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From a Community of Law to a Union of Values - A. von Bogdandy and P. Sonnevend (eds.), Constitutional Crisis in the European Constitutional Area - Theory, Law and Politics in Hungary and Romania (Hart Publishing 2015) - C. Closa and D. Kochenov (eds.), Reinforcing Rule of Law Oversight in the European Union (Cambridge University Press 2016) - A. Jakab and D. Kochenov (eds.), The Enforcement of EU Law and Values - Ensuring Member States’ Compliance (Oxford University Press 2017): Hungary, Poland, and European Constitutionalism

  • Matteo Bonelli
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PhD Researcher, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University.

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1 Stein, E., ‘Lawyers, Judges, and the Making of a Transnational Constitution’, 75 The American Journal of International Law (1981) p. 1 .

2 W. Hallstein, Speech at the University of Padua, March 1962: ‘The European Economic Community is a community of law … because it serves to realize the idea of law. The founding treaty, which may not be terminated, forms a kind of a Constitution for the Community’.

3 Mancini, F.G., ‘The Making of a Constitution for Europe’, 26 Common Market Law Review (1989) p. 595 ; Weiler, J.H.H., ‘The Transformation of Europe’, 100 Yale Law Journal (1991), p. 2403 .

4 ECJ 17 December 1970, Case C-11/70, Internationale Handelsgesellschaft.

5 ECJ 23 April 1986, Case C-294/83, Les Verts v Parliament.

6 Sadurski, W., Constitutionalism and the Enlargement of Europe (Oxford University Press 2011) discusses the various perspectives: the EU internal perspective, the relationship between the EU and candidate countries, as well as the impact of EU enlargement on national constitutional systems. See also de Witte, B., ‘The Impact of Enlargement on the Constitution of the European Union’, in M. Cremona (ed.), The Enlargement of the European Union (Oxford University Press 2003).

7 As showed in cases ECJ 29 January 2013, Case C-396/11 Radu; ECJ 26 February 2013, Case C-399/11, Melloni. On Melloni: see Torres Pérez, A., ‘Melloni in Three Acts: From Dialogue to Monologue’, 10 EuConst (2014) p. 308 . Generally, on the European Arrest Warrant and its impact on European and national constitutional values, see Komárek, J., ‘European Constitutionalism and the European Arrest Warrant: In Search of the Limits of “Contrapunctual Principles’”, 44 Common Market Law Review (2007) p. 9 ; Guild, E. (ed.), Constitutional Challenges to the European Arrest Warrant (Wolf Legal Publishers 2006); Albi, A., ‘Erosion of Constitutional Rights in EU Law: A Call for “Substantive Co-operative Constitutionalism”’, 9 Vienna Journal of International Constitutional Law (2015) p. 151 .

8 On the effect on crisis-reforms on national social rights, see the contributions in C. Kilpatrick and B. de Witte, ‘Social Rights in Times of Crisis in the Eurozone: The Role of Fundamental Rights’ Challenges’, EUI Working Paper LAW (2014). Even before the crisis, however, the negative impact of EU market integration on national social rights was underlined by the decisions of the ECJ in the Viking-Laval saga, see ECJ 18 December 2007, Case C-341/05, Laval; ECJ 11 December 2007, Case C-438/05, Viking.

9 Kilpatrick, C., ‘On the Rule of Law and Economic Emergency: The Degradation of Basic Legal Values in Europe’s Bailouts’, 35 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2015) p. 1 .

10 E.g. Wilkinson, M.A., ‘The Specter of Authoritarian Liberalism: Reflections on the Constitutional Crisis of the European Union’, 14 German Law Journal (2013) p. 527 .

11 BVerfG 30 June 2009, 2 BvE 2/08, para. 249.

12 von Bogdandy, A. and Sonnevend, P. (eds.), Constitutional Crisis in the European Constitutional Area - Theory, Law and Politics in Hungary and Romania (Hart Publishing 2015), ‘Preface’, p. 5 .

13 See Sadurski and de Witte, supra n. 6.

14 See infra L. Besselink, ‘’The Bite, the Bark and the Howl: Article 7 TEU and the Rule of Law Initiatives’, in Jakab and Kochenov, infra n. 19.

