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Election of the European Ombudsman

10-12-2019

In December, the European Parliament is set to elect the European Ombudsman for the new parliamentary term following a public hearing of the candidates by the Committee on Petitions (PETI). Five candidates are running: Giuseppe Fortunato (Italy), Ombudsman of the Campania Region; Julia Laffranque (Estonia), judge at the European Court of Human Rights; Nils Muižnieks (Latvia), former Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe; Emily O'Reilly (Ireland), the incumbent Ombudsman (since 2014 ...

In December, the European Parliament is set to elect the European Ombudsman for the new parliamentary term following a public hearing of the candidates by the Committee on Petitions (PETI). Five candidates are running: Giuseppe Fortunato (Italy), Ombudsman of the Campania Region; Julia Laffranque (Estonia), judge at the European Court of Human Rights; Nils Muižnieks (Latvia), former Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe; Emily O'Reilly (Ireland), the incumbent Ombudsman (since 2014); and Cecilia Wikström (Sweden), former MEP and Chair of the PETI committee.

The European Council under the Lisbon Treaty: How has the institution evolved since 2009?

04-12-2019

On 1 December 2009, with the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council became a formal EU institution. Ten years later, the European Council is seen by many as representing the centre of gravity of the EU's institutional framework. However, was this development purely the result of the changes to the Treaties made with Lisbon or did it happen naturally over time? This study analyses both the formal changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty and the incremental evolution resulting ...

On 1 December 2009, with the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council became a formal EU institution. Ten years later, the European Council is seen by many as representing the centre of gravity of the EU's institutional framework. However, was this development purely the result of the changes to the Treaties made with Lisbon or did it happen naturally over time? This study analyses both the formal changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty and the incremental evolution resulting from the institution's day-to-day practice, including the European Council's behaviour during the various crises of the last decade. It outlines the responsibilities envisaged for the European Council in the Treaty and the informal roles it has taken on over time. It explores the extent to which the Lisbon Treaty changed the functioning of the European Council, and how EU leaders themselves tried to optimise the working methods of their institution. Special attention is to the new position of full-time European Council President and the way in which the first two incumbents have interpreted their office. The analysis concludes that, while the EU’s various crises strongly contributed to the rise of the European Council, the Lisbon Treaty united two previously separate dimensions – the political and the legal, formally adding new competences to the role already performed by the EU Heads of State or Government. Many of these competences have yet to be fully exploited and represent a rich seam of unused Treaty potential for the future.

Preparing the Conference on the Future of Europe

03-12-2019

After the many debates and declarations of principles on the future of Europe of recent years, the time for a more structured reflection on the future of Europe's development has arrived. The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to establish a Conference on the Future of Europe, in an effort to give new impulse to European construction and bring Europe closer to citizens. At this stage, details of this initiative are still up for discussion. For Dubravka Šuica ...

After the many debates and declarations of principles on the future of Europe of recent years, the time for a more structured reflection on the future of Europe's development has arrived. The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to establish a Conference on the Future of Europe, in an effort to give new impulse to European construction and bring Europe closer to citizens. At this stage, details of this initiative are still up for discussion. For Dubravka Šuica, the Commissioner who will take charge of the process, the inclusion of all citizens' voices will be an essential characteristic of the Conference. However, how to ensure that European citizens are properly represented remains to be clarified. Preparation of the Conference, in von der Leyen's approach, will follow three steps: first, the elaboration of the concept, structure, timing and scope with Parliament and Council; then, design of a means to ensure that citizens participate as much as possible, including by fostering online participation for younger people; and last, making sure that appropriate follow-up is provided to the actions agreed by the Conference. The Parliament has created a working group to contribute to the design of the Conference, in particular in respect of its structure, with a view to a vote in plenary. Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) has also launched discussions, confirming the eagerness of Parliament and its political bodies to play an active part from the beginning of this process. The Conference on the Future of Europe should be an excellent opportunity to engage in more structured debate, with the intention to find concrete proposals to improve the way in which the EU works not only in terms of institutional dynamics, but also of its policies. Some have however cautioned that the initiative needs to be carried out with the utmost care, in particular on the follow-up to be given to its outcomes, so that it can remain a meaningful endeavour.

Commitments made at the hearing of Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ, Vice-President-designate - Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight

22-11-2019

This briefing includes a series of quotes, which make reference to the oral commitments made during the hearing of Vice-President-designate for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič.

This briefing includes a series of quotes, which make reference to the oral commitments made during the hearing of Vice-President-designate for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič.

