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

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