Systematische Beschneidung der akademischen Freiheit in Ungarn – Article in German

In der Zeitschrift Religion & Gesellschaft in Ost und West (RGOW)

The Edge of Enlightenment – The EU’s struggle with post-fascist cynicism (article on Völkerrechtsblog)

Recently, Harvard professor Steven Pinker’s book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”, which explores the effect of the Enlightenment on contemporary societies worldwide and also anti-Enlightenment movements in the West, became an international bestseller. Applying his findings about the age-old symbiotic relationship between certain elements of “Western civilization” and (post-) Fascism to certain developments both at the EU level and in individual member states, we can an uncover alarming rise in legal cynicism being applied to deal with these scenarios.

You can access the article here, on the website of Völkerrechtsblog.

I also gave a presentation about this topic on the cynical international law conference at Free University Berlin. You can download my slides here.

Book launch in Rome!

We present our book Human Rights of Asylum Seekers in Italy and Hungary – Influence of International and European Law on Domestic Action (published by G. Giappichelli & Eleven Publishing). My chapter is called EU Asylum Law: Disintegration and Negative Spillovers.

I believe this could become a very important book these days, when the human right standards we took for granted got abolished, when Hungary keeps refugees (even families) detained without food and thousands die each year in the Mediterranean Sea.

Protectionism – the side-effect of Hungarian nationalism

Back in 2012, I wrote an article for Social Europe about protectionist actions by the Hungarian government – already back then, many of us knew that the state will have to pay compensation for some of its actions. Recently, two new awards were adopted by ICSID: in the UP case, according to the judgment adopted in October 2018, the Hungarian state had to pay 23 million Euro as compensation, and in the Sodexo case decided a couple of weeks ago, the compensation was 73 million euro. As Social Europe removed my article a couple of months ago (they faced technical difficulties, so they erased old articles), please find it below (again: it’s from 2012, since that time, hundreds of similar actions happened!!).

For the cases see Sodexo Pass International SAS v. Hungary (ICSID Case No. ARB/14/20), Edenred S.A. v. Hungary (ICSID Case No. ARB/13/21) and UP and C.D Holding Internationale v. Hungary (ICSID Case No. ARB/13/35); See also Sarthak Malhotra: ICSID tribunal finds Hungary in breach of expropriation clause in France–Hungary BIT Investment Treaty News at https://www.iisd.org/itn/2018/12/21/icsid-tribunal-finds-hungary-in-breach-of-expropriation-clause-in-france-hungary-bit-sarthak-malhotra/

Hungary’s government has lately found itself in the cross hairs of critics both international and domestic. Its detractors point to two major issues. First is the barrage of potentially anti-democratic and positively useless laws that have been adopted over a single year, including a new constitution, media law, acts affecting the judicial and electoral systems, governance of the national bank and more – three hundred laws so far. A consequence of this torrent of legislation is that several EU regulations have been violated. As a result, the European Commission has instigated proceedings against Hungary for infringements of EU law on three counts. Secondly, due to the economic crisis and the bad and unimaginative economic policies of the present and earlier governments in Budapest, fiscal policy has become subject to harsh criticism. Due to a chronic structural budget deficit, EU cohesion funds allocated to Hungary have now been suspended – a measure that will be reviewed in June. The government has tried to counter scathing international opinion with nationalistic, arrogant statements as part of an aggressive campaign against the EU and the IMF. The prime minister, Viktor Orbán has accused the EU of imperialism, of double standards hurting Hungary, and directly compared its methods to those of the communist regime and the Soviet Union.

However, besides fears for democracy and worries over economic problems, there is a third issue regarding Hungary which has been overlooked by the media – the conflict between the founding principles of the common European market and nationalistic protectionism: recently, free movement of goods into Hungary, the free establishment of companies and guaranteeing fair competition all seem to have been impaired. Over a year ago, the current Italian PM Mario Monti, former EU Commissioner and also a professor of economics (former Rector of Bocconi University) wrote a report for Commission President José Manuel Barroso concerning the effect of the financial crisis on the European Economic Area.[1] The report warned that the effects of ill-conceived fiscal policies together with the economic crisis could cause nationalistic governments to adopt a protectionist, “market defending” attitude that would contravene the fundamental rules of the EU.

That is exactly what seems to be happening in Hungary today. Stemming from the current nationalistic agenda, some of the recent legislation adversely affects the internal market, especially the free movement of goods, services and capital. The notion of protectionism in politics is not new in the country. Its governments of recent times, both left and right wing, have always attempted to propagandize the sale of Hungarian goods and to shore up the interests of domestic companies – a respectable aim when kept within certain limits. One motive for this was the lack of Hungarian economics to produce several types of valuable goods that could be distributed throughout Europe or even worldwide. Another cause was the lack of thinking internationally – while the European market of 500 million people certainly is a great historical achievement, utilising is yet to be learnt. Therefore, the government’s aim was to increase domestic consumption of Hungarian goods, especially foodstuffs and agricultural produce, which are major a major part of the country’s output. The fallacy of favouring a market of 10 million instead of a one of 500 million was never highlighted.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) stresses that the Union shall comprise a customs union that shall cover all trade in goods.[2] Moreover, all discriminating taxes or quantitative restrictions on imports or exports and measures having equivalent effect shall be prohibited among member states.[3] In practice, this means that there is generally no room for discrimination between goods in the EU, irrespective of their origin. For example, if a company imports German beer into Hungary, it can be sold under the same conditions as Hungarian beer. These provisions have been unchanged for 40 years – ever since the free movement of goods between member states was established at the end of the sixties. The fundamental principles have been tested in numerous cases before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). They are taught all over Europe, including Hungary. One of the earliest rulings of the ECJ was in the “Buy Irish” case.[4] There, the ECJ decided that no member state had the right to advertise domestic products by declaring that “by organizing a campaign to promote the sale and purchase of Irish products within its territory, Ireland has failed to fulfil its European obligations” (at the time, under the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community). While the ruling applies equally to organizations or associations funded by government, in another case,[5] the ECJ later ruled that the provisions of European law do not prevent such a body from drawing attention to the specific qualities of fruit produced within the member state. Yet it would still be clearly contrary to European law to discourage the purchase of products from other member states, as well as to disparage those products in the eyes of consumers, or to advise consumers to purchase domestic products solely by reason of their national origin.[6] Then in 1986, a Commission Communication was published as a guideline, which reemphasized and interpreted these rules.[7] The Communication laid down that an identification of the producing country by word or symbol may be made providing that a reasonable balance between references to the qualities and its national origin is kept.

