruling an empire. They ultimately proved their effectiveness in gaining the public’s support and their simple, accessible form and message could be compared to a modern day ‘Tweet’. Think Trump calling the mail-in ballot system into disrepute in a series of easy-to-read tweets devoid of evidence. 

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US sanctions against persons involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project: Europe’s energy sovereignty under threat – Part II

By Cedric Ryngaert and Tom Ruys

In our previous post, we have argued that the imposition of US sanctions on persons involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline between Russia and Germany is in tension with the customary international law of jurisdiction, insofar as such sanctions go beyond mere access restrictions and involve, for instance, the blocking (freezing) of assets. In this second post, we review the permissibility of US NS2 sanctions under two other, trade-related regimes, namely the law of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the bilateral Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaty between the US and Germany of 1954. We argue that various NS2 sanctions – including access restrictions – potentially violate US obligations under these regimes, and that, on this basis, Germany could trigger international dispute-settlement with the US. 

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US sanctions against persons involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project: Europe’s energy sovereignty under threat – Part I

By Cedric Ryngaert and Tom Ruys

The United States have recently enacted legislation sanctioning persons involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline, which will transport gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea and is central to the EU’s energy policy (see here). (Non-US) persons involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are subject to US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act, and the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Clarification Act. These sanctions are aimed at putting pressure on persons to withdraw from the NS2 project, and ultimately to scuttle it. In August 2020, things came to a head after three US senators sent a letter to a German port-operating company supporting the NS2 project. The senators warned that the port, the company and its officers exposed themselves to ‘crushing legal and economic sanctions’ by the US.

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In the name of the rule of law: ECJ further extends jurisdiction in CFSP (Bank Refah Kargaran)

By Thomas Verellen

On 8 October 2020 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rendered judgment in an appeal procedure against the General Court judgment in the case of  Bank Refah Kargaran (T‑552/15 and C-134/19 P). The case concerned an appeal, by the Iranian Refah Kargaran bank, against a number of Council decisions and regulations imposing restrictive measures (sanctions) on the Iranian bank. Some of these decisions had been adopted on the basis of Article 29 TEU, and others on the basis of Article 215 TFEU (the latter served to implement the former, as is customary in the field of restrictive measures). Bank Refah Kargaran challenged the Council’s decision inter alia on the grounds that the Council had not properly motivated its decisions. In a judgment issued on 6 September 2013, the General Court had agreed with that argument and had proceeded to annul the above decisions and regulations in so far as they concerned the Iranian bank. 

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In search for an enforcement strategy for the Common European Asylum System

By Salvatore Nicolosi

The reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is one of the major regulatory challenges to the European Union (EU), which has continuously attracted academic attention (Nicolosi, 2019). Less consideration has been given to the dynamics of enforcement of that policy. Yet, this is a crucial issue,  as acknowledged by the European Commission, the migratory pressure of the most recent years stressed the ‘structural weaknesses and shortcomings in the design and implementation of European asylum and migration policy.’ Apart from a ‘protracted implementation deficit,’ EU asylum law has been suffering from a ‘protracted compliance deficit’ (Thym, 2017). This makes the need for a more effective enforcement strategy all the more urgent. This post, therefore, aims to explain whether EU direct enforcement mechanisms can be more effective than traditional forms of enforcement by State authorities. 

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