Rule of law [What Think Tanks are thinking]

15-11-2019

The European Union is a community of law, with the rule of law being a basic value since the Union's inception. The President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has confirmed a strong commitment to uphold the rule of law, which remains a shared responsibility for all EU institutions and all Member States. However, developments in several EU Member States – for example Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Malta – have raised concerns over how far this commitment is actualy being ...

The European Union is a community of law, with the rule of law being a basic value since the Union's inception. The President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has confirmed a strong commitment to uphold the rule of law, which remains a shared responsibility for all EU institutions and all Member States. However, developments in several EU Member States – for example Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Malta – have raised concerns over how far this commitment is actualy being observed in practice, sparking a lively debate across the EU and action in the EU institutions themselves. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on the rule of law debate.

La libertà di espressione, una prospettiva di diritto comparato - Unione europea

13-11-2019

Il presente studio fa parte di un progetto più ampio il cui scopo è quello di analizzare, nella prospettiva del diritto comparato, la libertà di espressione in diversi ordinamenti giuridici. Le pagine descrivono, in relazione all'Unione europea e in relazione all'oggetto dello studio, la legislazione in vigore, la giurisprudenza più significativa e il concetto di libertà di espressione con i suoi limiti attuali e futuri, per concludersi con alcune considerazioni riguardo a possibili soluzioni alle ...

Il presente studio fa parte di un progetto più ampio il cui scopo è quello di analizzare, nella prospettiva del diritto comparato, la libertà di espressione in diversi ordinamenti giuridici. Le pagine descrivono, in relazione all'Unione europea e in relazione all'oggetto dello studio, la legislazione in vigore, la giurisprudenza più significativa e il concetto di libertà di espressione con i suoi limiti attuali e futuri, per concludersi con alcune considerazioni riguardo a possibili soluzioni alle sfide future. Verranno in particolare analizzate le varie forme in cui si articola la libertà di espressione (libertà di opinione, libertà di parola, libertà di comunicare o ricevere informazioni o idee), mettendo in luce la necessità di individuare, da parte delle istituzioni dell’Unione europea, nuove forme di tutela, nel contemperamento dei diversi interessi coinvolti, anche alla luce della rapida evoluzione tecnologica che ha interessato i mezzi di comunicazione e del sempre più diffuso utilizzo dei social media.

Autor extern

Questo studio è stato scritto dal Prof. Dr. Vincenzo Salvatore, Università degli Studi dell’Insubria, Varese (Italia), su richiesta della Unità Biblioteca di diritto comparato, Direzione generale dei Servizi di ricerca parlamentare (DG EPRS), Segretariato generale del Parlamento europeo.

Action for annulment of an EU act

08-11-2019

An action for annulment is a legal procedure before the Court of Justice that guarantees the conformity of EU legislative acts, regulatory acts and individual acts with the superior rules of the EU legal order. An action can be brought within two months of the publication or notification of the contested measure. Applicants are divided into three categories: privileged, semi-privileged and non-privileged. Privileged applicants – the Member States, Parliament, Commission and Council – may bring an ...

An action for annulment is a legal procedure before the Court of Justice that guarantees the conformity of EU legislative acts, regulatory acts and individual acts with the superior rules of the EU legal order. An action can be brought within two months of the publication or notification of the contested measure. Applicants are divided into three categories: privileged, semi-privileged and non-privileged. Privileged applicants – the Member States, Parliament, Commission and Council – may bring an action for annulment purely in the interests of legality, without proving any particular interest. Semi-privileged applicants – comprising the European Committee of the Regions, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors – may bring an action for annulment only to protect their own prerogatives. Finally, non-privileged applicants, comprising all natural and legal persons, including regional or local governments, may bring an action for annulment only if they prove that the contested act infringes upon their interests. More specifically, they may bring an action against an act addressed to them, or – if it is not addressed to them – if it is of direct and individual concern to them, as well as against a regulatory act that is of direct concern to them and does not entail implementing measures. The Treaty provides five grounds for annulment, i.e. reasons for which the Court may declare an EU act to be null and void. These are lack of competence; infringement of an essential procedural requirement; infringement of the Treaties; infringement of a rule relating to the application of the Treaties; and, finally, misuse of powers. If the Court finds the action well founded, it declares the nullity of the contested act, which, in principle, is considered null from the moment of its adoption. However, the Court may decide that some effects of the contested act should, nonetheless, remain in force in the interests of protecting legitimate interests and legal security.