With respect to the free movement of goods, there is no possibility available to discriminate foreign companies or the Hungarian subsidiaries, branches or agencies of foreign companies.[8] Moreover, any discrimination based on nationality shall be prohibited.[9]

The first Hungarian legislative efforts clearly conflicting with European rules were made by the left wing government that ran the country until 2010. Surprisingly, only five years after Hungary’s accession to the European Union, they wanted to adopt a law which would have forced shops and supermarkets in Hungary to sell at least 80% Hungarian. The law would have benefitted Hungarian producers, since agriculture and the food industry is traditionally strong in the country. However, it is obvious that the law would have caused a serious violation of the rules of the internal market – and especially of the provisions concerning the free movement of goods.[10] After realizing that passing such an act would have been contrary to EU law, the government pushed some of the representative organizations[11] of domestic food producing and vending companies into signing a so-called “Code of Ethics on the Food Production Chain” (“the Code”). The Code, which, legally speaking was “just” an agreement, contained similarly discriminatory provisions to the previously proposed legislation and its approach was also contrary to EU law, especially EU competition policy. In fact, it was also partially in conflict with Hungarian competition law. Consequently, the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) started an investigation into the case. After realizing that the signed Code had never entered into force and that the representative organizations did not have authority from their member companies to bind them to such an arrangement, the Competition Authority subsequently closed the case and ceased the investigation.[12] The second of such attempts, another damp squib, had failed.

And here we are in 2012, witnessing the third similar attempt. Recently, the nationalistic right wing government adopted a law that tries to discriminate against foreign companies and force the consumption of Hungarian-produced food in a new, crafty way. The government (or, to be more precise, a ministry) adopted a law (decree),[13] creating the so-called “Erzsébet voucher” (Erzsébet utalvány – “Voucher”). Previously, three major multinational firms were issuing the bulk of such food vouchers (Sodexo, Chèque Déjeuner and Edenred). The vouchers could be given to employees as a tax-free benefit – now only the state voucher can be given this way, wile the tax after the other three vouchers is 51%. The new voucher (bizarrely named after a saint of Hungary, Saint Elisabeth) is issued by a single governmental entity, the so-called Hungarian National Recreation Foundation (Magyar Nemzeti Üdülési Alapítvány).

 


An Erzsébet voucher to the value of HUF 500

The voucher’s introduction served two main purposes. First of all, the international firms former dealing with the distribution of such vouchers may well be pushed out of the Hungarian market. Government offices and state universities have started to end contracts with them in favour of using the new, state sponsored vouchers. Secondly – and this is a very crude violation of Hungary’s obligations – when launched, the new vouchers could only be used at three supermarket chains, all under sole Hungarian ownership: CBA, Coop and Reál. No foreign-owned chains such as Tesco, Lidl and Spar were allowed to accept the vouchers. Only after the European Commission started its investigation into violations of EU law, was one additional supermarket, Tesco also included in the voucher scheme, starting 15 April 2012. Therefore, barring future changes, there are only three Hungarian chains and a single foreign one approved by the issuing authority to accept the vouchers, with all other supermarkets excluded. According to the latest news, these new vouchers are also planned to be used by the state in place of cash for issuing social and family benefits – the details of these rules are so far unclear. This voucher system in its present – and likely future – state clearly violates Art. 56 of the TFEU, which states that restrictions on the freedom to provide services within the Union shall be prohibited in respect of nationals of Member States. Moreover, there may also be an effect on the freedom of establishment since the activities of foreign companies are being limited by current rules. The European Commission has warned the ministries responsible in Hungary that if the voucher scheme is not changed, it will start further proceedings against the country for infringement of EU law. Moreover, there exist another, less important discriminating type of the vouchers. Latter is called SZÉP kártya (SZÉP Card), and is used as a voucher for holiday purposes – to pay at hotels, bathes, etc. However, it can not be used at branches of foreign companies. EU law and the expectation of cooperation with other countries aside, the regime may well remind us of communist era and its food stamp system. Back then, people received food stamps instead of money to buy groceries. That time round, history proved that such thinking is incapable of survival – but to reach the very bottom takes a long time, sometimes decades.

Besides the free movement of goods and services there are numerous other legal measures which are being debated, and which may have a debasing effect on the free market – regardless of whether or not they are found legal. For example, the Hungarian state is in the process of establishing a Hungarian state-owned mobile telecommunications company.[14] According to officials, this is necessary because government branches and municipalities are not satisfied with the quality of mobile telecoms services provided by the existing three providers Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telenor – a hilarious argument by any standards. We expect that central and municipal bodies of government and state agencies will be “recommended” to choose the services of the new state company instead of the present ones.

Moreover, in one of the latest scandals, several Hungarian right wing newspapers have received money directly from municipalities and state agencies – essentially, money from taxpayers, while a privately owned research institute called Századvég has received funds from the government amount to an enormous €10 million. Századvég is close to the governing party Fidesz, with its former president István Stumpf – currently a judge in the Constitutional Court of Hungary – who has previously served as chief of staff at the prime minister’s office.

