Rule of law update – June 2021

In our rule of law updates, we look back at the most important rule of law news of the last month. We give an overview of current events per Member State and will also mention important events, seminars and webinars on the rule of law situation in the European Union. Furthermore, we will list some important and interesting articles, books and publications concerning the rule of law. If you have any suggestions, corrections or events that you want us to mention, do not hesitate to contact us!

General:

Didier Reynders warns that the proliferation of member state challenges to the supremacy of EU law could destroy the Union, Financial Times (30 June 2021).

22 June 2021 – Article 7 hearings continue in Council of the European Union under the Portuguese Presidency.

C-156/21 and C-157/21: the President of the CJEU grants the use of the expedited procedure in cases concerning conditionality for the protection of the EU budget in the event of violation of the rule of law principles in a member state – the hearings will take place on 11 and 12 October, ECJ (11 June 2021)

Parliament’s assessment of the Commission’s 2020 report on the rule of law, read more here.

Poland:

Decision in ECtHR cases Broda and Bojara v. Poland. The European Court of Human Rights ruled a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right of access to a court) of the European Convention on Human Rights in Broda and Bojara v. Poland (applications no. 26691/18 & 27367/18) regarding dismissal of vice-presidents of courts by justice minister Ziobro. The Polish justice ministry said that it “regrets that the court took a politically motivated decision against Poland” and prime minister Morawiecki said that Poland will “implement judicial system reform in line with our priorities” (read more here on Euractiv, 30 June 2021). In Mathieu’s Leloup Verfassungsblog-article you can also read more about the Strasbourg judgment Broda and Bojara on the premature termination of Polish court (vice) presidents.

Polish Constitutional Court again postpones review of CJEU provisional measures. The Polish Constitutional Court has postponed for the third time its review of whether Poland must comply with a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to suspend regulations on judicial reforms implemented by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) which the CJEU found to be contrary to EU law. Read more on Euractiv (15 June 2021).
The Polish government has already initiated 4 cases before the unlawful Constitutional Tribunal to challenge various aspects of EU law – you can see an overview of these cases here (Rule of Law in Poland Twitter, 20 June 2021).

Orlen continues its editorial purge at Polska Press. Eight editors-in-chief were dismissed or pushed out after a takeover by state-controlled oil conglomerate Orlen. Read more on IPI (10 June 2021). Article 19 submitted an amicus curiae to the court of competition for the appeal of the Ombudsman against the decision by Poland’s competition regulator to approve the purchase of Polska Press by state-controlled oil giant PKN Orlen.

NCJ attacked the court in Bydgoszcz for reinstating Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn.
Read more on Rule of Law Poland (31 May 2021)

17/06 (O): Disciplinary proceedings against foreign lawyers #Poland #RuleOfLaw (C-55/20)

Hungary:

Hungarian parliament prepares to pass discriminatory LGBTQI+ bill. After passing through the legislative committee on Thursday, Hungary’s parliament is set to debate on Monday (14 June) legislation that bans content promoting or portraying sexual and gender diversity under the pretext of combating paedophilia (an unofficial English translation of the law can be found here). Read more on Euractiv (14 June) and on Politico about the EU’s reaction to the anti-LGBTQI+ law. 16 countries have published a letter condemning the law. The European Commission has also condemned the Hungarian law, contesting its legality under EU law in this letter – the Hungarian has until 30 June to respons, otherwise the EU will take action. Polands’ MP from Law and Justice just told journalist that the Chancellery of Prime Minister is working on a bill that will ressemble the anti-LGBT legislation from Hungary.

What has happened to the rule of law situation in Hungary since the last Article 7 hearings? The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has published an overview over the most significant qualitative changes in Hungary’s illiberal regime since 2019.

C650/18: the CJEU dismisses Hungary’s action against the Parliament resolution triggering the procedure for determining the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach, by a Member State, of the values on which the European Union is founded. Read more here.

Czech Republic:

Czech PM calls the European Prosecutor a ‘new whip’ following EPPO’s investigation into his Agrofert conglomerate. Czech authorities have shifted the case of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his conflict of interest onto the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which has confirmed they have taken the case. Babiš responded by calling the EPPO a “new whip” that is being used against him. Read more on Euractiv (14 June).

Romania:

Craiova Court of Appeal notified the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the effects of the Constitutional Court of Romania Decision no. 390/2021 concerning the independence of judges, read more here (29 June 2021).

Events:

EU Rule of Law Case-Law: Crucial Recent Developments, organised by CEU Democracy Institute – video available here.

Strengthening the rule of law and press freedom in the EU, organised by Democracy Reporting International – video available here.

Important Upcoming dates:

8 July 2021: judgment in Koleje Mazowieckie (C-120/20): first ever response to a referral from a panel of three unlawful members of the Supreme Court

8 July 2021: AG Bobek opinion in Getin Noble Bank (C-132/20)

15 July 2021: the Court of Justice will issue its ruling in the case Commission v Poland (C-791/19) concerning disciplinary regime for judges

Articles, publications, papers:

Non-Regression: Opening the Door to Solving the ‘Copenhagen Dilemma’? All the Eyes on Case C-896/19 Repubblika v Il-Prim Ministru by Mathieu Leloup, Dimitry Kochenov and Aleksejs Dimitrovs. Download here.

Gazeta Wyborcza recently published a report describing the legal harassment of free media in Poland by the ruling PiS party. You can read the report here.

Podcast on Polish democracy with Laurent Pech and Adam Bodnar, listen here.

