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Conference Reports

Conference on the Bindingness of EU Soft Law

Report on the ‘Conference on the Bindingness of EU Soft Law’ Organized by Pázmány Péter Catholic University, 9 April 2021, Budapest

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords conference report, soft law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, bindingness, Grimaldi
Authors Vivien Köböl-Benda
AbstractAuthor's information

    The online ‘Conference on the bindingness of EU soft law’ was organized by the Ereky Public Law Research Center at Pázmány Péter Catholic University (Hungary), the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), and the Portsmouth Law School (United Kingdom) on 9 April 2021. The presentations described EU soft law instruments’ legal effect on EU institutions and the Member States. The soft law instruments of different policy fields were also examined, including the analysis of the language of EU soft law.


Vivien Köböl-Benda
Vivien Köböl-Benda: PhD student, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Public Health Emergency: National, European and International Law Responses

Defining the Common European Way of Life

Exploring the Concept of Europeanness

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords European identity, Common European Way of Life, coronavirus, European citizenship, Hungary, enlargement policy, Europeanness
Authors Lilla Nóra Kiss and Orsolya Johanna Sziebig
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article focuses on the interpretation of the European Way of Life and the concept of Europeanness. Ursula von der Leyen determined the Promotion of the European Way of Life as a priority of the 2019-2024 Commission. The purpose behind this was to strengthen European democracy and place the citizens into the center of decision-making. The article examines the role of European identity, European citizenship and those historical-traditional conditions that make our way of life ‘common’. The Common European Way of Life may be defined as a value system based on the established legal basis of EU citizenship that can be grasped in the pursuit of common principles and the exercise of rights guaranteed to all EU citizens, limited only under exceptional circumstances and ensuring socio-economic convergence. The article covers general conceptual issues but also focuses on the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19. Lastly, the relevant aspects of enlargement policy are also explored.


Lilla Nóra Kiss
Lilla Nóra Kiss: Visiting Scholar at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, Virginia, US.

Orsolya Johanna Sziebig
Orsolya Johanna Sziebig: senior lecturer, University of Szeged.
Developments in International Law

The Evolution of Content-Related Offences and Their Investigation During the First 20 Years of the Cybercrime Convention

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords cybercrime, content-related offence, cyberbullying, privacy, wiretapping
Authors Kinga Sorbán
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Convention on Cybercrime otherwise known as the Budapest Convention was a complex, pioneering instrument addressing cross-border computer crimes in the wake of the 21st century. As the first international treaty aiming to tackle new threats emerging from the cyberspace, the Convention signed in 2001 certainly influenced national regulators and law enforcement over many years. Two decades have passed since 2001 and the Internet era has undergone previously unpredictable changes, as web 2.0 services started to thrive. Even though the Convention can be considered a landmark in international legislation, after 20 years one must eventually assess how well it stood the test of time and whether it still has relevance. This article has no smaller goal but to evaluate the evolution of content-related cybercrimes and try to the question whether the Convention is still fit to tackle contemporary issues or rather, is outdated and ready to retire.


Kinga Sorbán
Kinga Sorbán: junior research fellow, National University of Public Service, Budapest.
Public Health Emergency: National, European and International Law Responses

On the Constitutionality of the Punishment of Scaremongering in the Hungarian Legal System

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords scaremongering, clear and present danger, COVID-19 pandemic, freedom of expression, Constitutional Court of Hungary
Authors András Koltay
AbstractAuthor's information

    Scaremongering criminalized as a limitation to freedom of speech in Hungarian law. In lack of relevant case-law, free speech commentators rarely discussed the provision until the Government took action to step up the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ensuing amendment of the Criminal Code in Spring 2020 brought the subject back to the forefront of public debate. The article analyses the constitutional issues related to the criminalization of scaremongering, taking the two available Constitutional Court decisions rendered in this subject as guideline. Though the newly introduced legislation attracted widespread criticism in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe, a thorough examination of the new statutory elements makes it clear that public debate and critical opinions may not be stifled by prosecuting individuals for scaremongering. Although the applicable standard cannot yet be determined with full accuracy, the Constitutional Court’s decisions and relevant academic analysis resolve the main issues in order to protect freedom of expression, while the clarification of further details remains a matter for the case-law.