15 On the Haider affair: Merlingen, M., Mudde, C. and Sedelmeier, U., ‘The Right and the Righteous? European Norms, Domestic Politics and the Sanctions Against Austria’, 39 Journal of Common Market Studies (2001) p. 59 ; Sadurski, W.Adding Bite to a Bark: the Story of Article 7, E.U. Enlargement, and Jorg Haider’, 16 Columbia Journal of European Law (2010) p. 385 . The Austrian case is discussed also in the Jakab and Kochenov volume, see K. Lachmayer, ‘Questioning the Basic Values – Austria and Jorg Haider’, in Jakab and Kochenov, infra n. 19.

16 The Italian case is discussed in F. Hoffmeister, ‘Enforcing the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in Member States: How Far are Rome, Budapest and Bucharest from Brussels?’, in von Bogdandy and Sonnevend, infra n. 19.

17 See e.g. Williams, A., ‘The indifferent gesture: Article 7 TEU, the Fundamental Rights Agency and the UK’s invasion of Iraq’, 31 European Law Review (2006) p. 3 .

18 Kovacs, K. and Toth, G.A., ‘Hungary’s Constitutional Transformation’, 7 EuConst (2011) p. 183 .

19 von Bogdandy, A. and Sonnevend, P. (eds.), Constitutional Crisis in the European Constitutional Area - Theory, Law and Politics in Hungary and Romania (Hart Publishing 2015); Closa, C. and Kochevno, D. (eds.), Reinforcing Rule of Law Oversight in the European Union (Cambridge University Press 2016); Jakab, A. and Kochenov, D. (eds.), The Enforcement of EU Law and Values - Ensuring Member States’ Compliance (Oxford University Press 2017).

20 For other relevant contributions to the topic, see Schroeder, W. (ed.), Strengthening the Rule of Law in Europe – From a Common Concept to Mechanisms of Implementation (Hart Publishing 2016). Since I contributed to one of the chapters of this volume, I have chosen not to include it in my review.

21 The volume by von Bogdandy and Sonnevend, which begins with six chapters dedicated to two constitutional crises: Hungary and Romania, see infra.

22 The second case-study presented in von Bogdandy and Sonnevend. See infra.

23 Dawson, M. and Muir, E., ‘Individual, Institutional and Collective Vigilance in Protecting Fundamental Rights in the EU: Lessons From the Roma’, 48 Common Market Law Review (2011) p. 751 .

24 See ECtHR 21 January 2011, Case No. 30696/09, M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece; ECJ 21 December 2011, Joined Cases C-411 & 493/10, N.S. v Secretary of State for the Home Department; von Bogdandy, A. and Ioannidis, M., ‘Systemic Deficiency in the Rule of Law: What It Is, What Has Been Done, What Can Be Done’, 51 Common Market Law Review (2014) p. 59 .

25 The ECtHR found systemic deficiencies in Italy (ECtHR 8 January 2013, Case No. 43517/09, 46882/09, 55400/09, 57875/09, 61535/09, 35315/10 and 37818/10, Torreggiani and Others v Italy), Belgium (ECtHR 25 November 2014, Case No. 64682/12 Vasilescu v Belgium), Bulgaria (ECtHR 27 January 2015, Case Nos. 36925/10, 21487/12, 72893/12, 73196/12, 77718/12 and 9717/13 Neshkov and Others v Bulgaria) and Hungary (ECtHR 10 March 2015, Case Nos. 14097/12, 45135/12, 73712/12, 34001/13, 44055/13, and 64586/13, Varga and Others v Hungary).

26 The three volumes reviewed here, for reasons of time, could not analyse the Polish constitutional crisis in detail. Some general references can, however, be found in A. von Bogdandy, C. Antpöhler and M. Ioannidis, ‘Protecting EU Values - Reverse Solange and the EU Rule of Law Framework’, in Jakab and Kochenov, supra n. 19.

27 The Reverse Solange doctrine, the systemic infringement procedure and Muller’s Copenhagen Commission have been the subjects of several discussions on the VerfassungsBlog for Constitutional matters, for example: <>, visited 12 September 2017.

28 Dupré (chapter 14) p. 351 ff.

29 Solyom (chapter 1).

30 Ibid.

31 Sonnevend, Jakab and Csink (chapter 2).

32 Ibid., p. 34.

33 Solyom (chapter 1) p. 21.

34 Ibid., p. 107.

35 The US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors compliance with the commitments undertaken with the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents.