In addition to the above, in order to gain funds to survive fiscally, this government has nationalized the private pension system. As a result of dire state of the economy and a feeling of hopes lost, younger people with marketable skills are fleeing Hungary en masse – this is particularly visible in the case of low paid medics. The government’s answer is to make students who did not themselves pay for their studies to pay tuition if they leave the country after graduation. This approach is – in our opinion – not contrary to EU law, provided that an agreement including these conditions is concluded when a student commences studies, as it is now being done. However, in many instances foreign students have to pay a tuition fee, even when local students do not have to pay, which may well violate European law. In the EU, students from an EU country should have the same rights and obligations as local students, a point reiterated by the ECJ.[15]

Talking about the free movement of people: in our opinion the banning of Hungary’s former president, Mr László Sólyom from entering the Slovak Republic in 2009 was also a great mistake in the region irrespective of the opinion of the Advocate General and the factual and legal background.[16] It is surely wrong for one EU member state’s president to be denied into another just because this was believed to score popularity points in national politics.

In closing, we can be certain that nationalism has a very strong effect on the internal market, and it can be costly for all of us in Europe. The fuzziness of democracy in Hungary, which infringes the rights of domestic citizens goes hand in hand with the lost profits of foreign companies. The only strategy that can lead Hungary and other EU “newcomers” forward is that of co-operation.

Co-operation is needed by domestic companies and individuals to be able to produce more marketable goods. Government projects are necessary to boost such business activities. The system of the EU was built to be favourable to those states which are able to conduct business worldwide. In the wake of the economic crisis, we believe that the problem is not with the private sector but the public one. The response of governments all over has been similar: austerity measures. However, this cannot be their strategy forever: we have seen governments in Hungary use this corrective method repeatedly since the return to democracy in 1990. The stimulation of growth in business, which would bring with it increased tax receipts, was not a favoured measure. Prolonged austerity may lead to a negative spiral with cuts leading to poorer public services but public funds that are still lacking. If cutting expenses is a must, this should be done alongside measures and packages designed to stimulate growth.

Co-operation with foreign investors is also a necessity: capital is visibly flowing out of Hungary. For foreign entities to invest, a stable and constructive tax system and carefully considered economic policies are required – which of course also means that domestic cliques are relegated to the background and politicians do not play games with the national currency and send shock waves through the business world every other day with news of new taxes and bizarre announcements.

Finally, Hungary needs better connections with foreign business actors. This may sound odd, but one of the keys would be education, where the government has recently made sweeping reforms, without any attempt to Europeanise the education system – the changes only served fiscal purposes. In fact, we need more foreign language programs and more educated, mature people who are able to see the world outside their home country. PM Monti was right: isolationism is not the answer to our problems. We have seen several mid-sized European countries left at the sidelines for decades because a selfish and narrow-minded political elite, kept in power by a population lacking productivity together set back economic growth. It’s 2012, not the middle ages: the days when we could live by ourselves are gone and hopefully will never return again.

[1] A New Strategy For the Single Market at the Service of Europe’s Economy and Society, Report to the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso by Mario Monti. http://ec.europa.eu/bepa/pdf/monti_report_final_10_05_2010_en.pdf

[2] See Art. 28 TFEU. Cf. Paul Craig & Grainne de Búrca: EU LAW, 2008 637 et seq.

[3] See Art. 34-35 thereof.

[4] Case 249/81. Judgment of the Court of 24 November 1982. Commission of the European Communities v Ireland. European Court Reports 1982 Page 04005. Cf. Consensus au sein des partis politique sur la question du «made inFrance». Le Monde, 5 April 2012.

[5] Case 222/82. Judgment of the Court of 13 December 1983. Apple and Pear Development Council v K.J. Lewis Ltd and others. European Court reports 1983 Page 04083.

[6] See Art. 1B of the Operative part of the judgement thereof.

[7] Commission communication concerning State involvement in the promotion of agricultural and fisheries products. Official Journal C 272, 28/10/1986 P. 0003 – 0005.

[8] See Art 49 TFEU.

[9] See Art 12 and 61 thereof.

[10] Hungarian Government Declares War on Foreign Food. http://www.chew.hu/hungarian_government_declares/

[11] The organizations were the Hungarian Association of Agricultural Allies and Producers, Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture, Association of Food Processors, Product Council of Milk and Diary Products. Hungarian Organisation and Product Council of Vegetables and Fruits, Professional Organisation and Product Council of Fat Stock and Meat, Product Council of Poultry, Hungarian Trade Association, Hungarian Association of Everyday Consumption Co-ops and Trade Associations.

[12] No Food Production Chain Code, No Proceedings, GVH, http://www.gvh.hu/gvh/alpha?do=2&st=2&pg=133&m5_doc=5993

[13] Decree No. 39 of 2011 of the Minister Responsible for Public Governance and Justice on the issuing of the Erzsébet voucher.

[14] See Hungarian State Group Wins Mobile Phone Licence. Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/hungary-mobile-idUSL5E8CV2IB20120131

[15] Case C-147/03. Commission of the European Communities v Republic of Austria. European Court reports 2005 Page I-05969. As a consequence, Austrian universities had to admit a large number of German medical students, who were not admitted in Germany to universities.

[16] See Case C-364/10. Advocate General’s Opinion – 6 March 2012. Hungary v Slovakia.

 

 

New article about academic freedom in the EU

This article focuses on the EU’s role in setting the framework for higher education in Europe. The topic has special relevance, as major changes have been made in the sector in certain member states, like Hungary and Poland, and some of these changes are connected with the rule-of-law backsliding in these countries. The paper argues that the European Union should develop a list of fundamental rights that it wants to enforce in higher education among the member states and that this procedure has already started in certain instances. On the other hand, as it has linked higher education to single-market regulations, it cannot proceed concerning the issues that do not have a connection with the market. This inactivity could create ambivalence in judging the same or similar questions and has the potential to create discriminative situations. The article claims that, unlike common presumptions, the EU could find itself competent to act if it would interpret rights in higher education from a fundamental rights perspective instead of solely protecting market rationality.

Ziegler, Tamas Dezso, ‘Academic Freedom in the European Union – Why the Single European Market is a Bad Reference Point’. Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper No. 2019-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317406

New article in Yearbook of Private International Law (with Sarolta Szabo and Vanda Vadasz)

“One of the truly first codifications of the latter is offered by the new Hungarian Private International Law Act, that we are pleased to present in our National Reports Section. The contribution provides the non-Hungarian reader with the background, principles and theoretical approach adopted by the Hungarian legislator in the most recent methodical reform of a national system of private international law.”

