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Independent courts, judges who will withstand political pressure and rule against the will of the government if the law demands it. It’s called the rule of law, and as long as you have it, you rarely notice it. If you don’t have it, you’ll know what you miss – but then it’s too late. We need to talk about the rule of law because in a growing number of EU member states, the rule of law is already severely damaged - and we will all feel the consequences. We need to talk about the rule of law a ...
 
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As our podcast comes to an end, the year and the German presidency of the European Council do too. One of the foremost projects of the German presidency has been to link EU funding and compliance with rule of law standards. The mechanism is going to be a part of the next long-term budget of the Union, starting from 2021 – that is, if Hungary and Po…
 
The European Court of Justice has been in the middle of the European rule of law crisis for the last couple of years – and it has called out rule of law violations especially in Hungary and Poland multiple times. But the Court can’t defend the rule of law in the European Union on its own, and it needs institutional partners in this struggle. For ex…
 
Europe is larger than the EU – and a European framework aiming at preserving basic rights and freedoms as well as rule of law safeguards has been in place for 70 years precisely this November: the European Convention on Human Rights. Today, we take a deeper look at the Convention and at the institutions that work to enforce it: The European Court o…
 
We need to talk about refugees and migration law. In discussions about these topics, refugees and migration policy are often being treated as the other of politics and policy. But the way states treat those seeking refuge and asylum on their territory is fundamentally a rule of law issue, and actually says a lot about the current state of the rule …
 
We need to talk about the Penal System. In European Criminal Law, there largely is consensus that criminal law should be ultima ratio, that is, the last resort when the law is applied and executed. However, criminal law and the penal system at large have also proven to be an efficient way to silence political opponents and citizens turning against …
 
We need to talk about legal education. As the last couple of episodes of our podcast have demonstrated, preserving the rule of law depends to a large quantity on people working in legal professions. What prosecutors, judges, attorneys, and, to a large degree, people working in the executive branch have in common, is a law degree. This means that we…
 
Attorneys are not on everyone’s mind when they think about the rule of law. The European Commission gave a prime example for that when it remained conspicuously silent about the role of lawyers in its recent Rule of Law report. Yet, attorneys play just as important a role in preserving the rule of law as other parts of the judicial system do. What’…
 
Public prosecutors decide whether a criminal suspect is investigated. Or not. They decide whether a person is indicted and whether there will be a trial. Or not. If you control them, you can make your opponents' life miserable and let your friends run free. On the other hand: If prosecutors don't have to answer to politics at all, who will hold the…
 
Courts don't just exist. They are shaped by organisational and procedural rules which are enacted by the legislative – and can be abused accordingly. Court packing schemes and tampering with the retirement age of judges are just two examples of such abuse. On the other hand, sometimes the judiciary is indeed in need of reform, e.g. when they no lon…
 
Judges, as all other people, sometimes misbehave. In that case, a procedure needs to be in place to examine if a sanction is required and, if so, to impose it. Disciplinary procedures, however, can be misused by an authoritarian government as blunt yet efficient tool to force the independent judiciary into submission. The most striking case in poin…
 
It's easy to agree that judicial independence is important – but who gets to be a part of the judiciary, who gets promoted to which court and who enters the highest ranks is a decision that has to be taken by someone, and a lot depends on who that someone is. Controlling judicial nominations is one of the key elements in all authoritarian takeover …
 
Constitutional courts are under attack in many countries in Europe and beyond. Why? And why now? What can be done to protect them, and what are the most important conditions for constitutional courts to function? These are the questions we discuss in the first episode of our new podcast with three guests, two of them former constitutional judges wi…
 
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