According to Article 2 TEU, the European Union is founded on the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Yet, several developments in the Member States threaten this common value basis, especially the value of the rule of law: On some occasions, this is due to the extensions of governmental power, interference with the judiciary or restrictions of media freedom, civil society organisations and academia (Poland, Hungary). In other cases, these values are threatened by endemic corruption (Romania, Bulgaria) or weak institutional capacities (Greece). Despite the existential dimension of this crisis, it is still contested whether and how the EU should respond to these developments.
The Institute has dedicated a large part of its research in EU law to this question. A special focus of the project is on the doctrinal understanding of the crisis and tools to handle it. In 2012, researchers at the Institute developed the “Reverse Solange” approach, a new proposal how to deal with systemic infringements of fundamental rights in EU Member States. Another part of the project develops the concept of systemic deficiency in the rule of law. Building on this, the project addresses the situation in a number of EU Member States, notably Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Greece. The project is conducted in close cooperation with scholars from Hungary, Poland and Greece, especially with the University of Warsaw Faculty of Law and Administration and the ELTE Budapest Faculty of Law.
A new line of research fasts forward and asks: what would happen once the Polish or Hungarian people decides to "throw the scoundrels out"? Any new government that intends to restore its legal system in line with European values will face some crucial obstacles, such as packed courts or constitutional entrenchments. The project assesses how European institutions can enable, support and empower such democratic transitions.
Workshop in cooperation with Adam Bodnar, Pál Sonnevend and Michal Bobek in Heidelberg from 30 June to 1 July 2022
The workshop fasts forward to the next Hungarian and Polish elections. Assuming that a new government is elected and assuming that this new government wants to restore its legal system in line with the European rule of law, we ask: “what comes next”? The program is organized in four parts. The first part aims at a better understanding of what went wrong in the first place. The second part will discuss to facilitate democratic transitions in substance, i.e. how to deal will the finality of judicial decisions, appointments to independent institutions or laws that can only be amended by a super-majority. The third part will discuss processes and institutions that might support these transition processes, such as as the Venice Commission or the European courts.
Workshop in cooperation with the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study) in Berlin from 10 to 11 January 2019
Conference in cooperation with the University of Warsaw in Warsaw from 14 to 15 September 2017
Conference in cooperation with the University of Warsaw in Heidelberg from 28 to 30 June 2017