Category Archives: Core values

EU Digital COVID Certificate: A quid pro quo for travelling

Whilst the responses of the World Health Organization and the EU to the Covid-19 pandemic seem to be aligning, there is still uncertainty as to the facilitation of free movement not only within the EU but also internationally. In this blogpost, Raluca Nedelcu and Lucky Belder argue that governments worldwide have adopted measures without concern for their long-term impact on the global economy and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Public health measures such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate should take their impact on international relations into account and, in particular, measures adopted by governments should not create discrepancies and unfair advantages at an international level.

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The EU Commission’s report on new genome editing techniques: a treasure trove for sustainable CRISPR food – or a Pandora’s box?

Genome editing in plants can deliver beneficial crop properties such as drought and pest resistance, but the resulting products are also feared by some to lead to health and biodiversity risks in the long term. On 29th April 2021, the EU Commission published its long-awaited report on new genome editing techniques, hinting at deregulation of products resulting from genome editing amidst accusations of aggressive biotech industry lobbying. In this blogpost, Pauline Phoa discusses the legal background to the Commission’s report, as well as some concerns about the way forward.

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Origin-labelling legislation in the EU: striking the balance between free movement and consumer protection

Consumers increasingly want access to information regarding the origin of products. Buying local is en vogue, offering a sense of greater certainty as to the quality and safety of products, the hope of a lower carbon footprint and a way to support local communities. This trend, however legitimate, also provides an opportunity for States to promote their domestic production – a temptation which is only getting stronger with the current economic crisis and the need to rescue national economies. In this context, origin-labelling can be used as a tool to guide consumers towards local purchases. In this post, Vincent Delhomme shows how EU law currently prevents Member States from imposing wide ranging origin-labelling requirements on products and argues, should any reform take place, for preserving the overall spirit of this legal framework.

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Digital forensics standards: Enforcement under the radar of EU plans for electronic evidence

In the ninth post in RENFORCE Blog’s special series on enforcement, Gavin Robinson argues that the extreme volatility of electronic data calls for EU law to promote not only efficient and secure access thereto for criminal investigators, but also robust standards of digital forensics. Currently, it is national laws and criminal justice systems which achieve varying levels of forensic soundness for digital evidence. Drawing on a comparative, multidisciplinary research project and sharing insight from legal practice in Luxembourg, the post advocates a stronger emphasis on the development of common European rules on digital forensics – potentially within dedicated EU legislation on the admissibility of evidence.

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Closing the gender pay gap: time for the Member States and all stakeholders to finally put their money where their mouth is

Statistics clearly show that not a single country in the European Union has managed to establish equal pay for women and men. In this blogpost, the eighth in RENFORCE Blog’s special series on the enforcement of EU law, Linda Senden and Rian Hesdahl argue that a major reason for this lack of progress is a strong reliance on individual-rights-based enforcement, before examining whether the new directive proposed by the European Commission is likely to significantly boost the effective enforcement of the equal pay principle.

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Ecocentric values and enforcement in illegal environmental markets

The EU is an important market for illegal environmental trades – such as timber, wildlife, fish, waste, minerals and metals – which are causing serious harms to the environment worldwide. In this blogpost, the seventh in RENFORCE Blog’s special series on the enforcement of EU law, Daan van Uhm argues that ecocentric values should be embedded in both EU legislation and in EU law enforcement cultures.

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Access to justice and EU enforcement agencies in the field of migration: an emerging problem

In this post, part of a special RENFORCE Blog series on the enforcement of EU law, Salvatore Nicolosi acknowledges the potential of EU migration agencies to support Member States in enforcing EU rules, but explains how an enhanced form of EU law enforcement through agencies should not be detrimental to the legal guarantees of migrants.

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“Stuck in the middle with you”, the case for keeping illiberal Hungary and Poland within the EU (for now)

Kees Cath

Poland and Hungary’s threatening to block the EU budget because of the link between the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the rule of law, in combination with their continued undermining of the rule of law domestically has led to a debate on whether these countries should remain in the EU. In this post PhD student Kees Cath argues that working towards expulsion would not be appropriate at this point.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own point of view.

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Reflection on the GDS webinar by Sandra Wachter: ‘The (im)possibility of algorithmic fairness’

Machiko Kanetake, Lucky Belder and Karin van Es


What regulatory frameworks does the EU have to detect and rectify biased algorithms? Unfortunately, some of the celebrated legal frameworks in the EU on data protection and non-discrimination do not seem to be fit for purpose in the age of automated decision-making, as Sandra Wachter elucidated in her Utrecht University webinar on 26 January 2021 hosted by the Special Interest Group ‘Principles by Design: Towards Good Data Practice’.

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Solidarity during the Covid-19 crisis within the European Union – a legal principle or just a pivotal political aspiration?

Anne Joppe

The principle of solidarity is called upon mostly in times of crisis, as happened, for example, during the Eurozone crisis and the refugee crisis. During the current crisis as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak, the EU calls again for solidarity among the Member States to combat the pandemic. Global solidarity is mentioned also as a sort of founding value of the EU vaccines strategy.

Nevertheless, it is unclear what the principle actually entails. The situation after the Covid-19 outbreak allows to investigate whether there is indeed a legal value or notion of European solidarity that can be enforced, whilst we also see national reflexes of protecting the own citizens and market in times of crisis. The latter seems to prevail in the dispute between the EU and the UK about the AstraZeneca vaccine, for instance. Where the EU calls on a fair and ‘solidary’ distribution of the vaccines throughout Europe, the UK seems to prioritise its own programme and wants the company to favour the UK, even though that might threaten the relationship with the EU.

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