András Koltay
András Koltay: rector and professor of law, University of Public Service, Budapest; professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Public Health Emergency: National, European and International Law Responses

European State Aid Rules in Times of Pandemic

Distorting Competition Between European Airlines?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords state aid, air transport, airlines, COVID-19 pandemic, Ryanair
Authors Mónika Papp
AbstractAuthor's information

    The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate and profound impact on mobility and, more specifically, on air passenger transport: airlines were quickly stranded, and the Member States granted aid to air carriers subject to specific eligibility criteria. The Commission reacted swiftly to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and adopted its Temporary Framework under which vast amounts could be disbursed to market operators. The most controversial eligibility condition set by the Member States is the holding of a national license. This article’s research questions are, first, to explore the conditions under which Member States can grant large amounts of state aid to airlines, and second, to assess whether the requirement to hold a national license is compatible with EU law. By addressing these issues, this article seeks to improve our understanding of EU law’s capacity to tackle distortions of competition.


Mónika Papp
Mónika Papp: research fellow, Centre for Social Sciences, Eötvös Loránd Research Network, Budapest; senior lecturer, ELTE Law School, Budapest.
Public Health Emergency: National, European and International Law Responses

State Aid in the Times of COVID-19 Pandemic

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords temporary framework, competition law, state aid, COVID-19, European Commission
Authors Katalin Gombos and Anikó Edit Szűcs
AbstractAuthor's information

    COVID-19 caused serious turbulence in the economy worldwide, severely damaging certain industries, while generating extra revenues for others. In order to be able to continue business as usual following the current crises there is a need to provide state aid to sectors and companies which could not have been imaginable previously. The EU has reacted extremely speedily. Under the Temporary Framework issued by the European Commission at the beginning of the pandemic a significant number of state aids has been approved. Although the Temporary Framework was adapted very quickly, the transitional rules ensure that state aids do not interfere with the functioning of the internal market except to the extent a necessary and proportionate. The present article highlights the various legal bases which can be invoked in the present COVID-19 pandemic situation for providing state aid, includes a comprehensive summary of every single state aid notified to the European Commission with respect to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and presents numerous examples from the practice.


Katalin Gombos
Katalin Gombos: associate professor of law, National University of Public Service, Budapest; judge, Curia of Hungary, Budapest.

Anikó Edit Szűcs
Anikó Edit Szűcs: assistant lecturer, National University of Public Service, Budapest; associate, Bird & Bird International Law Firm, Budapest.
Editorial

Editorial Comments: COVID-19 – EU Citizenship and the Right to Free Movement in a Public Health Crisis

Foreword to Vol. 9 (2021) of the Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Authors Laura Gyeney
Author's information

Laura Gyeney
Laura Gyeney: editor; associate professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Public Health Emergency: National, European and International Law Responses

Support for Families

A Way to Tackle COVID-19 and Its Implications in Hungary

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords family, children, vulnerable groups, social protection, housing benefits, labor market
Authors Éva Gellérné Lukács
AbstractAuthor's information

    COVID-19 poses a huge challenge for families and children; their exposure to economic, social and mental hardship is considerable and is confirmed by several studies. The pandemic pushes governments to allocate resources to the economy, but it is equally important to invest in the future by supporting families and children. The article outlines general tendencies in the EU and reflects on Hungarian measures in this field. During the first, second and third waves of COVID-19, a wide range of measures were introduced in Hungary. By extending the eligibility periods of family benefits for families with small children (both social insurance contribution-based and universal benefits) approximately 40,000 families (households) were covered. During the first and second COVID-19 waves, not only did the government extend benefit eligibility, but it also announced several new or renewed measures related to cash benefits and housing for families with at least one economically active parent. During the third wave eligibility periods of family benefits have again been extended. On the other hand, the unemployment benefit system remained intact, labor market pitfalls were addressed by providing wage subsidies.


Éva Gellérné Lukács
Éva Gellérné Lukács: senior lecturer, ELTE Law School, Budapest; external expert, Kopp Mária Institute for Demography and Families, Budapest.
Article

Opposition in Times of COVID-19 – To Support or Not to Support?

