Category Archives: Core values

EU citizenship: a slipping anchor to hold on to rights? Brexit and the consequences for EU citizens with British nationality

This summer many European citizens woke up in shock. Whilst reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, scrolling on Facebook, having breakfast, we learnt that a small majority of the voters in the Brexit referendum voted to leave the European Union. Not only does the (potential) Brexit have consequences for the internal market and the economic and social rights of EU citizens, but it also threatens their status as such. This is shocking for EU citizens with the nationality of another Member State residing in the United Kingdom, because their status will be redefined. For instance, in the future they will no longer be able to rely on equal treatment based on EU citizenship in the United Kingdom. Possibly even more shocked were British nationals, who might now actually lose their status as EU citizens, either living in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the European Union. This will significantly impact their possibilities to work, study, and take up residence in another EU Member State. Continue reading

A Right to be Forgotten Case before the Japanese Supreme Court

On 31 January, the Japanese Supreme Court, for the first time in its history, handed down a decision regarding a so-called “right to be forgotten” case. The right to be forgotten—whose development the EU helped shape—entails an individual having the right to ask that a search engine remove search results linking to a specific result about him- or herself. The Japanese Supreme Court decided in favor of the search engine giant, Google, without referring to this emerging yet still contested right to be separated from one’s past online. Noteworthy, nonetheless, is that the Japanese Supreme Court laid down certain criteria with which to mandate the removal of search results. (The decision in Japanese is available here.) 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

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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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

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

What role can or should the European or national legislator play in ensuring gender balanced company boards?

Pictogram of a woman with a tie and men, symbolic image for women's quotaEquality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the European Union. However, there is still an unequal representation of women in decision-making positions in companies throughout the EU. Even though the situation has started to improve, women remain a minority at the top of the decision-making hierarchy. On Wednesday 9 December 2015, this issue will be discussed at the seminar on Gender Balanced Company Boards in the EU at Utrecht University. Continue reading

Negotiating Cultural Rights

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 15.01.15On Friday night, 13 November 2015, the terrorist attacks in Paris took place. Attacks on big city cultural life, spending the evening with friends in concert halls, café’s and bistros, a foodball stadium.   That same night was the end of the first day of the International Conference Negotiating Cultural Rights in Copenhagen. This conference celebrated the end of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur (SR) in the field of cultural rights, Fareedah Shaheed, and the publication of eleven reports in the period 2010-2015. At the conference, we had just concluded that cultural rights had grown from the Cinderella of human rights into a beautiful princess. Today, it seems that this princess has to grow up even faster than expected, because we are in need of a Queen of Spades that stands for the protection of cultural rights. Continue reading