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On Matters Constitutional

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    On 13 August 2018, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, an Ukrainian national and the President of the Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) in Poland, was detained at Brussels airport on the basis of a Polish entry ban reported into the Schengen Information System (SIS II). One day later, the Belgian border authorities deported her to Kiev, Ukraine. This case raises questions on the discretionary power of states to use the SIS II for entry bans on ‘unwanted migrants’ and the obligation of executing states, in this case Belgium, to check the legitimacy or proportionality of these other states decisions. Furthermore, this case illustrates the necessity of effective remedies against decisions reported in large-scale databases such as SIS.

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    The EU finds itself in the perverse situation of providing some of the largest transfers of funds precisely to those governments who most prominently thumb their nose at its democratic and rule-of-law norms. The legal debate about this misses the fact that the EU already has a sufficient legal basis to suspend the flow of funds to states in which rule-of-law norms are systematically violated. The real problem to date has not been the lack of adequate legal tools, but the lack of political will on the part of the European Commission to use the tools that already exist.

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    Emotions were high and voices loud while and after the European Parliament adopted its decision to trigger an art. 7 TEU procedure against Hungary this week. Once the dust settles, it might be helpful and disillusioning to look at the possible consequences, the collateral damages and the side-effects of the European Parliament's art. 7 TEU decision.

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    There is truth in the old maxim proclaiming the imperative to try to get to know your enemies well. We outline four key techniques deployed by the autocratic regimes in Poland and Hungary in order to consolidate the constitutional capture and massive assault on European values and take a look at some of the elements of each of the four.

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    On 17 September 2018, in Bucharest, the General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) voted to suspend the membership of the Polish National Judicial Council (KRS) due to growing fears of lack of judicial independence in Poland. It was reported that 100 representatives voted for suspension, 6 were against (the Polish delegation), and 9 abstained. The Bulgarian delegation was among the abstainees, so Western commentators may wonder what the motivation for this position was.

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