Tamas Dezso Ziegler, Vanda Vadasz, Sarolta Szabó: The New Hungarian Private International Law Code – A Mixture of Modern and Traditional Solutions. In: YEARBOOK OF PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW 2017/2018 (Ed. Andrea Bonomi, Gian Paolo Romani, Swiss Institute of Comparative Law). Verlag Otto Schmidt/Sellier European Law Publishers, 2018, 333-364.

The content of the Yearbook is available here.

The foreword is available here.

An electronic version of the Yearbook is available at De Gruyter here.

Article + interview

We wrote together with colleagues an article (in Hungarian) for a mainstream Hungarian weekly on the nature of the Hungarian electoral autocracy (Majtényi Balázs, Unger Anna, Ziegler Dezső Tamás: Egyszerűen senkik vagytok – a választási autokráciáról).

The article is available here.

Later, I also gave an interview (in Hungarian) for this weekly about the new laws on refugees in Hungary, the fascistoid hate-speech campaign of the Hungarian government and the lack of proper answers to the refugee crisis by the EU and its member states.

The interview is available here.

Sometimes it seems it has some sense to write articles about populism

After my last short article was published on Social Europe, I received many encouraging emails, which made me really happy, especially since I represent a minority opinion (thanks to you all!).

Moreover, Professor Simon Wren-Lewis from Oxford University wrote about it on his Mainly Macro blog (‘The two types of populism within Brexit’, the entry can be accessed here).

I also received several articles written by Anton Jäger from Cambridge University. One of them (The Myth of “Populism”) is accessible on Jacobin Magazine hereWhy this piece is interesting to me is because it shows the misunderstandings regarding the roots of American populism, and as such, populism in general.

I also intend to write another article about euroscepticism (it will be called ‘Critisizing the EU – the post fascist, the demagogue, and the proactive way’), as I would like to make it clear that I do not consider every kind of criticism post-fascism, only if such criticism is mixed with racism, overtly nationalism and authoritarianism.

As it seems right now I will also speak on a workshop at Central European University next week about the same topic.

New article – The Populist Hoax (Getting The Far Right And Post-Fascism Wrong)

When political parties are chauvinistic, racist, paranoid, anti-elitist, macho-ist, use emotions to attack minorities, create scapegoats, we cannot say that this is the normal course of democracy.


The article can be accessed here or by clicking on the image above.

New article w/ Balazs Horvathy: Europeanization of the Hungarian Legal Order: From Convergence to Cancellation?

Reviewing European Union Accession

Unexpected Results, Spillover Effects, and Externalities

Tom Hashimoto and Michael Rhimes

Book Review – Democratizing Central and Eastern Europe

I wrote a book review about a book on the democratisation efforts of the EU in Eastern Europe (about Luca Tomini’s Democratizing Central and Eastern Europe – Successes and Failures of the European Union. 2015. Routledge).

The book is an interesting attempt to summarize the actions of governments in certain countries of the region. It presents an analysis to the reader about the major changes of governance in some Eastern European countries (like Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia). This analysis can be very useful for readers who do not know too much about these countries, and want to have a basic sketch.

The review can be accessed here, or by clicking on the image above.

 

Report on barriers of EU citizens’ free movement is out now.

I participated in the works of a report for the bEUcitizen fp7 project (the website of the project is available here),  which was basically a project focusing on the possible barriers EU citizens have to face when moving to another country. Why I liked this project was that it tried to give answers to the actual problems of free movement within the EU, i.e. it tried to focus on barriers and how EU citizen’s life could be helped. As a result, there are some nice reports published which addressed real life problems, many of which are related to administrative procedures or private international law/private international procedural law isues.

I created the country report about Hungarian law in a longer report. Just like the other parts of the work, this chapter focused on many important and interesting questions like family relations in Hungary,  the right to register a name, rules on obtaining citizenship, problems occuring of double citizenships, domestic rules of family unification and their connection to EU law, status of registered partners, some issues of the public register and acceptance of foreign judgments and public documents. The report is available here (for my part see page 220 et seq) or by clicking on the image below.

Hungary and the EU – a collection of articles

I wrote quite a lot of articles about the conflict between Hungary and the EU in the last 5-6 years.  I also know some articles written by colleagues which can be interesting for scholars worldwide, so I decided to make a collection of them (please find them below).

 

  • Balázs Horváthy, Tamas Dezso Ziegler: Europeanisation Of The Hungarian Legal Order – From Convergence To Divergence. In: REVIEWING THE 10 YEARS OF CEE ACCESSION: SPILLOVER EFFECTS, UNEXPECTED RESULTS, AND EXTERNALITIES. (Hrsg. William B. Simons & Tom Hashimoto). Brill, Leiden-Boston. (soon to get published)
  • The Links Between Human Rights and the Single European Market – Discrimination and Systemic Infringement. Comparative Law Review, Vol 7, 2016 No 1 1-23. available here.
  • When The European Moral Vacuum Meets The Hungarian Autocratic Regime. SOCIAL EUROPE – Occasional paper, 2014 October, available hereAn extended version of this article (which also includes some references), published on Open Democracy,  can be accessed here.
  • Protectionism – A Side Effect of Hungarian Nationalism. SOCIAL EUROPE, available here.
  • In Defence of Today’s Anti-Fascist Protesters. OPEN DEMOCRACY, available here.
  • An introduction into Hungarian national thinking about history and comparison to the UK national thinking: together w/ Izolda Takacs: Myth of History, Euro-scepticism and Fundamental Rights) written for OPENDEMOCRACY, available here.

