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Article

Access_open States of Emergency

Analysing Global Use of Emergency Powers in Response to COVID-19

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords coronavirus, emergency law, emergency powers, autocratization, democratic deconsolidation, state of emergency, rule of law, transparency, accountability, legislative scrutiny
Authors Joelle Grogan
AbstractAuthor's information

    The measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic have been among the most restrictive in contemporary history, and have raised concerns from the perspective of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Building on a study of the legal measures taken in response to pandemic in 74 countries, this article considers the central question of the use of power during an emergency: is it better or worse for democracy and the rule of law to declare an emergency or, instead, to rely on ordinary powers and legislative frameworks? The article then considers whether the use of powers (ordinary or emergency) in response to the pandemic emergency has ultimately been a cause, or catalyst of, further democratic deconsolidation. It concludes on a note of optimism: an emerging best practice of governmental response reliant on public trust bolstered by rationalized and transparent decision-making and the capacity to adapt, change and reform measures and policies.


Joelle Grogan
Dr. Joelle Grogan is Senior Lecturer in Law, Middlesex University London.
Article

Emergency Measures in Response to the Coronavirus Crisis and Parliamentary Oversight in the EU Member States

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords states of emergency, parliamentary oversight, health crisis, Covid-19, European Union Member States
Authors Maria Diaz Crego and Silvia Kotanidis
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Covid-19 pandemic has become a true stress test for the legal systems of the worst hit countries. Faced with a health crisis situation, many national governments have become the protagonists in the adoption of difficult measures severely restricting their citizens fundamental rights to the detriment of the powers usually entrusted to the national parliaments. This article examines the normative response of the 27 European Union Member States during the “first wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic, a period that runs from the declaration of a pandemic (March 2020) to mid-June 2020. The intention of the authors was to describe the legal and constitutional mechanisms activated in order to contain the pandemic, focusing on the role of national parliaments in the management of the crisis. This article explores also the degree to which national parliaments have been involved and could exercise parliamentary oversight over the normative measures used by the executive to contain the pandemic in the EU-27.


Maria Diaz Crego
Maria Diaza Crego is a Policy Analyst, European Parliament Research Service, European Parliament.

Silvia Kotanidis
Silvia Kotanidis is a Policy Analyst, European Parliament Research Service, European Parliament. The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) is the internal research service and think tank of the European Parliament. This research paper derives from a paper originally published on 4 December 2020 by the EPRS as background material to assist Members and staff of the European Parliament in their parliamentary work. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of its authors and any opinions expressed therein should not be taken to represent an official position of the European Parliament.
Article

Governments as Covid-19 Lawmakers in France, Italy and Spain

Continuity or Discontinuity

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords Covid-19, emergency legislation, executive lawmaking, parliaments, decree-laws and ordinances
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Executive dominance in Covid-19 lawmaking has been a major trend worldwide. Governments have leveraged emergency prerogatives to boost their legislative powers, often sidelining the role of parliaments. The impact of executive lawmaking on fundamental liberties has been unprecedented. However, government’s capacity to exercise full legislative powers is not absolutely new to many European countries.
    This trend is analysed in the article comparing practices in the pandemic and in normal times, not specifically related to a state of emergency. To this end, three countries have been selected because of their constitutional clauses allotting lawmaking powers to the government even outside of emergency situations. This refers to the decree-laws in Italy and Spain and the ordonnances in France. The question addressed is whether there are relevant differences in the use made of these mechanisms during the pandemic.
    The results of this comparative analysis demonstrate that there is much continuity in the executive’s reliance on these mechanisms. However, discontinuity may be detected on the ground of the exceptional impact produced on constitutional rights and on the substantive values that legislation should protect. Therefore, from the perspective of the rollback of the emergency legislation, the role of parliaments, based on the core difference in the democratic status between lawmaking and legislation, turns out to be crucial.


Elena Griglio
Elena Griglio is Senior Parliamentary Official of the Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor at LUISS University, Rome.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny as a Form of Executive Oversight

Tools and Practices in Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords scrutiny of law enforcement, ex-post impact assessment, parliamentary oversight of the executive, post-legislative scrutiny
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Parliaments’ engagement in post-legislative scrutiny can be considered either as an extension of the legislative function or within the framework of the oversight of the executive. This article makes use of the latter view to assess how parliaments in Europe approach post-legislative scrutiny and to which extent this function can be regarded as a form of executive oversight. Although rules and practices of parliaments in this realm are remarkably heterogeneous, the focus on some selected parliaments (Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, and the European Parliament) reveals three different conceptual categories. In the ‘basic’ approach (passive scrutinizers), parliaments limit their role solely to the assessment of the ex-post scrutiny performed by the government and external agencies. Differently, parliaments willing to engage in a more proactive approach might choose either to act on an informal basis, establishing ad hoc research/evaluation administrative units (informal scrutinizers) or to address post-legislative scrutiny in a formal and highly institutionalized manner (formal scrutinizers). As a matter of fact, the practise of parliaments often combines characters of different categories. While in all of these approaches post-legislative scrutiny shows potential for executive oversight, only the third can potentially lead to a kind of ‘hard’ oversight.


Elena Griglio
Dr Elena Griglio is a Senior Parliamentary Official, Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor, Luiss Guido Carli University.
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