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.
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.
By Kees Cath
In this post Kees Cath argues in respect to the situation in Hungary that the European Commission should act without any delay to prevent further rule of law backsliding. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own point of view and do not represent the government’s official position.
Orbán an unlikely student of Jean Monnet?
“People only accept change when they are faced with necessity and only recognize necessity when crisis is upon them.”
Paraphrased, Jean Monnet seemed to underline the age-old adagio “never waste a good crisis”. There have been plenty of crises within the EU. Over the past few years the Union is engaged in what seems addressing one crisis after the other, from the Euro-crisis to the migration-crisis and from the Brexit-crisis to the Corona-crisis.
Yet there seems to have been one European leader – though not evidently a student of Jean Monnet – that ironically did follow this advice scrupulously, yet erroneously. The changes instituted by the Orbán government are more far reaching, and have the effect of (further) undermining the Hungarian democracy. By amongst others declaring a state of emergency, ruling by decree indefinitely – with only the Fidesz two-thirds majority in parliament to provide for a possible check or reverse – Orbán has effectively legalized his (informal) hold over the Hungarian state. Within a package of already far reaching emergency measures the high penalties for spreading ‘fake news’ stand out as particularly disheartening. Even if no journalist is (ever) sentenced, the chilling effect on an already crippled media landscape, can be further reason for alarm. With Hungary effectively in lock-down, public demonstrations against the measures, as were visible against the 2018 elections or the 2019 ‘slave law’, seem impossible. So what has happened and who has been able to respond, and if so in what way?
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
Let’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