Conference on Cynical International Law in Berlin


Friday, 6 September 2019

Conference website:

Conference Venue: Henry Ford Building, Freie Universität Berlin (Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin). Welcome and Keynote SpeechLecture Hall A (Hörsaal A), Panels: Senate Hall (Senatssaal)

Download program

9.30-9.45          Welcome 
Prisca Feihle (Freie Universität Berlin) / Dr. Björnstjern Baade (Freie Universität Berlin)

Prof. Dr. Klaus Hoffmann-Holland (Vice President, Freie Universität Berlin)


9.45-11.00        Keynote Speech
Prof. Dr. Gerry Simpson
 (London School of Economics and Political Science)

11.00-11.20          Coffee Break


Panel 1: Cynical Foundations of International Law

Chair: Dr. Dana Burchardt (KFG International Rule of Law / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)


Prof. Dr. Theresa Reinold (Universität Duisburg-Essen)
Cynicism and the Autonomy of International Law

Comment: Prof. Dr. Martti Koskenniemi (University of Helsinki)


Ass. Prof. Dr. Gabriel Lentner (Danube University Krems)
Beyond Cynicism and Critique: International Law and the Possibility of Change

Comment: Prof. Dr. Janne Nijman (University of Amsterdam)


Prof. Hengameh Saberi (Osgoode Hall Law School of York University)
Cynicism in International Law: A Path to Political Entrepreneurship

Comment: Prof. Dr. Andreas von Arnauld (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)


13.20-14.20          Lunch Break


Panel 2: Cynical Actors in International Law

Chair: Raphael Schäfer (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law)
Konstantin Kleine (Graduate Institute Geneva)
The International Law Commission as a Club of Cynics? Originalism and Legalism in the Commission’s Contemporary Work

Comment: Prof. Dr. Patrícia Galvão Teles (Autonomous University of Lisbon)


Daniel Ricardo Quiroga-Villamarin (Graduate Institute Geneva)
From Speaking Truth to Power to Speaking Power’s Truth: Transnational Judicial Activism in an Increasingly Illiberal World

Comment: Prof. Dr. Andreas Paulus (Universität Göttingen)


Christian Pogies (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Oceans of Cynicism? Norm-Genesis, Lawfare and the South China Sea Arbitration Case

Comment: Prof. Dr. Nele Matz-Lück (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)


16.20-16.40          Coffee Break


Panel 3: Cynicism in EU Law

Chair: Linus Mührel (Technische Universität Dresden/Freie Universität Berlin)
Ass. Prof. Dr. Tamas Ziegler (Eötvös Lorand University)
The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition as a Source of Cynicism in the EU

Comment: Prof. Dr. Christian Calliess (Freie Universität Berlin)


Jesse Claassen (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Assessing the Strategic Use of the EU Preliminary Ruling Procedure by National Courts

Comment: Prof. Dr. Sigrid Boysen (Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg)


20.00    Dinner

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Panel 4: Cynicism in the Sub-Fields of International Law

Chair:  Lena Riemer (Freie Universität Berlin)


Caroline Omari Lichuma (Universität Göttingen)
In International Law We (Do Not) Trust: the Persistent Rejection of Economic and Social Rights as a Manifestation of Cynicism

Comment: Prof. Dr. Dominik Steiger (Technische Universität Dresden)


Dr. Shiri Krebs (Deakin University School of Law)
The War on International Law: Legal Cynicism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Comment: Prof. Dr. Marco Sassòli (Université de Genève)


Elisabeth Baier (Carlo-Schmid-Fellow at the International Criminal Court)
Zynismus? Ja Bitte! Embracing Cynicism in International Criminal Law

Comment: Elisabeth Baumgartner LL.M. (swisspeace)


11.00-11.15          Coffee Break


Panel 5: Cynicism and Abuse of Rights

Chair: Alicia Köppen (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Philipp Janig (Universität der Bundeswehr München)
‘Cynical’ Outgrowths of Nationality Planning in Investment Law

Comment: Prof. Dr. Campbell McLachlan (Victoria University of Wellington)


