Bursting the Bubble

Constitutional crisis in Poland: is EU rule of law at risk?

20 April 2016 | by

Since the October 2015 elections in Poland, won by the right-wing eurosceptic party Law and Justice,the country has repeatedly been in the European agenda because of its so called constitutional crisis. The new government has carried out a series of measures regarding the functioning of Poland’s Constitutional Court, which has been declared unconstitutional by the Court itself. These measures are seen as undermining the quality of democratic checks and balances in the country, a perception reinforced by the government’s decision not to take into account the Court’s ruling, refusing to publish its verdicts.

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Let’s not devalue human life in the name of preserving it

18 April 2016 | by

On fighting terrorism, one will always defend the short term of action and the use of hard tools, the other the long term way and the use of soft tools. The solution often stands in between, but one can still find solutions while respecting EU core values such as human and fundamental rights. Democracies have the inalienable right and the inseparable obligation to defend themselves when attacked. Yet, it is important to be reminded that the fight against terrorism is complementary to the respect of human rights and the rule of law. Terrorist organisations, such as IS or others, are a real and a present threat to citizens, their way of living and their standards and values. Such acts destroy life and undermine human dignity, and there is not one argument in favour of international terrorism as terrorist acts have been directed against a range of human rights, specifically: the right to life; rights to non-discrimination, including equal rights for women and girls; freedom of religion and belief; freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association.

However, States fighting international terrorism must comply with human rights and remain within the rule of law. The contrary would be a mistake and an ineffective measure that may help the cause of such terrorist organisations. Continue reading

The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal: A Durable Solution?

11 April 2016 | by

The EU and its leaders have been under increasing pressure to resolve the greatest and most divisive crisis in recent history. Constant images of migrants huddling in the cold of muddy makeshift camps, fighting over food thrown over fences and coming off flimsy boats in tears, shivering from shock, begs the question: how can this possibly be happening in contemporary Europe?

Recent regional elections in Germany have confirmed fears of rising populism in response to Angela Merkel’s open door policy with the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party making substantial gains. According to a recent poll in the Netherlands, Geert Wilder’s anti-Islam Partij Voor de Vrijheid could win an unprecedented 29% of the vote in the next parliamentary elections. Pressure has been mounting on European leaders to both address the deficiency in the humanitarian response to the migrant crisis and to stem the number of migrants entering the EU. It came as a great relief to European leaders – particularly those under the most domestic political pressure – that a deal was struck between the EU and Turkey on the 18th of March, with the unanimous support of the EU’s 28 member states. This is especially true for the German Chancellor who championed the deal which will see all new irregular migrants’ arriving in Greece exchanged for Syrian refugees in Turkey on a one for one basis.

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AmCham EU at forefront for a Transparency Register

8 April 2016 | by

I am amazed by the inability of this Juncker Commission to solve problems, big or small. How do we classify the problem of the Transparency Register? A small issue perhaps, but with big consequences in terms of openness, good governance and democracy.

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Dutch Referendum: a symbolic blow to the establishment & an opportunity for change

7 April 2016 | by

Over the course of the past decade or so, the Netherlands has had two opportunities to snub the EU elites and it has not passed on either of the two: first in 2005 when the country voted against the Lisbon Treaty and then yesterday when the Dutch held a popular vote on the EU-Ukraine trade deal.

In their revamped obstinate enthusiasm to stand up to the European Commission, the Dutch electorate have delivered a symbolic blow to the EU’s plans and to the Dutch government’s reputation.

While only a third of the eligible voters cast their ballot yesterday, almost two-thirds of those voted against the EU-Ukraine association agreement. The referendum is valid (the threshold being 30% of the turnout) but it is not binding. So what does this mean in practice?

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