36 Scheppele (chapter 3). She argues at p. 112 that ‘Under cover of constitutional reform, the Fidesz government gave itself a practically unlimited power’.

37 Iancu (chapter 5) pp. 163-167.

38 The record of the Court, Iancu (chapter 5) argues, is ‘marked … by opportunistic twists and turns in the case law’, p. 168.

39 Tanasoiu (chapter 6) p. 181.

40 Ibid., pp. 180-181 and 186-188.

41 von Bogdandy, A. and others, ‘Reverse Solange – Protecting the Essence of Fundamental Rights against EU Member States’, 49 Common Market Law Review (2012) p. 489 .

42 Hoffmeister (chapter 7) p. 204.

43 See chapters 9, 10 and 13.

44 ECJ 8 March 2011, Case C-34/09, Zambrano.

45 Ibid., para. 42.

46 von Bogdandy and others (chapter 8) p. 242.

47 Ibid., p. 246.

48 Ibid., p. 248.

49 As acknowledged in von Bogdandy and others (chapter 8) p. 246.

50 J. Nergelius (chapter 11) p. 308.

51 Dupré (chapter 14) p. 359.

52 Closa and Kochenov (Introduction) p. 1.

53 Closa (chapter 1) pp. 16-22.

54 Hillion (chapter 3) p. 81.

55 This view will be reflected in the chapter by Scheppele on ‘systemic infringement actions, see infra p. 11.

56 Palombella (chapter 2) p. 48.

57 Ibid., p. 41.

58 Palombella, however, distinguishes this rule of law caveat from the democratic caveat identified by Weiler (see infra) in light of his narrower definition of the Rule of Law as a concept which does not require democracy.

59 Compare Muller’s Copenhagen Commission (chapter 10) with Tuori’s proposal to rely on the Venice Commission (chapter 11).

60 Leading to two Court decisions: see ECJ 6 November 2012, Case C-286/12, Commission v Hungary and ECJ 8 April 2014, Case C-288/12, Commission v Hungary.

61 Batory, A., ‘Defying the Commission: Creative Compliance and Respect for the Rule of Law in the EU’, 94 Public Administration (2016) p. 685 .

62 Scheppele (chapter 5) pp. 125-131.

63 Hirsch Ballin (chapter 6) p. 146.

64 Toggenburg and Grimheden (chapter 7) p. 166.

65 Jakab (chapter 9) p. 195.

66 Muller (chapter 10) p. 211.

67 Ibid., p. 217.

68 Tuori (chapter 11) p. 239.

69 Muller (chapter 10) p. 224. For a similar approach, Editorial, ‘Talking about European Democracy’, 13 EuConst (2017).

70 Blokker (chapter 12).

71 Vachudova (chapter 13).

72 Kochenov (chapter 14) and Weiler (chapter 15).

73 Blokker (chapter 12) p. 254. See more generally Blokker, P., New Democracies in Crises (Routledge 2013).

74 Vachudova (chapter 13) p. 283.

75 Palombella (chapter 2). See also G. Palombella, ‘The Rule of Law as an Institutional Idea’, in Palombella, G. and Morlino, L., Rule of Law and Democracy: Internal and External Issues (Brill 2010).

76 Kochenov (chapter 14) p. 291.

77 Ibid., pp. 294-295.

78 Ibid., p. 312.

79 Weiler (epilogue) p. 314: ‘Democracy and human rights … are part of the ontology of the Rule of Law’.

80 Ibid., p. 322.

81 ‘Those living in glass houses should be careful when throwing stones’, Weiler concludes ibid., p. 326.

82 Closa and Kochenov (Introduction) p. 5.

83 Muller (chapter 10) p. 210.

84 Blokker (chapter 12).

85 Infringement proceedings: Gormley (chapter 4); financial penalties: Wenneras (chapter 5); preliminary references: Broberg (chapter 5).

86 Besselink (chapter 8).

87 von Bogdandy, Antpöhler and Ioannidis (chapter 12); Muller (chapter 13); Jakab (chapter 14).

88 Economic and Monetary Union in Amtenbrink and Repasi (chapter 9); soft law in Stefan (chapter 11).

89 The exception is Gormley’s chapter on infringement proceedings, which reflects on Scheppele’s proposal for systemic actions based on Art. 2 TEU. Ultimately, however, it seems to consider this unrealistic in light of the difficulty in identifying clear obligations the violation of which could be sanctioned by the Court: see Gormley (chapter 4) p. 78.