Respect for the Rule of Law in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice: A Casebook Overview of Key Judgments since the Portuguese Judges Case, Dimitry Kochenv and Laurent Pech, download here.

Polish Ruling Party’s Education Reforms: God and Country, Claudia Ciobanu for Balkan Insight.

Ordo Iuris: The Ultra-Conservative Organisation Transforming Poland, Claudia Ciobanu for Balkan Insight.

The Antidemocratic Turn, Zselyke Csaky for Freedom House.

Alberto Alemanno and Laurent Pech have submitted a request for access to the documents prepared for the Council’s hearings under Article 7(1) (meeting no 3805) – you can follow this request here

VIDEORECORDING FROM OUR SEMINAR ‘The rule of law in the EU: lessons for the future?’ on 5 march 2021

On Friday 5 March, we organised a seminar about the rule of law and invited three amazing speakers to talk about possible lessons for the future and the discussion was led by our member John Morijn. Márta Pardavi (co-chair of the ​Hungarian Helsinki Committee) talked about the situation in Hungary and what she sees as avenues that organisations such as the Meijers Committee can take to tackle this issue efficiently. Anna Wójcik (researcher at the Institute of Legal Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, co-founder of ​ruleoflaw.pl and coordinator of The Wiktor Osiatyński Archive) talked about the current situation in Poland and what she sees as promising tools and instruments to address and change the current rule of law backsliding in the EU and particularly Poland. Kim Lane Scheppele (Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Princeton University) reflected on what (more) can be done and by whom concerning the democratic backsliding happening in several EU member states. Kim stressed furthermore that we cannot longer speak of ‘backsliding’ but should rather call it a ‘concerted assault on democracy in Poland and Hungary’. After the speeches, the participants had the opportunity to ask questions. We want to thank all speakers and participants for joining us for our first seminar organised within the project ‘Safeguarding the Rule of Law in the EU’.

Seminar rule of law: The rule of law in the EU: lessons for the future? – 5 march 2021

Information

The state of the rule of law in the EU has significantly deteriorated in recent years. In several Member States, rule of law deficiencies are clearly visible but concerns about systemic violations of the rule of law especially persist in Poland and Hungary. These countries face a severe undermining of the rule of law, a threat to the independence of the judiciary and subsequently severe risks to civil liberties.

The EU has various means at its disposal to take action against this deterioration of the rule of law, but their use is limited. Where they are used, they appear to be ineffective so far. The gradual dismantling of fundamental achievements in some Member States in relation to the rule of law situation is a cause of great concern to the Meijers Committee. Therefore, the Committee organizes a seminar on the rule of law in the European Union to learn what the lessons are for the future of the rule of law situation, where more action is needed and where coordination and cooperation is possible.

The Meijers Committee has thus invited three speakers to discuss relevant issues and promising tools for the current rule of law situation in Hungary and Poland. Our member John Morijn will lead the discussion.

Programme

12:30 – 12:40John Morijn – Introduction
12:40 – 13:00Márta Padavi – The rule of law situation in Hungary – what are the main issues?
13:00 – 13:20Anna Wójcik – The rule of law situation in Poland – what are the main issues?
13:20 –
13:40
Kim Lane Scheppele – Reflection: What (more) can be done, and by whom?
13:40 – 14:30Discussion

Registration

You can register for free by sending a mail to ​t.karg@commissie-meijers.nl.​ We will send you a link for the seminar in the week of the event.

Information about speakers

John Morijn

John Morijn is professor of law and politics in international relations and assistant professor of European human rights law at the University of Groningen. John Morijn has also worked as a civil servant at both the Ministry of Justice and Security and the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations, including as the Head of the Home Affairs Division at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU in Brussels. He is also a Commissioner of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights as well as a member of the Advisory Committee on Migration Affairs (ACVZ). Since November 2019, John Morijn has been a member of the Meijers Committee.

Márta Pardavi

Márta Pardavi is co-chair of the ​Hungarian Helsinki Committee.​ She has a law degree from the ELTE Law Faculty in Budapest. Márta Pardavi is part of the board of the PILnet Hungary Foundation and the Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. Furthermore, Márta has served as board member and vice-chair of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. She has been awarded the 2018 William D. Zabel Human Rights Award from Human Rights First, Civil Rights Defender’s Civil Rights Defenders of the Year 2019 award and was chosen to be a member POLITICO28 Class of 2019

Anna Wójcik

Anna Wójcik is a researcher at the Institute of Legal Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her Ph.D has the topic “Memory Laws in European and Comparative Perspective MELA” research consortium established between T.M.C.Asser, Queen Mary University of London, University of Bologna, and the Polish Academy of Sciences. Previously, she obtained a law degree from University of Warsaw and a sociology degree from the Central European University in Budapest. Anna Wójcik regularly writes about the current rule of law situation in Poland, such as for the ​Verfassungsblog or Notes from Poland​. She is furthermore a co-founder of ​ruleoflaw.pl and coordinator of The Wiktor Osiatyński Archive​, a rule of law monitoring initiative.

Kim Lane Scheppele

Kim Lane Scheppele is Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Previously, she was Director of the Princeton University Program in Law and Public Affairs for 10 years, after serving on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law for nearly a decade. There she held the John O’Brien Professorship of Comparative Law and the Professorship of Sociology. Kim Lane Scheppele concentrates on comparative constitutional law, using ethnographic, historical and doctrinal methods to understand the emergence and collapse of constitutional systems. She regularly writes about the authoritarian regimes and the law and politics of Hungary and Poland, for example for ​Verfassungsblog.​