I also wrote a series of blog entries for London School of Economics – EUROPP back in 2012, when anti-democratic legislation started to flourish in Hungary:

  • The Anti-Democratic Tendencies Now Prominent In Some Parts Of Eastern Europe May Soon Become An Even Bigger Headache For The EU Than The Eurozone Crisis, available here
  • w/ Izolda Takacs: Hungary is Sleepwalking Into an Authoritarian state. But the European Union Is Limited In the Pressure It Is Able To Exert, available here.
  • w/ Izolda Takacs: With the Ruling Party’s Legislative Tsunami, Hungary May Now Be Sleepwalking Into An Authoritarian State, available here.
  • w/ Izolda Takacs: Hungary is Now a Distorted Democracy, available here.

Some other works of my colleagues can also be of interest for you. Please note these are only a handful of articles which I came across in the last months/years, but they contain some really interesting information:

  • Veronika Czina: Member State Particularism within the EU: an Analysis Based on the Most Recent Developments of the “Hungarian affair” UACES Conference Paper, available here.
  • The website of the `Lendulet Research Group on EU law` also contains a great amount of interesting materials including reports and articles. It can be accessed here.
  • A nice and really detailed report on single market and Hungary (called ‘The Legal and Regulatory Environment for Economic Activity in Hungary: Market Access and Level Playing-field in the Single Market’) can be accessed here.
  • A nice collection of articles on the change of the general constitutional framework in Hungary published in the journal Südost-Europa (Hungary’s Path Towards an Illiberal System Volume 63 no. 2 2015): the content and introduction is  available here.
  • It can be worth to read the chapter of Balazs Majtenyi (pp. 51-74) on the constitutional changes in Hungary (The EU and the Hungarioan National Cooperatrion System) in an FP7 report called `EU Human rights, democracy and rule of law: from concepts to practice`  (available here).
  • Balazs Majtenyi: Legislative Stupidities in the New Hungarian Constitution originally published in Rivista Pace Diritti Umani (Peace, Human Rights) is available here
  • Balazs Majtenyi: A Game of Values: Particular National Identities Awaken in Europe, published on Verfassungsblog, available here.
  • Gabor Halmai: An Illiberal Constitutional System in the Middle of Europe, published in European Yearbook of Human Rights, can be accessed here.
  • Kim Lane Scheppele wrote a huge amount of articles on the constitutional changes in Hungary, see the Princeton’s repository here.
  • Bojan Bugarič: Protecting Democracy and the Rule of Law in the European Union: The Hungarian Challenge. LSE discussion paper, available here. 
  • Boldizsar Nagy: Parallel realities: refugees seeking asylum in Europe and Hungary’s reaction (EU Migration Law Blog),  available here.
  • Boldizsar`s article `Hungarian Asylum Law and Policy in 2015–2016: Securitization Instead of Loyal Cooperation`published in German Law Journal can be accessed here.
  • Gabor Halmai: The Invalid Anti-Migrant Referendum in Hungary, published on verfassungsblog, available here.
  • Cass Mudde and Erin K. Jenne: Hungary’s Illiberal Turn: Can Outsiders Help? available here.

The Role of Human Rights in EU-US bilateral Relations

Created a part of a report on the European Union’s external relations. This report aims to analyse the different dimensions and levels of EU-US relations, to survey the instruments the EU uses in this relation and to provide some recommendations for future EU actions. It provides an overview of the main similarities and differences between the EU and the US regarding human rights, and measures the influence of the EU on the state and practice of human rights in the United States. Likewise, it analyses how the United States may affect human rights in the EU and its Member States, notably in light of US policies that are strongly criticised by the EU from a human rights-based perspective. To conduct this analysis, we selected three case-studies: 1) capital punishment 2) data protection and surveillance programmes and 3) the problem of extraordinary rendition.

The report can be accessed here on by clicking on the image above.

New article – TTIP and Its Public Criticism: Anti-Globalist Populism Versus Valid Dangers



The provisions of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the major trade agreement between the EU and the US received serious criticism from the public, some NGOs and even some scholars. Disputes surrounding many of its special provisions got highly emotional, with extreme commentaries in the media. There is a high chance the conclusion of the deal will be blocked because of public opposition. This article tries to analyse four of the most important questions, namely the transparency of negotiations, the issue of investor-state dispute settlement, and the agreement’s effects on environment-sustainable development and regulatory issues/consumer standards. Based on the analysis, it concludes that even though TTIP may contain some serious pitfalls, there is a high chance it would not lead to the devastating results as is regularly portrayed, and most of the problematic points could be settled relatively easily.

You can access the article here or by clicking of the image above. 

Published a new article on populsim, human rights and the single European market in Hungary

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THE LINKS BETWEEN HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE SINGLE EUROPEAN MARKET: DISCRIMINATION AND SYSTEMIC INFRINGEMENT

ABSTRACT

The aim of this article is to prove that the legal system of an EU member state in which weakening of democratic rights and distortion of the constitutional system of checks and balances takes place also hurts the frameworks of the single market. The best example for this situation can be seen in Hungary nowadays. The connection between constitutional principles and single market regulations is not as obvious as it seems. Many would claim that multinational companies do not need basic rights to perform well. However, this is not true. Anti-democratic developments create a framework that not only results in institutional, legal and sociological changes, but also hurts free competition leading to a loss in profit. There is a great chance that a country rife with breaches of fundamental rights will, as a spill-over effect, also face a large number of single market regulation breaches. 

 

The article can be accessed by clicking here or on the image above.

What Happens After Brexit? Some Thoughts

How should life be after Brexit? Even though the academic and intellectual communities, just like the public, got highly emotional after the Brexit referendum, we assume that it can serve as the start of something new and functioning both for the UK and the EU. Here are some pointers for the future already visible.

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Wrote an article about Brexit for Social Europe Journal together with Anna Unger. The article can be accessed here or by clicking on the image above.

