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January 23 2020

Der Coronavirusausbruch in China ist laut der WHO noch kein globaler Notfall

Bis anhin sind die allermeisten Erkrankungen und alle Todesfälle in China aufgetreten. Zudem hat das Land drastische Massnahmen ergriffen, um die wiotere Ausbreitung des Virus zu unterbinden.

Malawi opens the first drone academy in Africa

The African Drone and Data Academy officially opened this month in Malawi — the first of its kind in Africa.
"Weltuntergangsuhr" erreicht traurigen Rekordwert
Neues Coronavirus wurde vermutlich von Schlangen übertragen

EU Rule of Law Dialogues: Risks – in Context

On January 16, 2020 the European Parliament passed a resolution about the state of the Article 7(1) TEU hearings with Hungary and Poland, noting with concern that “the reports and statements by the Commission and international bodies, such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe, indicate that the situation in both Poland and Hungary has deteriorated since the triggering of Article 7(1) of the TEU” (para. 3, emphasis added). The resolution is a plea for a structured and more meaningful process in which each EU institution would exercise its existing powers in a meaningful and cooperative manner. The resolution emphasizes that the Article 7(1) TEU preventive process is one of risk assessment and one that may have actual – including budgetary – consequences (see esp. para. 6).

The resolution may of course be read as a desperate attempt by the newly elected Parliament to still be included once the process reaches the Council (i.e. a thinly veiled assertion of its institutional prerogatives). In addition to inter-institutional tensions, it calls attention to how the Council is visibly left behind when events are moving fast on the ground [this is why the resolution “calls on the Council […] to ensure that hearings under Article 7(1) of the TEU also address new developments and assess risks of breaches”], while it also urges the Commission “to make full use of the tools available to address a clear risk of a serious breach by Poland and Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded, in particular expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice” (para. 3.)

Hungarian PM Orban responded robustly to the resolution: he called EPP MEPs who voted to support the resolution “traitors” and mused aloud about the possibility of Fidesz leaving the EPP. This line of thinking has been revealed in early January 2020 after Fidesz and PIS leadership met in Warsaw to discuss the future of Europe.

Thus, it is high time to reflect on the potential of closer Polish-Hungarian cooperation on the state of the rule of law in Europe. The EP’s January 16, 2020 resolution provides helpful pointers for this exercise.

The State of the Rule of Law Dialogue

The resolution confirms that the EU’s rule of law dialogue reached new lows in late 2019: the national governments at the center of the rule of law crisis took advantage – again – of EU actors’ trepidation.

After the Commission’s attempt to reinvent its rule of law playbook in the summer of 2019 (around the time of the EP elections), it was for Council to up its game on Article 7(1) TEU. Despite the Finnish Presidency’s commitment to reviving the process, by September 2019 it was hard to get enthusiastic about the hearing in the General Affairs Council (GAC). After all, all a GAC meeting has to offer to the general public is a bland brief summary on the atmosphere of a meeting in the official minutes. This was the case until a freedom of information request by Professor Laurent Pech opened the doors of the GAC to all who still care about the rule of law crisis. This unexpected transparency raised the stakes before the December 2019 GAC meeting for the Hungarian government: it was time to show off those skills at subverting the Article 7(1) TEU process to the general European public.

And so it happened, that a month before the December 2019 GAC hearing, on November 12, 2019 the Hungarian government tabled a 200-page long bill (T/8016) to amend 76 acts of parliament in a new effort to rein in the judiciary. In terms of its contents the bill, inter alia, meant to finally create those administrative courts that the Hungarian government has been longing for (this time without a Supreme Administrative Court or ministerial supervision). Observers may recall that in December 2018 the Hungarian Parliament had adopted a law to install a separate branch of administrative courts, nominally within the Hungarian judiciary, yet placed under the direction of a separate, newly established Supreme Administrative Court (Közigazgatási Felsőbíróság) alongside the existing Supreme Court (Kúria) (Act no. CXXX of 2018). After sharp criticism from the Venice Commission and also from various EU actors, in May 2019 the Government first suspended the implementation of the new law, and then dropped it completely in the fall of 2019. The November 2019 bill was a new iteration of this old idea. And for good measure the new bill expanded national security screening for the senior ranks of the judiciary.