Protecting the rule of law in the EU: Existing mechanisms and possible improvements

06-11-2019

Under the rule of law, governmental powers are limited by law and may be exercised only on the basis of law. An independent judiciary is indispensable to guaranteeing this state of affairs, and appropriate procedures, including legal remedies, must be in place to guarantee that individuals can protect their rights and trigger judicial review of governmental action. The rule of law has been an enduring basic value of the European Union from its inception, and the principles of the rule of law have ...

Under the rule of law, governmental powers are limited by law and may be exercised only on the basis of law. An independent judiciary is indispensable to guaranteeing this state of affairs, and appropriate procedures, including legal remedies, must be in place to guarantee that individuals can protect their rights and trigger judicial review of governmental action. The rule of law has been an enduring basic value of the European Union from its inception, and the principles of the rule of law have been enshrined in the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The EU's very design is based on a shared responsibility for upholding and enforcing EU law, which is the joint task of the ECJ and national courts. The rule of law within the Member States, at least in areas covered by EU law, is therefore indispensable for the proper functioning of the Union and its legal system. Furthermore, the rule of law is one of the EU's fundamental values, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which must be respected by the Member States, including in areas not covered by EU law. Should an EU Member State be suspected of breaching the rule of law, a number of procedures are available to verify this and, if needed, remedy the situation. First of all, there are three 'soft' mechanisms, which do not give rise to legally binding results, yet nevertheless have a certain political resonance and can be seen as a preparatory step towards legal action. These include the transitional 'special cooperation and verification mechanism' (included in the Act of Accession for Bulgaria and Romania), the Commission's rule of law framework, and the Council's annual dialogues on the rule of law. Apart from these 'soft' mechanisms, three legal procedures are also available which, if concluded, can produce legally binding results. First of all, infringement proceedings can be brought by the Commission if the alleged breach could also amount to the violation of a specific rule of EU law. Secondly, national courts from a Member State in which the rule of law is breached may refer preliminary questions to the ECJ, seeking guidance on the interpretation of EU law with a view to assessing the compatibility of national legislation. Finally, the breach of values procedure can be triggered, possibly leading to the suspension of a Member State's membership rights. This briefing has been produced at the request of a member of the European Committee of the Regions, in the framework of the Cooperation Agreement between the Parliament and the Committee.

Global and regional trends

25-10-2019

The European Union’s key institutions held a joint annual conference on 14-15 October entitled ‘Challenges and Choices for Europe.’ The annual event was organised under the auspices of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), which is a framework for cooperation between the administrations of the European Parliament, European Commission, Council of the European Union, European External Action Service and other bodies, to work together on medium- and long-term trends facing or relating ...

The European Union’s key institutions held a joint annual conference on 14-15 October entitled ‘Challenges and Choices for Europe.’ The annual event was organised under the auspices of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), which is a framework for cooperation between the administrations of the European Parliament, European Commission, Council of the European Union, European External Action Service and other bodies, to work together on medium- and long-term trends facing or relating to the European Union.

European Union electoral law: Current situation and historical background

17-10-2019

The European Parliament did not always enjoy the powers and democratic legitimacy it does now. This is clear from a quick glance at how Parliament has evolved. Starting life as an Assembly – a name reminiscent of institutions linked to international diplomacy – with members simply appointed by national parliaments of Member States, it grew into an institution, the European Parliament, directly elected by citizens and now the only one representing EU citizens directly. This transformation has taken ...

The European Parliament did not always enjoy the powers and democratic legitimacy it does now. This is clear from a quick glance at how Parliament has evolved. Starting life as an Assembly – a name reminiscent of institutions linked to international diplomacy – with members simply appointed by national parliaments of Member States, it grew into an institution, the European Parliament, directly elected by citizens and now the only one representing EU citizens directly. This transformation has taken several decades. Despite Parliament's increased role, the current electoral rules remain only partly harmonised, to the extent that there is no uniform electoral process for all Member States. The current situation is that certain fundamental principles are enshrined in the 1976 Electoral Act, but many aspects are regulated by national law. This lack of a uniform electoral process also leads to differences in treatment between EU citizens depending on their country of origin and potentially deprives European elections of a truly European dimension. Several reforms of the EU electoral system have been attempted over the years, but not all have resulted in legislation. The introduction of a transnational constituency in particular is a perennially controversial issue. Some consider it a step towards the genuine 'Europeanisation' of elections, others believe that it could increase the distance between the public and elected representatives. While the co-existence of differing electoral rules under the aegis of common European principles is probably destined to last, the latest reform – adopted in 2018 – will bring in mechanisms designed to increase public participation in the EU political debate and make the appointment of one of the top EU leadership roles, president of the European Commission, more 'political', by means of the Spitzenkandidaten process.

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