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.

New article in El Pais on academic freedom in Hungary (in Spanish)

HUNGRÍA Y LA RESTRICCIÓN SISTEMÁTICA DE LA LIBERTAD ACADÉMICA

Link: http://agendapublica.elpais.com/hungria-y-la-restriccion-sistematica-de-la-libertad-academica/

My lecture at the Free University Berlin

I tried to theorize the limitation of academic freedom in Hungary and the EU. The lecture was called “The anti-Enlightenment tradition and the limitation of academic freedom – A search of domestic and EU-level answers”. The slides are available here.

“Let them come to Berlin!” – Yes, we are here!!!!

In May I stay as a guest researcher at Freie Universität Berlin in the framework of their research project “Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)”. My researches about the European anti-Enlightenment tradition, EU disintegration and the limitation of academic freedom fits completely among the topics of the project.

I will also give a lecture (Otto Suhr Institute colloquium) on 27th May at 16:00. The title will be “The anti-Enlightenment tradition and the limitation of academic freedom: a search of domestic and EU-level answers”.

“The Cluster of Excellence Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS) analyzes the contemporary controversies about the liberal order from a historical, global, and comparative perspective. What are the causes of the current contestations? How do they differ from earlier crises? What are the consequences for democracy and the global challenges of the 21st century?… In addition to Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, five other Berlin-based research institutions are participating in SCRIPTS: the Centre for East European and International Studies, the German Institute for Economic Research, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, the Hertie School of Governance, and the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient.” The description of Scripts is available here. Their website is at https://www.scripts-berlin.eu/.

scripts

 

PEW’s latest report on Eastern and Western European divide is out

I was happy to give some hints on the European law related issues in the report. You can read the complete report here. It tells a lot about the present stage of European integration.

Differences over the meaning of ‘European values

Is Christianity a “European value?” What about secularism? And how about multiculturalism and open borders?

Leaders often cite European values when defending their stances on highly charged political topics. But the term “European values” can mean different things to different people. For some, it conjures up the continent’s Christian heritage; for others, it connotes a broader political liberalism that encompasses a separation between church and state, asylum for refugees, and democratic government.

For the European Union, whose members include 24 of the 34 countries surveyed in this report, the term “European values” tends to signify what Americans might consider liberal ideals.1 The “Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union” includes respect for cultural and religious diversity; prohibitions against discrimination based on religion and sexual orientation; the right to asylum for refugees; and guarantees of freedom of movement within the EU.2

These rights and principles are part of the EU’s legal system and have been affirmed in decisions of the European Court of Justice going back decades.3 But the membership of the EU has changed in recent years, beginning in 2004 to spread significantly from its historic western base into Central and Eastern Europe. Since that year, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia have joined the EU. In many of these countries, the surveys show that people are less receptive to religious and cultural pluralism than they are in Western Europe – challenging the notion of universal assent to a set of European values.

These are not the only issues dividing Eastern and Western Europe.4 But they have been in the news since a surge in immigration to Europe brought record levels of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries and sparked fierce debates among European leaders and policymakers about border policies and national values.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has articulated one strain of opposition to the EU’s conception of European values, declaring in July 2018 that “Central Europe … has a special culture. It is different from Western Europe.” Every European country, he said, “has the right to defend its Christian culture, and the right to reject the ideology of multiculturalism,” as well as the right to “reject immigration” and to “defend the traditional family model.” Earlier in the year, in an address to the Hungarian parliament, he criticized the EU stance on migration: “In Brussels now, thousands of paid activists, bureaucrats and politicians work in the direction that migration should be considered a human right. … That’s why they want to take away from us the right to decide with whom we want to live.”

This is not to suggest that support for multiculturalism is universal even in Western Europe. Substantial shares of the public in many Western European countries view being Christian as a key component of their national identity and say they would not accept Muslims or Jews as relatives. And of course, the United Kingdom voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, which many have suggested came in part due to concerns about immigration and open borders. But on the whole, people in Western European countries are much more likely than their neighbors in the East to embrace multiculturalism.”

Had a wonderful time at Warwick University

I am really grateful to the colleagues at Warwick University,  it was really inspiring to meet them, had a great time at the School of Law. I gave sereval lectures/seminars. One of them was about disintegration within the EU and the occurance of negative (reverse) spillovers in EU law (it was called Negative (reverse) spillovers in EU law – First thoughts on a theoretical framework – the slides are available here). Another lecture was about conflict-of-laws issues,  it was called The magic evolution of conflict of laws – Internationalisation, interdependence and the role of tolerance (the slides are available here).

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.

 

My lecture in Italy

As mentioned before, I gave a lecture at the Italian National Research Council about Hungary’s actions regarding refugees and the connection of legislative/political changes to European human rights (esp. EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights) in Rome.  The lecture was given in the framework of a joint research project of the Institute for International Legal Studies and the Hungarian Acadey of Sciences on refugee protection.

 

I am grateful for the colleagues at the Institute for International Legal Studies for their cooperation and their support. The slides of my lecture can be downloaded here. They can be useful for anyone who wants to have a draft about Hungary and the international/European standards regarding asylum seekers.

Will visit the Institute for International Legal Studies in Rome

We (ie. the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Institute for International Legal Studies) have a joint research project on refugee protection and EU law/international law standards, I will give a lecture this week on Friday. I am extremely happy to visit Rome, the Institute and the Italian colleagues!

 

The slides of my lectures at the University of Bergen (Faculty of Law)

I am very grateful to the Bergen University community, had a wonderful time at the university, the city was beautiful, the discussion was inspiring and I enjoyed my stay a lot. 