Andrea Faraci (Italian qualified lawyer) and Luigi Lonardo (King’s College London)
Abuse of Right in International Law: A Roman Law Analogy

Comment: Prof. Dr. Helmut Aust (Freie Universität Berlin)


Dr. Helene Hayden (Higher Regional Court Vienna)
The European Concept of Abuse of Rights – an Analysis Based on Aggressive Tax Practices

Comment: Prof. Dr. Franz Mayer (Yale) (Universität Bielefeld)


13.15-13.30      Concluding Remarks
Prof. Dr. Heike Krieger 
(Freie Universität Berlin)         

13.30                Light Lunch

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

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.

[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.

[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,

[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,

[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:

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

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.

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

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

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

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





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.

se logo

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.




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.


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.


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.

12973065_10153521593317060_656052631161062520_o 12977197_10153521593242060_376756092324843073_o


Report on child abduction



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.

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

“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.

There’s Nothing New About the New Racism – Anna Holmes in the Time

Pls find below an article by Anna Holmes originally published in the Time (here), I liked it a lot.


A new book by ‘Tiger Mom’ Amy Chua claims to explain why some groups fail and others succeed. We’ve heard this all before.
Let’s be clear, there’s nothing “new” about “the new racism,” the term Suketu Mehta uses to characterize the arguments of Amy Chua and Jed Rubetiger-mom-triple-packagenfeld in reviewing their new book, “The Triple Package.” Chua and Rubenfeld’s ahistorical and condescending-sounding treatise, which seems primed to satisfy the appetites of salivating marketing departments and morning show producers, argues that three traits — a superiority complex, insecurity, and impulse control — account for why immigrant groups like Asians and Indians thrive in America. Mehta argues that this constitutes a “new racism,” where some groups are praised in order to denigrate others — who apparently deserve to fail because they lack these traits.
But isn’t this just the same old racism — barely wearing new clothes? Racism has always come in a variety of costumes and cloaks. Put another way: bigotry, intolerance, discrimination and violence can be as covert as they are overt; can owe a debt as much to the seemingly reasonable intellects of academies and legislatures as the Neanderthal ranting of the ugliest segregationists and supremacists.

The umbrella term for these scourges, “racism,” is the physical and psychological genocide of generations of stolen people, yes, but it is also the root of modern-day drug policy and the for-profit, institutionalization of millions of black and brown men. It is the privileging of the needs of luxury real estate developers over a commitment to fair, safe, affordable housing. It is a member of Congress shouting “You lie.” And it is the wink-wink of the modern-day Republican party insisting that “yes, you built that.”

Racism is not, nor has it ever been, “new” — it is what this country was built on. It is as American as apple pie.
To be fair, Suketu Mehta says as much, writing that Chua and Rubenfeld’s “The Triple Package” contains within it ideas and conclusions about American achievement that have long been dressed up in other, perhaps more explicitly distasteful — genetic, religious, economic — disguises.

But even calling this slightly new shade, this culture-based argument for achievement, this soft bigotry of the myth of group Exceptionalism, “new” obscures the realities of injustice in America. It assigns to publicity-hungry individuals and pseudoscientists responsibility for a narrow-mindedness that is, in fact, long-established and structural — as political as it is personal. It suggests that there is an “old” racism we have somehow moved beyond. As the Los Angeles Times’ Ellen D. Wu says of the model minority myth, it “both fascinates and upsets precisely because it offers an unambiguous yet inaccurate blueprint for solving the nation’s most pressing issues.”

So let’s not call it “new.” Let’s acknowledge that even if, as Mehta says, the United States thinks it has moved beyond race, many Americans refuse to believe that “race” was ever an issue to move beyond in the first place. Let’s not only recognize but thoroughly explore this nation’s longstanding, stubborn and self-deluding need to believe that success is based solely — or mostly — on merit, not the more complex, messy stew of opportunity, visibility, class, physical privilege, social capital, psychological stamina, and yes, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

“The Triple Package” is not evidence of a “new racism.” It’s the same old garbage, in a slightly different, Ivy League-endorsed disguise.

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.