 

 

 

ROSSZ VÁLASZOK A MENEKÜLTKÉRDÉSRE: A SZÉLSŐJOBBOLDALI KORMÁNYZAT TALÁLKOZÁSA AZ EURÓPAI ANÓMIÁVAL

ROSZKE, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 11: A migrant finds a new pair of boots amongst the debris left on the ground after migrants move on from a holding area at the Hungarian border with Serbia on September 11, 2015 in Roszke, Hungary. Migrants are rushing to the border due to fears and rumours that the borders will soon close. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called 'Balkans route' has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The number of people leaving their homes in war torn countries such as Syria, marks the largest migration of people since World War II. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Fotó: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)


Hozzávetőleg 4-5 hónapja írtam egy cikket, melyet megpróbáltam több helyen megjelentetni, sikertelenül. Az írásban kifejtettem azon véleményemet, mely szerint nem csoda, ha a magyar kormányzat rasszista módon viszonyul a menekültekhez, hiszen amúgy is szélsőjobboldali értékrendje van, mely kihatott az alkotmányos rendszer szétverésére, a választások súlyos manipulálására, a fékek-egyensúlyok rendszerének bedöntésére, antiszemita közírók díjazására, iskolai szegregációra,  az oktatási rendszer megnyomorítására, és nap mint nap támadja a független gondolkodás intézményeit. A munkát egy lap sem hozta le (persze, a terjedelmi korlátok miatt a megcélzott lapok köre is szűkebb).
Ennek megfelelően, végső megoldásként, a cikket itt, a blogomon teszem közé.

Ma Magyarországon egy sajátságos “barbár lázadás”, egyfajta ellen-felvilágosodás zajlik. Az, hogy az őszinte és karakteres véleményeket elhallgatják, hogy a sem a napi sajtóban, sem a tudomány világában nem közlik nyíltan, hogy egy szélsőséges, szélsőjobboldali erő irányítja az országot, mely bárhol Európában a politikai spektrumban izoláltan működne, nagy hiba, és jómagam a magát demokratának és liberálisnak/baloldalinak gondoló értelmiség sajátságos öncenzúrájának gondolom (bár azt is láthattuk, ezen értelmiség egy része örömmel igazodik a rasszista és antidemokratikus megoldásokhoz, ahogyan ellenzéki pártjai sem képeznek valódi ellenzéket, hanem inkább a rendszer házi ellenzékét alkotják, és ugyanez igaz a média jelentős részére is). Ez kihat arra is, hogy a menekültkérdésre vonatkozó konstruktív javaslat (így például a szíriai, vagy az iraki helyzet rendezése) nem merül fel, mintha két opció lenne: mindenkit Európába hozni a háborús térségekből, vagy mindenkit kizárni. Különösen komikus helyzeteket eredményez ez tudományos berkekben, ahol úgy “táncoljuk körbe” a problémákat, hogy a tényeket nem mondjuk ki (“ne címkézzünk”, mondják: ne mondjuk ki, hogy valami szélsőséges, akkor sem, ha elég egyértelmű a minősítés). Ráadásul a humánumot kiszorította valamifajta vélt “igazság” követése, és újfent magyarázni kell, mitől rasszista egy kijelentés. Újra el kell magyarázni, ha egy kisebbségre általánosságokat fogadok el, megvonván tőlük az individualitáshoz való jogukat, az miért káros.

A munka nem tartalmazza a legújabb EU-Törökország megállapodás elemzését, melyről önálló cikket szeretnék írni. Utóbbi megállapodást egyébként nemzetközi és európai jogba ütközőnek tartom, amellett, hogy a nemzetközi egyezményi jellege is kérdéses számomra, ugyanis nem így szokás elfogadni egyezményeket az Európai Unióban.


Az esszé innen tölthető le.

Right-wing populism, far right, fascism

Published an article in OpenDemocracy on the connection between new populists like Trump, Putin, Orban, Erdogan and fascism. Tried to overview the most important theories on fascism for non-experts. My statement is that most of these politicians are dangerous to democracy and most of them represent an anti-enlightment attitude. In the future, I intend to mix this area with my original, EU related researches, and especially singe market rules. I would like to do some researches on economic policies in the twenties and thirties, because I have a sense of feeling present anti-market politics have deep roots in our societies, especially in Eastern Europe.

You can reach the article by clicking here or on the picture below.

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Fidesz, fasizmus, szélsőjobb / The governing party (Fidesz), fascism, far right politics

A fenti témáról egyrészt megjelent egy írásom a Magyar Narancsban, másrészt Kovács M. Máriával és Friderikusz Sándorral beszélgettünk az ATV-n. Alább elérhető mindkettő:

I published an article in the weekly newspaper Magyar Narancs on the connection between far right ideology and the present government, and also attended a TV interview with Maria M. Kovacs from Central European University on the same topic (both were held/written in Hungarian). 

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New articles published

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Published a new article on constitutional rights and the free market in Hungary (in Hungarian, available here) in Állam- és Jogtudomány.

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Also published another article in Acta Juridica Hungarica (Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies, available here). This article summarizes the background of child abduction cases related to Hungary, giving a comprehensive analysis of such cases between the period of 2000 and 2014. In the first section, the reader finds a statistical analysis and the second part deals with the legal and practical background. The final conclusions give some recommendations for the European and domestic legislators. The essay was created as part of a report published by the European Parliament, collected by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law on the actual situation of child abduction in Europe.

Report on child abduction

 

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Created a part of a report on cross-border child abduction in the European Union for the European Parliament’s LIBE Committe. The other parts were written by different scholars, a major part was created by lawyers of the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law. The report can be accessed here or by clicking on the image above.

Started to work in the FRAME FP7 project

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FRAME is a large-scale, collaborative research project funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) coordinated by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and conducted by 19 research institutes from around the world. Our research focuses on the contribution of the EU’s internal and external policies to the promotion of human rights worldwide.

Our job will be to create a report on US-EU relations in the field of human rights. The website of the project can be reached here.

Soon to get published…

I’m expecting several more scientific articles to get published in a couple a months:

  • created a report fot the European Parliament on child abduction in Hungary, with special regard to private international law rules and the application of the 1980 Hague Convention – the report will be published on the website of the Parliament
  • an article on the myths of consumer protecion in the EU in Hungarian Yearbook of International and European Law
  • another article on the change of Hungary’s attitude towards the European Union (will be published in a book on Eastern-European states by Brill in Boston).

