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.

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

 

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

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.”

Yes, we made it

Our colleagues contributed to the Horizon 2020 success

The researchers of the HAS CSS Institute for Legal Studies also contributed to the application for the research funding, which has been awarded a one billion HUF grant by the European Union under Horizon 2020.  The DEMOS (Democratic Efficacy and the Varieties of Populism in Europe) research project, led by HAS Centre for Social Sciences has received one billion HUF (€3 million) from the European Union.

The joint research project is based on a cooperation among 15 European partners, including such distinguished research institutes as the Universities of Hamburg and Copenhagen. Under the strict requirements of the EU Research and Innovation programmes only the most outstanding applications are found eligible for funding. During the evaluation process such criteria are considered by a board composed of  European scholars as professional excellence, social impact, and the expected quality of realisation. The principal investigator of the three-year research programme is Zsolt Boda, the director of HAS Centre for Social Sciences Institute for Political Science, while researchers from other institutes of the Centre also participate in the project.

Source: https://jog.tk.mta.hu/en/news/2018/07/contribution-to-horizon2020-success

Conference at Northwestern Politechnical University in Xi’an, China

I visited Northwestern Politechincal University in Xi’an, China. It was an extremely inspiring journey, met many symphatic, smart and kind colleagues as well as students, and am really grateful for the support I received from the university. I am especially thankful to Na Li from the School of Humanities, Economics and Law.

The conference was called ‘The Silk road to Central Asia’. My presentation was about the Practical Aspects of the New Silk Road Cooperation in the European Union. I tried to give a short, introductory overview about contracting, private international law and state aid/public procurement laws in the European Union. My slides are available hereOne of my colleagues and friends, Balázs Horváthy also talked on this conference about EU-China trade and investor dispute settlement questions. 

I am also grateful to Chen Jie from the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, who was kind enough to translate my presentation to Chinese, and to the student body, who helped me a lot and guided me in Xi’an to our meetings.

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.

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.

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!

 

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.

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.

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.

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

clr

 

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.

 

 

 

Conference presentation on foreigners as enemies of state/A “külföldiek” ellenségként történő kezeléséről

Attended our regular yearly conference at the university, gave a presentation about discrimination of foreign businesses in Hungary. I focused on EU law/single market rules, corruption and the political background.

Az ELTE TÁTK kulcskérdések 2016 konferenciáján a külföldiek diszkriminációjáról és a belső piac szabályairól beszéltem, röviden kitérve a politikai oldalára illetve a korrupcióra gyakorolt hatásra. Az előadás tulajdonképpen az Állam- és Jogtudományban megjelent egy cikkem alapjául szolgáló kutatásokat (itt elérhető) viszi tovább. Az előadás diái letölthetőek innen.

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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). 

Web

 

Refugees in Hungary – recent events in light of the migration policy of the EU

!!! Unfortunately, I had to skip the conference below – however, for those who have time, it still could be of interest.

The Project for Democratic Union’s Budapest Office is partnering with AEGEE-Budapest in organizing a Conference on the European refugee crisis. The primary focus of the event will be Hungarian migration and refugee policy in light of general European practice.

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For many years the migration of European citizens within the EU has been causing worries due to its effect on the European labour market. Due to the high number of foreign job-seekers, governments of some Member States have raised their voices and called for urgent action and the reform of the EU’s migration policy. At the same time, the question of refugees coming from third countries – mainly war-zones – has been brought to the fore, after several accidents have occurred in the Mediterranean Sea.

Initially, only Mediterranean states were concerned by this situation, but lately other border countries of the EU, such as Bulgaria and Hungary, have become affected by the massive flow of often illegal immigrants and refugees. Although the EU is trying to find a coordinated answer to the problem, some countries managed to receive opt-outs and were able to carry out unilateral responses to this unprecedented situation. However, these practices are not far from being dangerous because in countries where extremism and xenophobia are on the rise, such as Hungary or Poland, they can result in a hostile attitude and hatred towards the people in despair.

Hungary’s fence erected on its Serbian border is only one example of the questionable methods EU Member States are using to solve the refugee crisis. The conference will address the Hungarian migration and refugee policy in light of the general European practice. It will also cover the EU’s current attempts to reform its migration policy and to show paths towards an acceptable solution to the situation.

Speakers:

Péter Balázs – Professor at Central European University, former Member of the European Commission, former Foreign Minister of Hungary

Carlos Puente – Economist, Attorney at Law, Political Scientist, Senior Visting Professor

Dezső Tamás Ziegler – Senior Lecturer at Eötvös Loránd University – Faculty of Social Sciences, Research Fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – Institute for Legal Studies

Event audience: Open to Public

For any further questions you may contact: Veronika Czina from PDU Budapest veronika.czina@democraticunion.eu or Péter Sczigel from AEGEE-Budapest peter.sczigel@aegee-budapest.hu

Corvinus University
Fővám tér 8 – Budapest

Date/Time
Date(s) – 23/09/2015
7:10 pm – 8:40 pm

Location
Corvinus University
Fővám tér 8
Budapest, Hungary

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.

EU common commercial policy – some important links (for students)

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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social europe log

 

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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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.

