Greece is obviously at the forefront of many EU scholars’ minds over the past number of weeks. There has been an avalanche of commentary and analysis on the Greek bailout negotiations both from those with intimate knowledge of the situation and familiarity with Greek politics, the EMU and sovereign debt crises as well speculation from the sidelines from those of us more ignorant of these matters. Therefore as someone whose credibility in the debate (such as it is) is limited to the expertise of the constitutional lawyer with a good familiarity of EU law generally, I have limited my two (euro)cents on the topic to a number of (mostly factual) propositions related to the crisis for what they are worth. Most I think are obvious and (hopefully) few are contentious but I think that they are worth (re)stating in the context of the war of words and recrimination from all sides present in the debate in recent days. Continue reading
Up for Debate
Avoiding Grexit is, of course, the important achievement of the Agreement. But this counts as a success no more than surviving self-inflicted wounds: Concrete discussions on Grexit revived only in the last months and especially after the recent referendum. They are actually the product of the negotiation strategy itself. If we are looking for success then, we are left with debt relief and the new conditionality. Continue reading
The conventional wisdom, delivered before anyone could really ponder the fine print of the Greek debt deal, is that Tsipras surrendered to the creditors in a humiliating defeat. His referendum and prior tenacity in negotiations proved futile,according to the predominant account that has emerged in the media and the twitter and blog worlds. Wrong on all counts. And here's why. Continue reading
In the Anglophone press and in some intellectual circles there appears to be a broad alliance favouring an “end to austerity”. What all these positions share is that they treat the crisis as a matter of theoretical dispute: If only the correct economic or philosophical view would prevail the appropriate course of action would be clear. The current situation might help to remind us, the theorists, that in the course of actions we can only watch and sometimes, like when Hegel saw Napoleon, get a glimpse of world history. It might also remind us that before theoria was invented as an eternal idea a different, more mundane view reigned: Heraclitus's reflection of polemos (war, fight, struggle) as the father of all things. Continue reading
On 19 June 2015 the Venice Commission issued its final opinion on the Law on government cleansing (lustration law) of Ukraine. Compared to the interim opinion, the final document is much more favorable to the Ukraine’s lustration initiative. One of the most interesting changes concerns the role of guilt in the lustration framework. Continue reading
There is much speculation, some of it silly, about how to leave the euro if you want to. The ordinary way requires unanimity in the Council, so Greece (or anyone else) could veto the plan. So is there a way for Greece to exit the euro by qualified majority voting (QMV)? Here the logical thing to do is turn to the decision-making process that applies to joining the euro, and reverse the thrust. Continue reading
July 5, 2015 will go down in history as a game changer for Europe, regardless of what you think, or would have voted for, in the Greek referendum. The future of the Eurozone is no longer a private affaire by EU leaders and creditors but – amid an ill-designed and largely unanticipated referendum – suddenly became the object of a transnational and pan-European political conversation about our collective future. For the first time, no single EU citizen – regardless of her passport – could credibly claim not to care about what was going on in another Member State. Continue reading
It is great to see this debate on the EU justice deficit. To me this debate goes to the fundamental issue of legitimacy, with which the EU continues to grapple. However I have one regret, which relates to the lack of attention devoted to the European Union's justice deficit in the area of civil and private law. All of us enter into private law obligations throughout our lives, making small contracts, buying property, inheriting property, being involved in an accident; the list is endless. The justice or injustice consequences of these civil law interactions, in terms of the way in which these obligations operate, are construed and adjudicated upon which can dramatically impact individuals and society. Continue reading
Amongst mounting controversies surrounding the Greek bailout program and the referendum called by the Greek government, questions about the constitutionality of the initiative have been raised. The matter is of great importance, since the Council of the State will rule on the constitutionality of the bill this Friday. Given what is at stake, this might seem to be a totally peripheral question. That said, we will attempt a response, so as to clarify certain legal questions and also to point at the uses and abuses of constitutional arguments. Continue reading
A ‘no’ result in the Greek referendum next Sunday will set in motion the process of disengagement from the Eurozone. It is true that the EU cannot throw Greece out of the Euro. There is no legal mechanism for ‘Grexit’ as Syriza’s ministers say again and again. But this is irrelevant. The mechanism will work the other way round: the Greek government will beg for Grexit, when it finds out that it absolutely has to recapitalise its banks within a matter of days and discovers that the unilateral creation of a new currency is against EU law. Continue reading
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
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
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
Obama did it, Cameron too, and now Germany seems determined to do it as well: Angela Merkel seeks advice in behavorial economics, according to her spokesman, in order to try more
Five years ago this blog first saw the light of day. Continue reading
This article is available only in German.
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
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
This article is available only in German.
This article is available only in German.