The Hungarian Parliament adopted the bill on December 10, 2019, ie on the very day the GAC hearing was meant to happen. Not all went to plan. Before it could become law, the President of the Republic returned the bill to Parliament to enable a few quick fixes that the Hungarian Parliament dutifully adopted on December 17, 2019. Note that this time around the Ministry of Justice did not turn to the Venice Commission for an opinion in the spirit of European constitutional dialogue. This may be because the whole point of the timing of the bill (a month before the GAC meeting) was to ensure that it would thwart any meaningful exchange in and outside the GAC on the state of the rule of law in Hungary on the political scene. Which self-respecting European government would dare to ask pointed questions about the reasons behind hyper-technical legal changes on numerous issues in the shadow of a new, 200-page-long judiciary bill that is pending before a national parliament?

There was little time to ponder this question, however, as on December 12-13, 2019 all attention shifted to the new Polish bill on the judiciary, adopted in response to the CJEU’s November 19, 2019 judgment. In that judgment, reached upon a preliminary reference from Polish courts, the CJEU held that it was for the national courts to assess the independence of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court. Trusting national courts with an assessment of local conditions under EU law is of course not new for the CJEU. But in this case it turned out to be a fateful assignment, as the Polish government decided to attach new disciplinary consequences to any such attempt in the new bill. The bill was condemned by the deans of 13 Polish law faculties. In addition, the bill was referred to the Venice Commission by the speaker of the Polish Senate.

One is kept wondering what difference would it have made if the Commission had brought this case itself, and with some expediency? And if the CJEU were to decide on the issues raised without tossing the ball back to the national courts?

Rescue Attempts from the CoE? The Venice Commission and the ECtHR

The Parliament’s new resolution emphasizes that the Article 7(1) TEU is a process that is based on assessing risks, looking for a clear risk of a serious breach of the EU’s founding values. The Parliament recalls that this process requires all EU institutions to use their powers to the best of their abilities. Based on its own plans and communications it is apparent that the Commission believes infringement action to be a tool in its toolkit to safeguard the rule of law. And while formally Article 7(1) TEU has nothing to do with a case on preliminary references before the CJEU, the consequences of a judgment in a matter that is at the heart of the crisis (politically tainted disciplinary measures against Polish judges) – somewhat predictably – fall within the series of events routinely described as the EU’s rule of law crisis.

A decade into the events, risk assessment under Article 7(1) TEU can drawn on a impressive body of evidence, collected and interpreted by constitutional actors inside and outside the EU. Two more pieces were added to this puzzle in less than a week, in a manner that appears to take into account the facts before these CoE institutions as well as the broader context of the cases before them.

Consider the Venice Commission’s urgent opinion on the latest Polish bill. E.g. para. 31:

“Several provisions of the Amendments eliminate the competence of the Polish courts to examine whether another court decision was issued by a person appointed as a judge in compliance with the Constitution, European law and other international legal standards. These amendments are seemingly designed to have a nullifying effect on the CJEU ruling of 19 November 2019 and the Supreme Court judgment of 5 December 2019, and on other pending proceedings where the competence of the newly appointed judges has been challenged.” (emphasis added)

This is then followed by the following observation in para. 37:

the above provisions, taken together, aim at nullifying the effects of the CJEU ruling. This is a serious challenge to the principle of the primacy of EU law. In the preliminary ruling of 19 November 2019, the CJEU clearly held that it was a duty of the referring court to examine the question of independence of the Disciplinary Chamber, in particular by looking at the composition of the selecting body (the NCJ). Polish courts dealing with the consequences of the CJEU judgment of 19 November 2019 or confronted with an issue of judicial independence in a different context, will be put in an impossible position of choosing between following the requirements of the EU law as interpreted by the CJEU, or using legal avenues provided by the TFEU, and abiding by the new law.” (emphasis added)

In brief, the Venice Commission was willing to consider the recent Polish bill in its broader context and considered the impact of this regulation on Polish courts as well as on the European legal order. The language is certainly tentative at times. What matters for the purposes of risk analysis (ie the exercise in Article 7(1) TEU) is that that these particular provisions are read in a broader context where legal tools of this kind are routinely used to undermine the rule of law in the very member state.

As a second example, take a recent judgment of the Grande Chamber of the ECtHR in Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt v. Hungary (January, 20, 2019). The case involved a challenge against a fine that was imposed on the Hungarian Party of the Dog with Two Tails for encouraging voters to use an app to share anonymously with each other photos of invalid ballots cast in a 2016 referendum in Hungary. The question in the referendum posed by the Hungarian government: “Do you want the European Union to be entitled to order the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without Parliament’s consent?” The government’s preferred response was “no.” Despite 3.362.224 voting “no” (ie. over 98 % of the respondents), the referendum was invalid as participation did not reach a 50 % threshold. The Party of the Dog with Two Tails encouraged its voters to cast invalid ballots in the referendum. It was fined for endangering the fairness of the election for exercising its rights against their purpose.

