Slovenia constitutionally reloaded, but still failing

Matej Avbelj Some time ago this blog has lent itself as a platform for an intense debate on a systemic rule of law and democracy defiance in several EU Member States, most notably in Hungary. In that context, I contributed a short post on what I then called the de facto failed Slovenian democracy. I described a judicial process against the leader of the opposition, who was accused and convicted with the force of res judicata exclusively on the basis of circumstantial evidence for having accepted a promise of an unknown award at a vaguely determined time, at an undetermined place and by an undetermined mode of communication to use his influence, then as a Prime Minister, to have a military contract awarded to the Finnish company Patria. The ruling was confirmed by the Supreme Court and then appealed to the Constitutional Court. Two days ago the latter quashed the entire process. Continue reading


Fri 24. April 13:27
Dr. “Law-Discoverer” and Mr. “Law-Maker”: the Strange Case of Case-Law in France.
Tue 21. April 17:24
Asylum Policy in the EU: Holy Saint Florian, Spare this Cottage, Burn the Other One!
Tue 21. April 08:05
“Italian-style” secession and the semi-indifference of national politics

Up for Debate

Dr. “Law-Discoverer” and Mr. “Law-Maker”: the Strange Case of Case-Law in France.

Sébastien Platon

The legal status of case-law is ambiguous in most legal systems. It is in fact a constitutional matter, a matter of separation of powers. If the judges can “make” the law, doesn’t it make them the equivalent of the legislative power? The legal situation of case-law in France traditionally reflects this ambiguity. However, a recent trend in French law seems to imply that case-law is progressively accepted as a source of law. The latest example of this is a decision from the Tribunal des conflits on the 9th March 2015. Continue reading

364 Sébastien Platon

Asylum Policy in the EU: Holy Saint Florian, Spare this Cottage, Burn the Other One!

Nora Markard

In the past days, an estimated 1,000 people drowned in the Mediterranean, when two boats sank in quick succession. The urgent call for a search and rescue system adequate to the situation is completely justified. Assistance in distress at sea is an age-old international obligation, which was laid down in several international treaties, and to denounce it as support for smugglers is as cynical as it is misleading. If smugglers aren’t to profit from these needs, legal access to asylum must be opened—showing the very solidarity to overstrained countries in the region that the Refugee Convention demands in its preamble. This requires a radically different approach; the measures envisaged by the EU are but a meager beginning. Continue reading

25 Nora Markard

“Italian-style” secession and the semi-indifference of national politics

Cristina Fasone

On April 28th, the Italian Constitutional Court will hold a public hearing on the constitutionality of the planned independence referendum in the northern Italian region of Veneto. Unlike its Scottish and Catalan counterparts, the Veneto secession case has been largely ignored on the national political level in Italy. From a legal point of view, the unconstitutionality of an independence referendum seems hard to deny. But politically, nevertheless, treating regional separatism as a taboo could endanger the very thing it seeks to protect, the one and indivisible Republic of Italy. Continue reading

358 Cristina Fasone
 Focus  Nudging: a Lawyer's Problem?

Nudging as a Common Practice in International Aid

Leonie Vierck

My small contributing message to this debate is that nudging plays an important role in aid politics. Substantially, there are parallel debates going on, and you might find some of the insights useful by means of transferral. As this is a new and explorative debate, there might still be space for some inspiration from related fields. Continue reading

359 Leonie Vierck

The UK’s general election: a fundamental change to UK/EU relations?

Steve Peers

The result of the current British election campaign could be crucial for the future of the UK’s relations with the European Union. Every UK-wide election party which is likely to win seats in the election has now released its election manifesto, namely: the Conservatives;Labour; Liberal Democrats; UKIP; and the Greens. It’s therefore a good time to examine what the parties are saying about the EU, and what the various post-election scenarios would mean for the UK’s relations with the EU. Continue reading

360 Steve Peers
 Focus  Nudging: a Lawyer's Problem?

Take your 3D glasses off – How nudging provokes the way we imagine law

Christopher Unseld

Nudging does polarize, but it also challenges the conventional way German legal scholars imagine the world of law. Even though it is good intuition to be afraid of a totalitarian government of economic rationality, it would be wrong to defend our current logic of judicial proportionality against the nudging approach. Instead, we should embrace democratically supervised economic expertise within our regulatory framework, without giving up on the possibility of radical love and revolution. Continue reading