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords minority government, rally-around-the-flag, COVID-19, mainstream parties, challenger parties, opposition, party goals
Authors Britt Vande Walle, Wouter Wolfs and Steven Van Hecke
AbstractAuthor's information

    COVID-19 has hit many countries all over the world, and its impact on (party) politics has been undeniable. This crisis situation functions as an opportunity structure incentivising opposition forces to support the government. Not much is known about what drives opposition parties to (not) support the government in crisis situations. This article integrates the literature on rally-around-the-flag, political opportunity structures, party types and party goals. More specifically, we focus on the behaviour of opposition parties towards the government’s crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We analyse whether and how the party type influences the position of the party vis-à-vis the governmental coalition, focusing on the case of Belgium. We categorise the seven opposition parties in Belgium as challenger or mainstream parties and explain their behaviour on the basis of policy-, office- or vote-seeking motives. Our analysis is based on party voting behaviour, elite interviews and an analysis of the main plenary debates.


Britt Vande Walle
Britt Vande Walle is PhD Researcher at the KU Leuven Public Governance Instituted, funded by a FWO fellowship ‘Fundamental Research’. Her research focuses on comparative politics, political parties, and political party think tanks. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9594-9897.

Wouter Wolfs
Wouter Wolfs is Senior Researcher at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. His research interests include the European Union, political finance, legislative studies and political parties. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6214-5972.

Steven Van Hecke
Steven Van Hecke is Associate Professor in Comparative and EU Politics at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. His research focuses on Europarties, EU institutions and European integration history. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0215-5463.
Article

Performing the COVID-19 Crisis in Flemish Populist Radical-Right Discourse

A Case Study of Vlaams Belang’s Coronablunderboek

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords populism, COVID-19, crisis, discourse
Authors Jens Meijen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In June 2020, the Flemish populist radical right party Vlaams Belang (VB) published the Corona Blunder Book (CBB; Coronablunderboek in Dutch), detailing the government’s mistakes in handling the COVID-19 crisis. Populist parties can ‘perform’ crisis by emphasising the mistakes made by opponents (Moffitt, 2015) and may use a specifically populist discursive style, consisting largely of aggressive and sarcastic language (Brubaker, 2017). This paper takes the CBB as a case study in the populist performance of crisis and the populist style, finding that the book is, first, a clear example of populist ‘everyman’ stylistics and the performance of crisis, and, second, that VB uses the book to shift the COVID-19 crisis from a public health crisis to a crisis of governance, seeking to blame Belgium’s federal structure for the government’s alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and hence arguing for Flemish independence, one of the party’s main agenda points.


Jens Meijen
Jens Meijen is a PhD candidate at Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) at KU Leuven. His research focuses on nationalism, populism, and diplomacy.
Article

The Praise for a ‘Caretaker’ Leader

Gendered Press Coverage of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in a COVID-19 Context

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords political leadership, crisis, care, Belgium, gendered media coverage
Authors Clémence Deswert
AbstractAuthor's information

    Studies on media coverage of women politicians have underlined how the media contribute to the association of the figure of the political leader with masculinity. Yet, the social construction of leadership seems to evolve towards a more ‘femininity-inclusive’ definition. Research on the ‘glass cliff’ phenomenon suggests that stereotypical feminine attributes might be expected from political leaders in a time of crisis. We investigated the gendered construction of political leadership in the press in a COVID-19 context through the case of former Belgian Prime minister Sophie Wilmès. In line with the ‘think crisis-think female’ association, our discourse analysis shows an appreciation of traditionally feminine traits, and particularly care-related qualities, in the evaluation of what a ‘good’ leader should be in pandemic times, although some characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity are still considered valuable assets in the journalistic portrayal of Wilmès’ leadership.


Clémence Deswert
Clémence Deswert is a PhD candidate at the Political Science Department of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her research interests include political communication and political representation of women. Declaration of interests: I confirm that this article was not submitted to or publicised in another journal. No conflict of interest exists.

    On 22 May 2020, fifty-two members of the Hungarian parliament petitioned the Constitutional Court which was requested to establish the unconstitutionality of Section 6(4) of Government Decree no. 47/2020 (III. 18), its conflict with an international treaty and to annul it with retroactive effect to the date of its entry into force. According to Section 6(4) of the Decree “in a separate agreement, the employee and the employer may depart from the provisions of the Labour Code” (i.e. ‘absolute dispositivity’). The petition, among other things, alleged the violation of equal treatment and the right to rest and leisure. The Constitutional Court rejected the motion to establish the unconstitutionality of Section 6(4) and its annulment, since it was repealed on 18 June 2020. The Constitutional Court may, as a general rule, examine the unconstitutionality of the legislation in force, however it was no longer possible to examine the challenged piece of legislation in the framework of a posterior abstract norm control.