Hungarian courts did not believe that this case involved freedom of expression. The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR found that it did, and concluded that using an unforseeable limitation on freedom of expression violates Article 10(2) of the Convention. Importantly, the ECtHR found that this was about the integrity of democratic institutions and the rule of law:

  • 100.  When those legal provisions form the basis for restricting the exercise of freedom of expression, this is an additional element to be taken into account when considering the foreseeability requirements which the law must fulfil. In this connection the Court reiterates that free speech is essential in ensuring “the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”. …
  • 101.  In the Court’s opinion, this kind of supervision naturally extends to the assessment of whether the legal basis relied on by the authorities in restricting the freedom of expression of a political party was foreseeable in its effects to an extent ruling out any arbitrariness in its application. A rigorous supervision here not only serves to protect democratic political parties from arbitrary interferences by the authorities, but also protects democracy itselfsince any restriction on freedom of expression in this context without sufficiently foreseeable regulations can harm open political debate, the legitimacy of the voting process and its results and, ultimately, the confidence of citizens in the integrity of democratic institutions and their commitment to the rule of law (emphasis added).

The ECtHR did what we had seen from the Venice Commission: placed the facts of the case before it (i.e. a political prank by a joke party) into its broader context of regular restrictions of political dissent and the rights of political parties in a member state that is eager to use the law to build an illiberal democracy. The above statement may not make that much of a difference for the outcome of this case, but it reminds all about the foundations of the European human rights regime and the interconnections between these founding elements. These are the very same foundations that the risk assessment exercise of Article 7(1) TEU aims to protect.

What is Next?

As of January 2020 the Hungarian government, and PM Orban personally has been attacking courts, human rights defenders and the legal profession. His radio interview of January 17, 2020 responding to the European Parliament’s resolution attacked not only the “traitors” of the EPP that supported the resolution, and George Soros, but the Hungarian court that awarded damages for racial segregation in a local school. As a by-the-by it also targeted those who assisted detainees in seeking compensation under the 2016 Hungarian law on compensation for inhuman detention conditions, a law adopted to implement an ECtHR pilot judgment against Hungary. The radio interview followed similar speeches along similar lines. A week earlier PM Orban said that the judgment awarding compensation for desegregation “hurts society’s  ‘sense of justice’ as the people of Gyöngyöspata see that the town’s Roma community gets a ‘significant sum without having to work for it in any way’.”

Attacks of this kind against courts and the legal profession are already familiar in the Polish political discourse. This is a new development in Hungary, though few will be surprised in light of more intense recent cooperation between the political elites of these already friendly countries.

The real question is what various EU actors wish to do in the face of such a blatant attack against the rule of law — beyond continuing the Article 7(1) TEU dialogue as if nothing has happened. The Parliament’s resolution is asking for more: it is asking for actual risk assessment that is context savvy, instead of focusing of past events and it is asking for responses from the EU that reflect the stakes, including budgetary conditions and consequences. Hardly a slow start for a new year!

This article has previously been posted on the Bridge Network’s website and is re-posted here with kind permission.

"Dark Waters": Meet the Lawyer Whose 20-Year Fight Against DuPont Inspired the New Film

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The new film “Dark Waters” tells the story of attorney Rob Bilott’s 20-year battle with DuPont over contaminated drinking water in West Virginia from toxic chemicals used to make Teflon. The Environmental Working Group credited Billot with “uncovering the most heinous corporate environmental conspiracy in history,” and the issue of contaminated water from the plastics industry continues to devastate areas across the country. On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group released a shocking report about how toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS have been found in the drinking water of dozens of U.S. cities, including major metropolitan areas including Miami, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. The so-called forever chemicals are linked to cancer, high cholesterol and decreased fertility, and they do not break down in the environment. We speak with attorney Robert Bilott, who has just published a new book titled “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont.” He is portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Hollywood film “Dark Waters.” We’re also joined by Tim Robbins, Academy Award-winning actor and director, who plays Bilott’s boss at his law firm in “Dark Waters.”

Tim Robbins: Bernie Sanders Is the Best Shot We Have to Defeat Donald Trump


We continue our conversation with Academy Award-winning actor and director Tim Robbins, whose recent projects include the new film “Dark Waters” and a play about immigration called “The New Colossus.” He recently endorsed Vermont senator and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for president. “I believe he is the only one of them that can defeat Trump,” Robbins says.

