(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

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

Going it alone – the EU adopts its own maritime emissions monitoring scheme as the IMO lags behind

9507368339_93b407a9be_mWhile the consequences of climate change have activists up in arms, the international community’s response has been fraught with stagnation, and remains somewhat disillusioning. After a series of disappointing Conferences of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), all hopes are set on the Paris summit to be held later this year. In the midst of this stalemate, the EU has been profiling itself as a protagonist of the global climate, with an ambitious Climate and Energy Package. In its latest move, the EU has adopted Regulation (EU) No. 2015/757 (‘the Regulation’), which came into force on 01 July 2015, and lays out a monitoring, reporting and verification scheme (MRV) for ships. The MRV requires ships to monitor their CO2 emissions according to a verified monitoring plan, and report the results to the Commission. This step has been on the EU’s agenda for over five years, and forms the first concrete phase of the inclusion of maritime emissions in the Union’s own reduction commitment. While according to the EU, the scheme would bring ‘momentum for international agreement’, the shipping industry reacted coolly, warning that the EU initiative risked putting multilateral negotiations ‘in jeopardy’.

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