Kristof Toth
Kristof Toth is PhD student at the Karoli Gaspar University in Hungary.
Article

Democratic Scrutiny of COVID-19 Laws

Are Parliamentary Committees Up to the Job?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2021
Keywords parliament, scrutiny, committees, COVID-19, rights, legislation, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom
Authors Sarah Moulds
AbstractAuthor's information

    In response to the complex and potentially devastating threat posed by COVID-19, parliaments around the world have transferred unprecedented powers to executive governments and their agencies (Edgar, ‘Law-making in a Crisis’, 2020), often with the full support of the communities they represent. These laws were passed within days, sometimes hours, with limited safeguards and a heavy reliance on sunsetting provisions, some of which are dependent on the pandemic being officially called to an end. While parliaments themselves have suspended or reduced sitting days (Twomey, ‘A Virtual Australian Parliament is Possible’, 2020), parliamentary committees have emerged as the forum of choice when it comes to providing some form of parliamentary oversight of executive action.
    This article aims to evaluate the capacity of parliamentary committees established within the Australian, New Zealand (NZ) and United Kingdom (UK) parliaments to effectively scrutinize and review governments’ responses to COVID-19. It does this by comparing the legal framework underpinning the relevant committees in each jurisdiction and examining the work of these committees with a view to offering some preliminary views as to their impact on the shape of the laws made in response to COVID-19 in those jurisdictions. The article concludes by offering some preliminary observations about the scrutiny capacity of the parliamentary committee systems in Australia, NZ and the UK in the context of emergency lawmaking and flags areas for further research, evaluation and reform.


Sarah Moulds
Dr. Sarah Moulds, University of South Australia.
Article

Access_open Approach with Caution

Sunset Clauses as Safeguards of Democracy?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2021
Keywords emergency legislation, sunset clauses, post-legislative review, COVID-19
Authors Sean Molloy
AbstractAuthor's information

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders across the globe scrambled to adopt emergency legislation. Amongst other things, these measures gave significant powers to governments in order to curb the spreading of a virus, which has shown itself to be both indiscriminate and deadly. Nevertheless, exceptional measures, however necessary in the short term, can have adverse consequences both on the enjoyment of human rights specifically and democracy more generally. Not only are liberties severely restricted and normal processes of democratic deliberation and accountability constrained but the duration of exceptional powers is also often unclear. One potentially ameliorating measure is the use of sunset clauses: dispositions that determine the expiry of a law or regulation within a predetermined period unless a review determines that there are reasons for extension. The article argues that without effective review processes, far from safeguarding rights and limiting state power, sunset clauses can be utilized to facilitate the transferring of emergency powers whilst failing to guarantee the very problems of normalized emergency they are included to prevent. Thus, sunset clauses and the review processes that attach to them should be approached with caution.


Sean Molloy
Dr Sean Molloy is a Lecturer in Law at Northumbria University.
Article

What’s Good for ODR?

AI or AI

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Augmented Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, ODR
Authors Graham Ross
AbstractAuthor's information

    Whilst the coronavirus epidemic saw mediators turn to web conferencing in numbers to ensure mediations continued to take place, it is believed that the rate at which individual mediators, as opposed to organizations handling volumes of disputes, began to use online dispute resolution (ODR)-specific tools and platforms remained comparatively slow. Mediators may have felt that, in using web conferencing, they had made the move to ODR. Another hurdle standing in the way of generating confidence in ODR-specific tools is that exciting developments used the less were powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and yet mention of AI and algorithms would create its own barrier, in no small part due to examples of shortcomings with AI and algorithms outside of ODR. The writer feels that the future lies in developments in ODR that benefit from AI. However that is less the traditional meaning of the acronym being Artificial Intelligence but more as Augmented Intelligence. The paper explains the difference with Artificial Intelligence leaving the machine in control whilst Augmented Intelligence retains control and decision-making with the human but assisted by the machine to a degree or in a format not possible by the human alone. The paper highlights examples of two ODR systems applying Augmented Intelligence.