Furthermore, right now I am working on a piece on the commercial law relationship between the Hungarian illiberal state and the free European market.

 

New article – When The European Moral Vacuum Meets The Hungarian Autocratic Regime

Hungary is obviously moving towards autocracy. But we have to ask ourselves two questions. Would it be useful for the EU to introduce measures against a country with democratic problems? Secondly, is Europe in the moral, political and economic state to be able to act? Both questions require thorough deliberation. 

The article can be reached here, or by clicking on the images below.

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A Hungarian language version of the article was created by Budapest Beacon (Mikor az európai morális vákum talűlkozik a magyar önkényuralmi rendszerrel), which can be reached here or by clicking below.

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Was cited in an interesting article on cyberspace

Enjoyed reading it (even though, in the European Union, the essence of an e-commerce contract is NOT the concept of characteristic performance as it can be found in the Rome Convention, but the solution which can be found in Art 3-4-6 Rome I regulation).

However, it still is a nice piece to read.

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You can download the article here or by clicking on the picture.

Two new articles published – Yearbook of Private International Law & Külgazdaság

Recently, I published two new articles.

The first one, published in the Yearbook of Private International Law summarizes the different conflicting private international law provisions of the EU. It classifies the rules by making several subgroups in order to understand the attributes of different regulations/directives. In fact, it is similar to my former works, but instead of only finding the provisions, it tries to make groups and make some statements based on the findings.

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For the table of contents, please click here.

You can find the article on ssrn here.

The second onepublished in the Hungarian journal Külgazdaság, was written in Hungarian together with Katalin Raffai from Pázmány Péter Catholic University (I am really happy to have a common article with her).  This is its abstract:

“Several new laws which deal with the international aspects of family law issues have been adopted in the European Union in the recent years. According to the statements of the European institutions, these rules are important in order to strengthen the background of the free movement of EU citizens. Numerous problems had to be solved, like the question of the law applicable in case of a divorce proceeding or the procedure of maintenance payments. The article summarizes the provisions of the most important legal sources, with special regard to the private international law aspects of such cases. Furthermore, it also deals with the basic differences between the related domestic substantive family law regimes.”

In Hungarian:

“Az Európai Unióban az elmúlt években több olyan jogszabály is elfogadásra került, amely családjogi kérdésekkel foglalkozik. E normák megalkotására a belső piac logikája miatt, az uniós polgárok szabad mozgásának biztosítása végett volt szükség. A szabad mozgás folyományaképpen rendezni kellett számos kérdést, így például, hogy a házasság felbontására milyen jogot alkalmazzanak, vagy a tartásdíjakat milyen keretek között kelljen fizetni. E szabályok nemzetközi magánjogi (más néven: nemzetközi kollíziós) normák, azaz azt határoznák meg, milyen eljárási rendben kell végrehajtani és végrehajtatni a tagállami anyagi jogi családjogi szabályokat, illetve részletesen leírják, mely állam jogát alapul véve kell eljárni. Az írás kimondottan az alkalmazandó jog megállapításával foglalkozik, ám röviden kitér az anyagi jogi háttérszabályokra is.”

You can find the article on my  SSRN profile here.

New paper published in Comparative Law Review

E-Consumer Protection In the Us – The Same Jungle As In Europe

With the use of the Internet, a new form of contract has appeared: the electronic contract, which is concluded online. In most cases, two parties are present: a consumer, who is in a relatively exposed position and a business entity. This article focuses on the protections given to consumers in the US in these cases – i.e. electronic consumer law in the US – at both federal and state level (with special regard to New York state). Principal questions are the following: do consumers in the US receive the same protections as consumers in Europe when purchasing goods online? When we buy goods from the US here in Europe through the Internet and have them shipped over, do we receive the same protections as in Europe? And what options exist for protecting ourselves? What are the rules and remedies that help us? Last, but not least: what can we learn from the US system, if anything? Summarising substantive US provisions that may be relevant for Europe is also beneficial with an eye to putting continuously evolving European directive law into a broader perspective.

The paper can be downloaded here.

New article in Global Jurist: The Quest to Find a Law Applicable to Contracts in the European Union – A Summary of Fragmented Provisions

In the European Union Regulation No. 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the law applicable to contractual obligations (the so called Rome I regulation) governs which law to apply to contracts containing international elements. With the continuing internalization of business activities, such rules have elementary importance. However, beside the unified rules of the regulation, numerous EU rules exist, which also have relevance. This is because of a provision in Rome I, which states that the regulation shall not prejudice the application or adoption of rules of the institutions of the EU which lay down rules concerning particular areas of contractual law. As an effect, several rules exist which override the provisions of Rome I. Thus, the present system of rules is fragmented, which may cause serious malfunctions in the legal practice. Most of these provisions can be found in consumer law directives, but other fields like employment law may also be of relevance. The article tries to collect these „hidden” provisions and analyse their effect on the Hungarian legal regime.

The article can be found here.

New article on US and EU electronic consumer contracts in Acta Juridica Hungarica – this time from the point of conflict-of-laws

With use of the Internet, a new form of contract has appeared: the electronic contract, which is concluded online. Most of these involve a relationship of two parties: a consumer who is in a relatively vulnerable position, and a business entity. There are numerous examples of such transactions: youngsters downloading music from a website and paying for it – as they would in a music store. Many physical goods can also be purchased online – e.g. even though they live in Europe, the authors of this article regularly purchase books from the US. There are numerous ways such transactions can take place: one of the most obvious ways is buying goods on Amazon or eBay, on the website of a company, or purchasing goods using e-mail communication. The article attempts to summarize the choice of law rules affecting electronic contracts in the US and in Europe – i.e. to give an overview of which country’s or state’s law would apply to a contract concluded online, what the limits are on such a transaction and which state’s laws can protect us in case of a breach.

 The article can be downloaded here or by clicking the image above.

