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Perils of Sloganised Constitutional Concepts Notably that of ‘Judicial Independence’ - David Kosař, Perils of Judicial Self-Government in Transitional Societies (Cambridge University Press 2016) 470pp.

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Associate Professor, Dr. iur, LL.M. (CEU) (Comparative Constitutional Law and Constitutional Theory), Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest,

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1 On Ikea constitutionalism, see Frankenberg Günter, Autorität und Integration. Zur Grammatik von Recht und Verfassung (Frankfurt am Main 2003) and ‘Constitutional Transfer: The Ikea Theory Revisited’, 8(3) International Journal of Constitutional Law (2010) p. 563. On migration of constitutional concepts and ideas, see, e.g., Choudhry Sujit (ed.), The Migration of Constitutional Ideas (Cambridge University Press 2006).

2 Cf. Lindseth Peter L., ‘The Perils of “As If” European Constitutionalism’, 22(5) European Law Journal (2016) p. 696 .

3 Sadurski Wojciech, Constitutionalism and the Enlargement of Europe (Oxford University Press 2012).

4 Smilov Daniel, ‘EU Enlargement and the Constitutional Principle of Judicial Independence’, in Wojciech Sadurski, Adam Czarnota and Martin Krygier (eds.), Spreading Democracy and the Rule of Law? The Impact of EU Enlargement on the Rule of Law, Democracy and Constitutionalism in Post-Communist Legal Orders (Dordrecht Springer 2006) p. 313 at p. 314.

5 See, generally, on the evolution of anticorruption policies as a pillar of the conditionality, Szarek-Mason Patrycja, The European Union’s Fight Against Corruption-The Evolving Policy Towards Member States and Candidate Countries (Cambridge University Press 2010) and Schroth Peter W. and Bostan Ana Daniela, ‘International Constitutional Law and Anti-Corruption Measures in the European Union’s Accession Negotiations – Romania in Comparative Perspective’, 52 American Journal of Comparative Law (2004) p. 625 .

6 See, on this evolution, Bobek Michal and Kosař David, ‘Global Solutions, Local Damages: A Critical Study in Judicial Councils in Central and Eastern Europe’, 15(7) German Law Journal (2014) p. 1257 at p. 1261: ‘The European Commission went even further in the 2007 enlargement wave by basically requiring Romania and Bulgaria to adopt the JC model “as it is”’. See also, on Romanian pre-Accession judicial reforms at the behest of the Commission, Parau Cristina E., ‘The Drive for Judicial Supremacy’, in A. Seibert-Fohr, Judicial Independence in Transition. Beiträge zum ausländischen öffentlichen Recht und Völkerrecht (Springer 2012) p. 619 .

7 On path dependencies, see Prado Mariana Mota, ‘The Paradox of Rule of Law Reforms: How Early Reforms Can Create Obstacles to Future Ones’, 60 University of Toronto Law Journal (2010) p. 555 . I extrapolate the main intuition from Prado’s study, which focuses on the dangers of piecemeal reforms, exemplified with the case of judicial reforms in Brazil. The intuition underlying her argument is valid in this context, insofar as the top-down, cavalier imposition of institutional changes functions as a piecemeal reform of the judiciary (in the sense of inchoate and abrupt, with unforeseeable consequences, albeit the Commission thought of the matter as a one-time deal). Constitutional entrenchment makes its effects significantly more deleterious and places additional hurdles on future adjustments and corrections.

8 At p. 19.

9 At p. 136.

10 Kosař builds on the methodological taxonomy in Hirschl Ran, ‘The Question of Case Selection in Comparative Constitutional Law’, 53 American Journal of Comparative Law (2005) p. 125 . This particular comparative methodology (‘most similar cases’) is described at p. 133-140.

11 At p. 7.

12 For a practical exemplification of such trends, Joined cases C-188/10 and C-189/10 Melki and Abdeli [2010] ECR I-05667. See also, for an insightful theoretical account of the effects of ‘Europeanisation’ on constitutional adjudication and on the upset relationship between constitutional and ordinary courts, Komárek J., ‘National Constitutional Courts in the European Constitutional Democracy’, 12(3) International Journal of Constitutional Law (2014) p. 525 .

13 Voltaire, cited by Kosař at p. 30.

14 At p. 20, 57.

15 At p. 73.

16 Hence, ex ante mechanisms (selection or appointment) and preconditions of accountability (transparency, publication of judgments) are not covered by the definition (p. 51).

17 At p. 76-92.

18 At p. 92-113.

19 At p. 128-129. The author lists five elements, an additional feature in his enumeration being that the council’s attributions ought to be decisional rather than advisory. This addition is, in my view, redundant, once one enumerates attributions and qualifies them as decisional.

20 At p. 130 [emphasis supplied].

21 At p. 138.

22 At p. 125-126.

23 At p. 165-166.

24 At p. 353-354 (2003-2010) and comparative tables for the period 1993-2002, at p. 342-345.

25 At p. 210.

26 At p. 208.

27 At p. 377.

28 At p. 194.

29 At p. 409.

30 See András Sajó’s still current, ‘Universal Rights, Missionaries, Converts, and “Local Savages”’, 6 East European Constitutional Review (1997) p. 44 .

31 At p. 405.

32 At p. 426-427.

33 At p. 404.

34 In Iorgovan A., Odiseea elaborării Constituției-fapte și documente, oameni și caractere; -cronică și explicații, dezvăluiri și meditații (Editura Uniunii Vatra Românească, Târgu Mureș 1998) p. 43 (Nicolae Cochinescu and Teofil Pop).

35 The online platform of the Superior Council of Magistracy ( indicates continuity with the pre-communist body.

36 Dima B. and Tănăsescu E.S., ‘Puterea judecătorească’ (The judicial power), 1 Revista de Drept Public (2013) p. 121 .

37 Decizia Nr. 799 din 17 iunie 2011, M. Of. Nr. 440 din 23.06.2011.

38 Decizia Nr. 80 din 16 februarie 2014, M.Of. Nr. 246 din 07.04.2014.

39 Decizia Nr. 196 din 4 aprilie 2013, M. Of. Nr. 231 din 22.04.2013.

40 A civil society representative (Georgiana Iorgulescu) resigned in 2012, accusing occult cabals (jocuri de culise) and the by-passing of the Plenum by unilateral SCM leadership action. Alina Neagu, ‘Georgiana Iorgulescu, civil society representative, has resigned from SCM’, (23 August 2012), available at <>, visited 10 July 2017. ‘I cannot take part in cabals (jocuri de culise), deferrals, decisions taken without consulting the Plenum and decisions taken unilaterally by the [Superior Council of Magistracy] leadership.’

41 Tănăsescu E.S., ‘Reforma Consiliului Superior al Magistraturii între analogia dreptului şi nimicuri etice’ (The Reform of the Superior Council of the Magistracy between Legal Analogy and Ethical Trifles), 2 Pandectele Române (2011) p. 19 .

44 Hirschl, supra n. 10, p. 144-146.

46 COM (2017) 44 final.

47 COM (2016) 41 final: ‘There continue to be several examples notified to the SCM of attacks in the media and by politicians, and the SCM has had to issue many critical conclusions as a result. But the SCM cannot secure an equivalent level of coverage for its press statements compared to the initial criticism; and beyond this moral support, the SCM offers no financial or legal help for magistrates seeking redress in court.’

* Associate Professor, Dr. iur, LL.M. (CEU) (Comparative Constitutional Law and Constitutional Theory), Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, .

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European Constitutional Law Review
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