“The New Colossus”: In New Play, Tim Robbins Tackles Immigration & Xenophobia

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President Trump said Wednesday that he would expand his highly controversial travel ban, which already bars citizens from seven countries, most of which have Muslim-majority populations — Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela — from entering the United States. Politico reports that the expanded ban could implement immigration restrictions on seven more countries: Belarus, Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, according to two sources. We speak with acclaimed actor, director and activist Tim Robbins, whose recent work has focused on immigration to the United States. He has starred in many movies, including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Mystic River” and “Dark Waters.” He also wrote and directed the highly acclaimed film “Dead Man Walking.” He is the director of a new play about immigration called “The New Colossus,” with the play’s title borrowed from the 1883 Emma Lazarus sonnet that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

Trump Brags About Withholding Evidence as Democratic Impeachment Managers Lay Out Case in the Senate

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During the opening day of oral arguments in the impeachment trial, President Trump was accused of abusing his office to “cheat an election.” House impeachment managers spent about eight hours on Wednesday laying out their case for why President Trump should be removed from office. The Senate trial comes a month after the House impeached Trump for withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. While the impeachment trial was taking place in the Senate, President Trump was across the Atlantic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he tweeted more than 140 times and dismissed the impeachment trial as a hoax. Trump also appeared to boast about having withheld evidence from the impeachment process, saying, “We have all the material; they don’t have the material.” For more on the historic impeachment trial, we speak with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and Supreme Court reporter at

CSUler in die Container? Oder wie man doch noch zu einem Bundestag mit 598 Abgeordneten kommen kann

Bundespräsident Wolfgang Schäuble ist vorerst mit seiner Arbeitsgruppe zur Reform des Wahlrechts gescheitert. Das könnte schon sehr bald zum Problem werden, denn ohne Wahlrechtsreform wird der begehrte Raum im Berliner Regierungsviertel bald knapp. Auf Basis aktueller Umfragewerte könnten mit dem aktuell geltenden Wahlgesetz im nächsten Bundestag mehr als 800 Abgeordnete sitzen. Und so ist Schäubles Ankündigung, künftig Büro-Container aufstellen zu lassen ganz bestimmt nicht als reiner Scherz zu verstehen.

Wenn man sich das derzeitige Wahlgesetz genauer anschaut, wird schnell klar, warum der Bundestag so stark anwächst. Ein Grund hat drei Buchstaben – CSU. Genauer gesagt die Überhangmandate, die die CSU gewinnt und die dadurch notwendigen Ausgleichsmandate, um diese zu kompensieren. Daher die zugegebenermaßen nicht ganz ernst gemeinte Frage zur Lösung der Raumknappheit: CSUler in die Container? Doch so weit muss es gar nicht kommen.

Das Wahlrecht legt fest, wie viele Stimmen Wahlberechtigte haben und wie diese in Sitze umgewandelt werden. Es handelt sich um ein komplexes Regelwerk mit sehr vielen Stellschrauben, an denen man drehen kann. Jedes Land auf der Welt hat ein anderes Wahlsystem. Ja selbst jedes unserer Bundesländer hat ein eigenes Wahlsystem. Interessanterweise wird keines davon derzeit als Lösungsvorschlag diskutiert. Natürlich kann man sich weitere Vorschläge ausdenken oder die Beratungen zur Reform des Wahlrechts in eine ausgeloste Bürgerversammlung auslagern, um sie so dem Parteienstreit zu entziehen. Die Zeit drängt aber. Die Parteien müssen im Frühjahr mit dem Nominierungsprozess für Kandidierende beginnen. Für die kommende Bundestagwahl werden also schnelle Lösungen gebraucht.

Geht das überhaupt und wie kann so eine schnelle Lösung aussehen? Aus unserer Sicht sollten an jede Lösung zwei Kriterien angelegt werden – eine Lösung sollte, erstens, minimal-invasiv sein und, zweitens, eine maximale Größe des Bundestags festlegen. Außerdem sollte eine Änderung des Wahlgesetzes mit breitem Konsens im Bundestag beschlossen werden.

Was bedeutet für uns minimal-invasiv? Zunächst sollte der Charakter einer personalisierten Verhältniswahl gewahrt werden. Das derzeitige Wahlsystem mit Erst- und Zweitstimmen ist ja nicht selbst unter Beschuss. Vielmehr wird kritisiert, dass die Größe des Bundestags durch Überhang- und Ausgleichsmandate immer weiter ansteigt. Zudem deutet sich an, dass ein neuer Zuschnitt der Wahlkreise, verbunden mit einer Reduzierung der Zahl der Wahlkreise, im Bundestag keine Mehrheit finden würde. Daher bedeutet für uns minimal-invasiv auch, dass die derzeitige Anzahl von 299 Wahlkreisen beibehalten wird.