I attach the slides of my lectures below:

  • The slides of the first lecture (given for the Research Group in Competition & Market Law) about the connection between EU single market rules, non-discrimination of foreign companies and the new system of oligarchs (Nationalism vs. the single European market – the case of Hungary) can be accessed here.
  • The slides of the second one, a more general lecture (given for the Project Group on Constitutional law and Democracy) about the changes of rule of law in Hungary and their connection with EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights (Constitutionalism, rule of law and the Hungarian phenomenon)  can be accessed here.

Please find my blog entry about the collection of related publications in these fields here, they can serve of interest to anyone who wants to know more abut Hungary’s position within the EU. I also added some more pictures of the university. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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.

Found a highly interesting paper on a new institution

available on ssrn here

Upholding the Rule of Law in the EU: On the Commission’s ‘Pre-Article 7 Procedure’ as a Timid Step in the Right Direction


Dimitry Kochenov


Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University; University of Groningen – Faculty of Law

Laurent Pech


Middlesex University – School of Law

April 2015

Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2015/24
Abstract:

This paper provides a detailed analysis of two institutional reforms, respectively put forward by the European Commission in March 2014 and by the Council of the EU in December 2014 – on how to tackle the problem of Member States’ non-compliance with the principle of the rule of law, which is one of the fundamental values of the Union according to Article 2 TEU. It is submitted that while both proposals definitely represent a timid step in the right direction, the Commission’s ‘light-touch’ proposal falls short of what is required to effectively address ongoing and serious threats to the rule of law within the EU but is however clearly preferable to the Council’s alternative proposal to hold an annual rule of law dialogue among all Member States within the Council itself.

Balázs Majtényi on the FRAME blog: Particularism Strikes Back: National Identity versus Human Rights in the Hungarian Fundamental Law

Hungarian parliament_Flickr_artorusrex_small

“Since 2010, the Hungarian government has increasingly committed itself to the majoritarian conception of democracy, meaning that nobody and nothing, not even independent international or state and civil institutions, can stand in the way of the will of the majority serving national interests. In this article I will analyse the constitutional background of the political turn in Hungary.”

You find the original blog post here

Started to work in the FRAME FP7 project

frame
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.

How to apply the Charter? Åklagaren v Hans Åkerberg Fransson

Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 26 February 2013 (request for a preliminary ruling from the Haparanda tingsrätt – Sweden) – Åklagaren v Hans Åkerberg Fransson
(Case C-617/10)

(Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Field of application – Article 51 – Implementation of European Union law – Punishment of conduct prejudicial to own resources of the European Union – Article 50 – Ne bis in idem principle – National system involving two separate sets of proceedings, administrative and criminal, to punish the same wrongful conduct – Compatibility)

 

Request for a preliminary ruling – Haparanda tingsrätt – Interpretation of Article 6 TEU and Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – National case-law requiring a clear basis in the European Convention on Human Rights or the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in order to disapply provisions of national law liable to be contrary to the ne bis in idem principle – National legislation under which the same conduct contrary to tax law may be punished both administratively by a tax surcharge and criminally by a term of imprisonment – Compatibility with the ne bis in idem principle of a national system involving two separate sets of proceedings to punish the same wrongful conduct

Operative part of the judgment

1.    The ne bis in idem principle laid down in Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union does not preclude a Member State from imposing successively, for the same acts of non-compliance with declaration obligations in the field of value added tax, a tax penalty and a criminal penalty in so far as the first penalty is not criminal in nature, a matter which is for the national court to determine.

2.    European Union law does not govern the relations between the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, and the legal systems of the Member States, nor does it determine the conclusions to be drawn by a national court in the event of conflict between the rights guaranteed by that convention and a rule of national law.

European Union law precludes a judicial practice which makes the obligation for a national court to disapply any provision contrary to a fundamental right guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union conditional upon that infringement being clear from the text of the Charter or the case-law relating to it, since it withholds from the national court the power to assess fully, with, as the case may be, the cooperation of the Court of Justice of the European Union, whether that provision is compatible with the Charter.

Charter of fundamental rights – recent case law

 Found two new important cases on the application of the EU Charter on Fundamental rights.


1) The CJEU’s Ruling in AMS and the Horizontal Effect of the Charter – taken from Oxford Human rights HUB
ohr

“In its judgment in AMS (15 January 2014), the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on whether the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union can apply in a dispute between private parties, holding that the Charter is applicable ‘in all situations governed by European Union law’.”

Available here or by clicking on the image above.

2) The Austrian Constitutional Court’s judgement on the Charter

Available here.

Joshua Rozenberg: Never mind human rights law, EU law is much more powerful

The-Guardian-logo1
“Even though the human rights court in Strasbourg and the convention it enforces are never far from the headlines these days, it is rare to find any mention of another important human rights agreement – the European Union’s charter of fundamental rights. This is understandable: although the charter was “proclaimed” by the EU institutions more than 13 years ago, it did not become legally binding until the Lisbon treaty took effect in December 2009. Even then, the charter applies only to EU member states when they are implementing EU law. That’s stressed in a discussion paper just published by the European Commission ahead of a major conference on EU justice policy next month (at which I have been invited by the commission to make a short introductory speech)…

…The ruling demonstrates once again that EU law trumps laws passed by parliament. Despite all the attention paid to human rights law, EU law is much more powerful. And it’s a decision that may make life more difficult for ministers. The foreign office will have to tell embassies in London that they can’t sack their domestic staff without paying the compensation to which those staff are entitled under EU law. But what’s wrong with that?”

You can reach the article here or by clicking on the image above.