90 Germany – Hanschel (chapter 15); Belgium – Romainville and Verdussen (chapter 16); Spain – Lopez-Basaguren (chapter 17); and the United States (chapter 18).

91 The European Court of Human Rights – Lambert Abedelgawad (chapter 19); the WTO – Tancredi (chapter 20); the UN Security Council – Couzigou (chapter 21); and regional organizations – Closa (chapter 22).

92 Including the federalisation and deployment of the National Guard, as happened during the desegregation crisis in the 1960s: see Tushnet (chapter 18) p. 324.

93 Closa (chapter 22).

94 Mayer (chapter 23).

95 Ziller (chapter 24).

96 Lazowski (chapter 28).

97 Lachmayer (chapter 25).

98 Szente (chapter 26).

99 Ioannidis (chapter 28).

100 Jakab-Kochenov (Introductory remarks) p. 1.

101 Ibid., pp. 1-2.

102 Kochenov (chapter 1) p. 11.

103 Ibid., p. 26. Here the implicit reference is to the (in)famous para. 192 of ECJ 18 December 2014, Opinion 2/13 where the Court held that under mutual recognition schemes Member States ‘may not check whether that other Member State has actually, in a specific case, observed the fundamental rights guaranteed by the EU’ in applying the presumption of fundamental rights’ compliance at the basis of mutual trust.

104 Kochenov (chapter 1) p. 11.

105 See Hillion, Scheppele, in Closa and Kochenov, supra n. 19, for similar arguments.

106 On the distinction between principles and values, see Habermas, J., Between Facts and Norms – Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (MIT Press 1996).

107 Kochenov, in Closa and Kochenov, supra n. 18, p. 294.

108 Kingsburg, B., ‘The Concept of Compliance as a Function of Competing Conceptions of International Law’, 19 Michigan Journal of International Law (1998) p. 345 .

109 Kochenov (chapter 1) p. 27. See in general Kochenov, D., de Burca, G. and Williams, A., Europe’s Justice Deficit? (Hart Publishing 2015).

110 On which see Besselink (chapter 8).

111 Closa and Kochenov, supra n. 18.

112 Jakab and Kochenov, supra n. 18.

113 Itzcovich (chapter 2) p. 28.

114 Ibid.

115 Ibid., p. 29.

116 Avbelj (chapter 3) pp. 45-49.

117 Ibid., p. 59.

118 Jakab (chapter 14).

119 von Bogdandy, Antpöhler and Ioannidis (chapter 12).

120 Muller (chapter 13). There are two main differences, however: in Muller’s construction, a negative assessment by the Copenhagen Commission would lead directly to the imposition of sanctions on the ‘guilty’ Member State, while the Systemic Deficiency Committee would not have direct or indirect sanctioning powers; second, the Committee would be created within the Commission as an expert group and would not require treaty revision. Unanimity under Art. 352 TFEU would still be required, however.

121 Besselink (chapter 8) pp. 128 and 138-140.

122 Ibid., p. 141.

123 Ibid., p. 142.

124 The EU’s non-discrimination Directives may be the clearest example of this phenomenon.

125 European Commission, Press Release - European Commission acts to preserve the rule of law in Poland, Brussels, 26 July 2017, Doc. IP/17/2161.

126 Approach followed in: the Reverse Solange doctrine; enforcement of the Charter by EU institutions (Hoffmeister), or national courts (Jakab); development of fundamental rights indicators (Toggenburg and Grimheden; Scheinin).

127 See for example Scheppele and Hirsch Ballin.

128 Muller.

129 Besselink.

130 See also Jenne, E.K. and Mudde, C., ‘Hungary’s Illiberal Turn: Can Outsiders Help?’, 23 Journal of Democracy (2012) p. 147 .

131 As analysed in Kelemen, R.D., ‘Europe’s Other Democratic Deficit: National Authoritarianism in Europe’s Democratic Union’, 52 Government and Opposition (2016).

132 US Supreme Court, Luther v Borden 48 U.S. 1 (1849) and Baker v Carr 369 U.S. 186 (1962).

133 F. Timmermans, ‘The European Union and the Rule of Law’ - Keynote speech at Conference on the Rule of Law, Tilburg University, 31 August 2015.

134 Ivi.

* PhD Researcher, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University.

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