152 Christopher Unseld
 Focus  Nudging: a Lawyer's Problem?

Why lawyers should deal with Nudges

Niels Petersen

Emanuel Towfigh and Christian Traxler have asked why the nudging debate has arrived so late in the German legal discourse. They argue that this is due to a mixture of reasons related to legal culture and legal education. I agree with their analysis. So let me address one question that both authors do not touch. Why should lawyers deal with the question of nudging? Wouldn’t this rather be a task for psychologists or behavioral economists? Prima facie, there seems to be a lot in favor of leaving the discussion on nudges to social scientists. A nudge seeks to alter people’s behavior without restraining choices. In order to influence people’s behavior, however, you have to analyze behavioral patterns, which is impossible without empirical methods. Continue reading

356 Niels Petersen
 Focus  Nudging: a Lawyer's Problem?

Path dependencies of nudging, and how to overcome them

Georgios Dimitropoulos

In a thought-provoking comment on the legitimacy of nudging, Towfigh and Traxler rightly point out that nudges have many facets. As a result, their legitimacy has to be judged case by case. Responding partly to Towfigh and Traxler and partly to the broader issue of the legitimacy of nudging, I want to distinguish between two aspects that are raised in the comment: firstly, public and legal legitimacy and secondly, legitimacy among legal professionals. Continue reading

354 Georgios Dimitropoulos
 Focus  Nudging: a Lawyer's Problem?

Nudging: Neither a Novelty, nor a Promising Lead – Unless in Context

Gunnar Folke Schuppert

If we take a look through the lens of administrative science we see two things: firstly, that the concept of nudging cannot rightfully claim to have any news value, and secondly, that it needs to be placed within the context of contemporary insights from the fields of controlling science and communication theory. Continue reading

353 Gunnar Folke Schuppert
 Focus  Nudging: a Lawyer's Problem?

A Design Perspective on Nudging

Sabine Junginger

Although design thinking has become a buzzword in business and although human-centered design approaches are being explored in a range of public innovation labs concerned with developing and delivering citizen-centric policies and public services, nudging is rarely discussed for its design implications. What would such a discussion contribute and how may it help us focus on the potential benefits of a nudging approach? It would begin by questioning how nudging enhances or diminishes people’s abilities to take deliberate action or to make informed decisions. Continue reading

355 Sabine Junginger
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A European Network of Constitutional Law Blogs


In many EU countries, constitutional law blogs with large audiences have emerged, putting forward pointed opinions and profound expert knowledge on topical matters of public policy. We want to connect these blogs and encourage the creation of new blogs to form a tightly-knit network of cooperation. Within one year we want to set up an organizational framework to exchange texts and authors, to launch joint debates on current constitutional issues and to establish a vibrant constitutional public sphere in Europe. For this, we need your support. Continue reading

Too big to handle: Why we are so bad at preventing catastrophes

2014-10-12 Disaster
(c) sea turtle, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Financial crises, genocides, environmental catastrophes, epidemics, wars – constantly things happen we knew exactly that they would a) happen with some likeliness or even certainty, and b) be absolutely horrible. And still we have let it happen. And not just because we could not help it. But because somehow, all things considered, we did not want to. We haven’t done what we could have done. We didn’t want to know what we could have known. What is this strange phenomenon about? And how can we improve ourselves? To find answers to those questions, last week an extraordinarily illustrious group of scholars from all sorts of disciplines had assembled at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. Continue reading

Will an independent Scotland stay in the EU?

2014-09-05 Schottland
(c) James Stringer, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

In less than two weeks we will know whether or not Scotland will remain part of the UK. In the polls, the No camp still leads, but just by a slight and shrinking margin. It might actually happen what has never happened before: One EU member state becomes two. Or, will they? Continue reading

Bosnia and the problem of generalizable human rights gauges

2014-07-15 Bosnien
(c) Amanda Robinson, Flickr CC BY-BC-ND 2.0

For five years Bosnia has been digging its heels in, refusing to align its constitution to the demands of the ECHR and to grant non-bosniacs, -serbs and -croats the right to be elected to its second chamber of legislation. Now, the Strasbourg Court has once again declared this state of affairs unacceptable. But what if it would hold other constitutional systems, such as that of the European Union, up to the standard it applies in the Bosnian case? Continue reading

Burqa Ban: My Right to Be Left Alone is Your Tough Luck

2014-07-07 Trespassing
(c) Michael Dorausch, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

An often heard argument in the debate on the burqa ban decision by the ECtHR is that a minimum of "vivre ensemble" is a condition of all freedom and hence a legitimate balancing factor with the rights to privacy and religious freedom. This, though, is irreconcilable with the "right to be left alone". Continue reading

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