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.

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

 

My lecture at the Geneva workshop on the EU and the crisis of the international liberal order

That was such a magnificient event, thanks for the organizers and the participants! The slides of my lecture are available here. I mixed my researches on a European anti-Enlightenment tradition and EU disintegration.

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

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.”

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.

Conference on human rights of refugees in Rome

Gave a presentation about the change of EU refugee law at a conference of the Institute for International Legal Studies (ISGI) of the Italian National Research Council (National Research (CNR).

I tried to mix refugee law with European studies. The title of my lecure was ‘Reverse (negative) spillovers and the EU’s refugee crisis – Disintegration within the EU’, you can download the slides of the lecture here.

Please note that we also plan to publish a book about this topic (Human Rights Of Asylum Seekers In Italy And Hungary – Influence Of International And Eu Law On Domestic Actions. G. Giappichelli & Eleven Publishing, Rome, The Hague, will be published shortly.). My chapter in this book will be called ‘EU Asylum Law: Disintegration and Negative Spillovers.’

Please find below the pictures of this last conference.

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.

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.

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. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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.

Gave two special lectures for our students

In the first lecture I talked about Hungary’s  illiberal turn and especially about the transformation of the domestic free market into a less competitive, centrally governed market in which state capture and oligarchs dominate. I used examples from Hungarian history to show such actions have historical tradition in the country, and I explained why there is a conflict between EU law and government policies. You find the slides of the lecture here.

hangya

Second, we watched the movie Sin nombre, and after watching it I gave a small presentation (in Hungarian) about US and Central American gangs, and especially about Mara Salvatrucha. Since following gang/maffia related conflicts in the US is one of my hobbies, I enjoyed talking about them a lot, even though this is not srrictly related to my scientific work . You can download the slides here.

sn

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.

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.

Report of CoE on Hungary

An excellent report on Hungary was published recently by CoE. The report can be reached here. It focuses on three topics: 1) Media freedom 2) Fight against intollerance and discrimination 3) Human rights of migrants and refugees

The contents reach a wide range of topics, some of the most important problems we face day-by-day. Pls find below the content of the work.

Summary

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
1 Media freedom ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9
1.1 Hungary’s media legislation and the right to freedom of expression ………………………………………………9
1.1.1 Media content regulation…………………………………………………………………………………………………….9
1.1.2 Imposition of sanctions on the media………………………………………………………………………………….10
1.1.3 Protection of journalists’ sources………………………………………………………………………………………..11
1.1.4 Registration requirements …………………………………………………………………………………………………12
1.1.5 Problems relating to the independence of media regulatory bodies ………………………………………12
1.1.6 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….13
1.2 Threats to media pluralism………………………………………………………………………………………………………14
1.2.1 Advertising market……………………………………………………………………………………………………………14
1.2.2 Tax on advertising …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15
1.2.3 Political party advertising …………………………………………………………………………………………………..15
1.2.4 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….16
1.3 The need to decriminalise defamation………………………………………………………………………………………16
1.3.1 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….17

2 The fight against intolerance and discrimination ……………………………………………………………………….. 18
2.1 The rise of racism and intolerance in Hungary ……………………………………………………………………………18
2.1.1 Anti-Gypsyism…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..18
2.1.2 Antisemitism…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….19
2.1.3 Xenophobia ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..19
2.1.4 Extremist organisations……………………………………………………………………………………………………..20
2.1.5 The response of the Hungarian authorities…………………………………………………………………………..21
2.1.6 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….23
2.2 The need to fight against Discrimination……………………………………………………………………………………25
2.2.1 General context………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..25
2.2.1.1 Conclusion and recommendations ………………………………………………………………………………….25
2.2.2 Discrimination against Roma………………………………………………………………………………………………25
2.2.2.1 Conclusions and recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………………..27
2.2.3 Discrimination against persons with disabilities ……………………………………………………………………28
2.2.3.1 Conclusions and recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………………..30
2.2.4 Discrimination against LGBTI persons………………………………………………………………………………….32
2.2.4.1 Conclusions and recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………………..33
2.2.5 Discrimination on grounds of socio-economic status …………………………………………………………….33
2.2.5.1 Conclusions and recommendations ……………………………………………………………………………………..353
3 Human rights of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees …………………………………………………………. 36
3.1 Detention of Asylum seekers……………………………………………………………………………………………………36
3.1.1 Shortcomings of the current detention regime …………………………………………………………………….37
3.1.2 Vulnerable asylum seekers…………………………………………………………………………………………………38
3.1.3 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….38
3.2 Integration of refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection…………………………………..40
3.2.1 Integration framework ………………………………………………………………………………………………………40
3.2.2 Family reunification…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..40
3.2.3 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….41
3.3 Statelessness …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………42
3.3.1 Conclusions and recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………….43

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 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.

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/