Graham Ross
Graham Ross is a UK lawyer and mediator with over 20 years of experience in IT and the law. Graham is the author of lthe original QUILL egal application software (accounts and time recording) and the founder of LAWTEL, the popular webbased legal information update service. Graham co-founded the first ODR service in the UK, WeCanSettle, designing the blind bidding software at the heart of the system. Graham subsequently founded TheMediationRoom.com, for whom he designed their online mediation platform. Graham speaks regularly at international conferences on the application of technology to ADR. Graham was host of the 5th International Conference on Online Dispute Resolution held in Liverpool, UK, in 2007 and has organised two other ODR conferences. Graham was a member of the EMCOD project which created a tool for the European Union for the measurement of justice through ODR. Graham was a member of the UK Civil Justice Council’s Advisory Group on Online Dispute Resolution, whose recommendations led to the creation of an online court for small claims. Graham is a Board Member of ICODR. Graham is also a leading trainer in ODR having created the accredited distance training course at www.ODRtraining.com.
Article

Why an atmosphere of transhumanism undermines green restorative justice concepts and tenets

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords green restorative justice, transhumanism, technological progress, animals, bioethics
Authors Gema Varona
AbstractAuthor's information

    Arising from the notions of green criminology and green victimology, green restorative justice can be defined as a restorative justice focused on environmental harm. Harm in this case is understood as criminalised and non-criminalised, and as individual and collective behaviours damaging the ecosystems and the existence of human and non-human beings. Impacts of environmental harm affect health, economic, social and cultural dimensions, and will be experienced in the short, medium and long term. Within this framework, after linking restorative justice to green criminology and green victimology, I will argue that the current weight of the cultural and social movement of transhumanism constitutes an obstacle to the development of restorative justice in this field. The reason is that it fosters individual narcissism, together with the idea of an absence of limits in what is considered technological progress. This progress is seen as inevitable and good per se, and promotes the perception of a lack of social and moral accountability. This reasoning will lead to some final reflections on how restorative justice has to constantly reinvent itself in order to keep creating a critical and inclusive justice of ‘otherness’. By doing so, restorative justice must join the current interdisciplinary conversation on biopolitics and bioethics.


Gema Varona
Gema Varona is a Senior Researcher at the Basque Institute of Criminology, University of the Basque Country, Donostia/San Sebastián, Spain. Contact author: gemmamaria.varona@ehu.eus.

    This case involved an employee who claimed that he was unfairly dismissed for using a trade union to bring a grievance over measures his employer had taken on account of the coronavirus pandemic. The Employment Tribunal (ET) found that he was likely to be able to show at the full hearing of the case that this was an automatically unfair dismissal on grounds of his trade union membership or activities. It awarded the remedy of ‘interim relief’, ordering the employer immediately to reinstate him pending the full trial of the matter. The ET’s decision might signal a potential rise in claims for interim relief in future cases.


David Hopper
David Hopper is a Managing Associate at Lewis Silkin LLP.
Human Rights Practice Review

Poland

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Vita Czepek and Jakub Czepek
Author's information

Vita Czepek
Dr Vita Czepek, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Law and Administration, Department of International Public Law.

Jakub Czepek
Dr Jakub Czepek, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Faculty of Law and Administration, Department of Human Rights Protection and International Humanitarian Law.
Article

Access_open COVID-19-Related Sanitary Crisis and Derogations under Article 15 of the Convention

Considerations in Estonia

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Keywords human rights, emergency situation, COVID-19 and sanitary crisis, Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights (the ECtHR), Estonia
Authors Maris Kuurberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia was one of the states that decided to inform the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the health-related emergency situation in Estonia and noted, with reference to Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that some emergency measures may involve a derogation from certain obligations under the Convention. The Government’s considerations proceeded from the unprecedented scale of the sanitary crisis and the scope of extraordinary measures taken to tackle it. Importance was attached to the fact that the Court has never before assessed health-related exceptions allowed in some of the articles of the Convention in a situation which affects the whole nation – not to mention the articles of the Convention which do not set out any exceptions at all. Article 15 of the Convention, on the other hand, is designed to be applicable in public emergency situations threatening the life of the nation.


Maris Kuurberg
Maris Kuurberg (mag.iur.) has been the Estonian Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights since 2008 (the views expressed are solely those of the author). She works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is also a member of the Bureau of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Human Rights, as well as a member of the same steering committee and a member of the Committee of Experts on the System of the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1999, she has been a member of the Estonian Bar Association but her activity as an Attorney at Law is suspended since she joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Franklin De Vrieze
Franklin De Vrieze, Senior Governance Adviser, Westminster Foundation for Democracy

Constantin Stefanou
Dr Constantin Stefanou, Director, Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies; Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London.
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