New Article on LSE EUROPP – The anti-democratic tendencies now prominent in some parts of Eastern Europe may soon become an even bigger headache for the EU than the Eurozone crisis

Twelve countries have joined the EU since 2004, with Croatia’s accession expected in 2013. Tamas Dezso Czigler argues that while the Eurozone’s economic problems are currently dominating attention, the EU is also facing a growing crisis in the new accession countries, with a number of Eastern European states exhibiting anti-democratic tendencies. The article warns that problems in Eastern Europe also threaten to derail wider reform processes within the EU.

The article can be found here.

New Article in California International Law Journal

Tamas Dezso Czigler & Izolda Takacs: The  Law Applicable To Contracts In The European Union – A Competition Between Rome I Regulation, Other Sources of EU Law and Directive Law As Implemented. CALIFORNIA INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL, Vol. 20, No. 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 2012, 21-53.

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In the early days then, there had been only fragmented and miscellaneous conflict-of-laws provisions in the acquis communautaire, focusing on specific areas. Most provisions were to be found in directives dealing with substantive law, i.e. the conflict-of-laws rules were merely extensions to the regulations in certain areas. Adopting such rules was common in the fields of consumer protection (i.e. consumer contract law) and insurance law. Numerous authors had criticized this earlier technique, which resulted in the disintegration of Community conflict-of-laws rules. There were indeed several disadvantages of the early approach. Firstly, the PIL body of law adopted for particular areas became opaque and convoluted. Secondly, in several cases the European legislator only provided a kind of “supra-collisional” rule, or to be more precise, a rule defending some provisions of Community law. That is to say, the Community PIL rules were only to be applied if doing otherwise, some substantive rules of EU/Community law would have been violated. This approach made the system unpredictable. Thirdly, the solutions for implementing these rules into MSs’ national statutes seem rather diverse and sometimes inconsistent with each other. Fourthly, EU/Community rules also disrupted existing and functioning national systems. This was the case for insurance law: EU/Community law reinvented effective national insurance law and in some places, rewrote the rules using ill-chosen constructs. Due to the above, the PIL aquis on insurance contracts became almost chaotic. Adopting regulations with a wider scope or the assembling of such regulations as was done in the Rome I Regulation can be considered to be a great leap forward, even if the methods of codification in the Regulation warrant some criticism. Last but not least, some “hidden” PIL rules were codified in directives: this made their application even more difficult, since the direct effect of directives not implemented by MSs is ambiguous.

The article can be downloaded here: CalBar_ILJ_Vol-20.1_v05

…and the third piece on LSE EUROPP – Why the system of EU is inadequate in protecting human rights…

Pls find my latest piece on LSE EUROPP

Hungary is sleepwalking into an authoritarian state. But the European Union is limited in the pressure it is able to exert.

Hungary is a member of the European Union (EU), but the country is sleepwalking into an authoritarian state, argueTamas Dezso Czigler and Izolda Takacs. In their third post on Hungary’s government, they explore measures that the EU could take in order to sanction the country, some which may be more effective than others.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/05/21/hungary-eu-role/#more-3018

Second part of the series on London School of Economics – European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) blog

Pls find the second article of the series on London School of Economics – European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) blog  about the recent changes in Hungary.

Hungary is a member of the European Union, but the country is sleepwalking into an authoritarian state, argue Tamas Dezo Czigler and Izolda Takacs. In their second of three articles for EUROPP, they argue that the new governing coalition has overhauled the country’s electoral and judicial system, violated the independence of the Hungarian central bank and invaded citizens’ private lives.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/05/17/hungary-authoritarian-2/#more-2947

Article on OpenDemocracy

Pls find my latest article on Open Democracy about the connections between Euro-scepticism, extremism and history in the UK and in Hungary:

If we want to develop effective co-operation within and among the member states of the EU, history should be kept at a distance. Living in the past is not feasible, and this is equally true for Euro-scepticism, the application of human rights as well as the fight against racism and extremism…

In our opinion, the future of a state cannot be based solely on emotional foundations. For economic problems, economic measures must take centre stage. Exaggerated emotions should be consigned to where they belong: to museums.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/tamas-dezso-czigler-izolda-takacs/myths-of-history-euro-scepticism-and-fundamental-rights#_ednref

Article on London School of Economics – European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) blog

Pls find my latest article on London School of Economics – European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) blog  about the recent changes in Hungary.

“Has Hungary become an authoritarian state? In their first of three articles on the Hungarian government, Tamas Dezso Czigler and Izolda Takacs argue that the country has become a distorted democracy on the brink of autocracy. Worryingly, the vast majority of Hungarians do not seem to be alarmed by these.” 

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/05/15/hungary-distorted-democracy/

Jog és realitás [Law and reality] – Élet és irodalom [Life and literature] May 6, 2012

Please find my latest article Jog és realitás [Law and reality]  in the Hungarian weekly journal Élet és irodalom  [Life and literature] .  I discussed the connection between EU fundamental rights policy and the new Hungarian regime (subscription required to read it)…

http://www.es.hu/kereses/szerzo/Czigler%20Dezs%C5%91%20Tam%C3%A1s

New article on nationalism and the single European market

Pls find my latest article “Protectionism – The Side Effect of Hungarian Nationalism” on Social Europe Journal (Part of Guardian Comment Network)

Hungary’s government has lately found itself in the cross hairs of critics both international and domestic. Its detractors point to two major issues. First is the barrage of potentially anti-democratic and positively useless laws that have been adopted over a single year, including a new constitution, media law, acts affecting the judicial and electoral systems, governance of the national bank and more – three hundred laws so far…  Secondly, due to the economic crisis and the bad and unimaginative economic policies of the present and earlier governments in Budapest, fiscal policy has become subject to harsh criticism… However, besides fears for democracy and worries over economic problems, there is a third issue regarding Hungary which has been overlooked by the media – the conflict between the founding principles of the common European market and nationalistic protectionism: recently, free movement of goods into Hungary, the free establishment of companies and guaranteeing fair competition all seem to have been impaired.

http://www.social-europe.eu/2012/04/protectionism-the-side-effect-of-hungarian-nationalism/