A highly interesting judgment…

The General Court annuls the listing of a university as an entity subject to restrictive measures against Iran

The General Court, however, suspends the effects of the annulment for a period of two months in order to allow the Council the opportunity to correct the irregularities identified

Sharif University of Technology (SUT) is an institution of higher education and research located in Tehran, Iran. Founded in 1966, it specialises in technology, engineering and physical sciences. The Council adopted restrictive measures (freezing of funds) against SUT for the following reasons: ‘Sharif University of Technology … is assisting designated entities to violate the provisions of UN and EU sanctions on Iran and is providing support to Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities. As of late 2011 SUT had provided laboratories for use by UN-designated Iranian nuclear entity Kalaye Electric Company (KEC) and EU‑designated Iran Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA)’.[1] SUT claims that its listing should be annulled.

In today’s judgment, the General Court upholds the action for annulment.[2]

The General Court considers that the Council committed a manifest error of assessment and failed to discharge the burden of proof which rests on it. In that regard, the General Court states that a number of documents justifying SUT’s listing were sent to it only after the expiry of the period allowed for bringing proceedings. Further, the General Court finds that the documents sent by the Council contain no information or material which adds anything to the content of the contested acts (the redacted passages in some of those documents not concerning SUT). Moreover, while the Council, on its own admission, took into account other information to be found in a separate confidential document, the General Court observes that the Member State which proposed the listing and supplied that information is opposed to its disclosure, either wholly or in part.

That being the case, the Court holds that the Council finds itself unable to provide additional information beyond that already known to SUT and that the Council has provided no explanation of its inability to disclose the confidential information. The reasons stated by the Council in the contested acts (the only material on which the General Court can base its decision) contain no evidence capable of supporting the Council’s claims: they prove neither that SUT made available laboratories to KEC and TESA nor that those laboratories could be of any value to them for their nuclear activities. Lastly, there is nothing to support the claims that SUT assisted the entities KEC and TESA to violate the restrictive measures adopted against Iran, or provided direct support to Iranian nuclear activities.

The General Court however limits the effects of its judgment for a period of two months from the date of delivery. The General Court considers that SUT’s interest in ensuring that its listing should be annulled immediately must be weighed against the objective of general interest pursued by the European Union’s policy in relation to restrictive measures. An immediate annulment would allow SUT instantly to collect the frozen funds. A further listing of SUT cannot automatically be ruled out, since the Council has the possibility of again listing the applicant on the basis of reasons which are supported to the requisite legal standard. The General Court considers therefore that it is necessary to give the Council a period of two months to enable it to correct the irregularities identified, inter alia by providing sufficient evidence to support the reasons for SUT’s listing.

NOTE: An appeal, limited to points of law only, may be brought before the Court of Justice against the decision of the General Court within two months of notification of the decision.

NOTE: An action for annulment seeks the annulment of acts of the institutions of the European Union that are contrary to European Union law. The Member States, the European institutions and individuals may, under certain conditions, bring an action for annulment before the Court of Justice or the General Court. If the action is well founded, the act is annulled. The institution concerned must fill any legal vacuum created by the annulment of the act.

[1]Council Decision 2012/829/CFSP of 21 December 2012, amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2012 L 356, p. 71) and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1264/2012 of 21 December 2012 implementing Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 concerning restrictive measures against Iran(OJ 2012 L 356, p. 55).

[2] By judgments of the same date, the General Court upholds the actions for annulment brought by an Iranian businessman (Mr Babak Zanjani, Case T-155/13) and two legal persons (Sorinet Commercial Trust Bankers and National Iranian Tankers Company, respectively Cases T-157/13 and T-565/12). As in the SUT case, the General Court considers that the Council committed a manifest error of assessment and failed to discharge the burden of proof which rests on it. In those three cases, the General Court maintains the effects of the annulled acts until the date of expiry of the period for bringing an appeal or, if an appeal has been brought, until the dismissal of the appeal.

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
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“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.

Justice and home affairs (Bel és igazságügy) – For my students

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I recently noticed that TWO Hungarian language articles we wrote together with Balázs Horváthy can be found on the internet about the Lisbon Treaty and the system of justice and home agffairs. The articles can serve as general introduction into the topic as well as for a comprehensive analysis on the institutions and legal system of JHA after Lisbon.

You can reach them here or by cliking on the image above.

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Észrevettem, hogy az intereneten elérhető KÉT írásunk a bel- és igazságügyi együttműködés Lisszaboni Szerződést követő rendszeréről.  A munkák itt, vagy fenti logóra klikkelve érhetőek el, és a Jog, Állam politika c. lapban jelentek meg. Előzőleg a Lamm Vanda emlékkötetben ugyanennek a kérdésnek egy hasonló ám máshogyan strukturált vizsgálatát végeztük el (ld. a list of publications részt ezen az oldalon).

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

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“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.

Gave a presentation for the “Occupy the University (Hallgatói Hálózat)” students (in Hungarian)

The students continously protest against the present anti-democratic government. I recapped the present situation of Hungary with especial regard to the provisions of the European Union and the possible protection provided by the CoE.

A short Hungarian language summary can be found 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.