Um der Kritik an einem immer größeren Bundestag entgegenzuwirken, ist unser zweites Kriterium: Ein neues Wahlgesetz sollte die Bundestagsgröße auf die derzeitig vorgesehene Mindestgröße von 598 Abgeordneten begrenzen. Kann das minimal-invasiv funktionieren?

Entweder personalisierte Verhältniswahl oder feste Parlamentsgröße?

Zunächst wollen wir die verschiedenen Vorschläge, die zurzeit diskutiert werden, anhand dieser beiden Kriterien bewerten. Derzeit schlagen Teile der CDU einen Wechsel zu einem Grabenwahlsystem vor. Es ist zwar richtig, dass dieser Vorschlag das Problem der Überhangmandate mit einem Schlag lösen kann und auch eine maximale Größe des Bundestags festgeschrieben wäre. Allerdings impliziert dieser Vorschlag eine Änderung des Grundcharakters unseres Wahlsystems – weg von einer Verhältniswahl, hin zum Charakter einer Mehrheitswahl. Eine breite parlamentarische Mehrheit für ein anderes System dürfte schwierig zu organisieren sein. Minimal-invasiv ist so ein Vorschlag jedenfalls nicht.

Der gemeinsame Vorschlag von FDP, Linken und Grünen sieht eine Reduzierung der Anzahl der Wahlkreise auf 250 vor. Gleichzeitig soll die Mindestsitzzahl auf 630 Sitze erhöht werden. Dieser Vorschlag würde das Problem des anwachsenden Parlaments nicht in jedem Fall lösen, wie unsere Simulationen zeigen, von denen die Süddeutsche Zeitung berichtet. Zudem würden weniger Wahlkreise unweigerlich zu heftigen innerparteilichen Auseinandersetzungen innerhalb von CDU und CSU führen, deren Abgeordnete fast ausschließlich als Wahlkreissieger ins Parlament gewählt werden. Minimal-invasiv ist dieser Vorschlag daher nicht. Nicht zuletzt deshalb dürfte eine breite parlamentarische Mehrheit für eine Reduzierung der Wahlkreise schwierig zu organisieren sein.

Einen weiteren Vorschlag bringt die Bertelsmann Stiftung ins Spiel. Die Anzahl der Wahlkreise soll von 299 auf 150 annähernd halbiert werden. Dafür werden nicht nur die Wahlkreissieger direkt in den Bundestag gewählt, sondern auch die Zweitplatzierten. Durch die Zweipersonenwahlkreise sollen Überhangmandate bei weiterhin 598 Sitzen so gut wie ausgeschlossen sein. Auch dieser Vorschlag ist nicht minimal-invasiv. Die Halbierung der Anzahl der Wahlkreise dürfte aus den oben aufgeführten Gründen unmöglich sein. Außerdem zeigt ein einfaches Gedankenexperiment, dass Überhang- und Ausgleichsmandate durch diesen Vorschlag nicht ausgeschlossen sind. Angenommen es gibt 4 Parteien. Partei A erhält 50 % der Zweitstimmen, Partei B 20 %, Partei C 15 % und Partei D 15 %. Dieses Wahlergebnis soll auf 100 Sitze verteilt werden, von denen 50 Sitze in 25 Zweipersonen Wahlkreisen vergeben werden. Angenommen die Reihung der Erststimmen ist in allen Wahlkreisen genauso wie im Gesamtergebnis. Das heißt, dass Partei A 25 Wahlkreise gewinnt. Dazu erhält Partei A noch 25 Listenmandate. Partei B erreicht ebenfalls 25 Wahlkreismandate, dies sind allerdings 5 Überhangmandate, da der Partei eigentlich nur 20 Sitze zustünden. Parteien C und D würden 15 Listensitze gewinnen. Um den Überhang auszugleichen, wären also zusätzliche Ausgleichsmandate notwendig, die weiterhin keine fixe Größe des Parlaments zuließen. Der Überhang würde durch diesen Vorschlag lediglich von den Wahlkreisgewinnern auf die Wahlkreiszweiten verschoben.

Hier zeigt sich das zentrale Problem eines jeden Vorschlags. Der Bundestag muss sich entscheiden zwischen einerseits Wahlkreissiegern (und/oder Wahlkreiszweite), die automatisch ins Parlament gewählt werden und andererseits einer festen Größe des Bundestags – beides zusammen lässt sich nicht realisieren. Gewinnt eine Partei wie bisher mehr Wahlkreismandate als ihr Sitze gemäß ihres Zweitstimmenanteils zustehen und diese behalten darf, dann kann es keine feste Parlamentsgröße geben. Wenn man also an einer Parlamentsgröße von 598 festhalten und einen minimal-invasiven Änderungsvorschlag machen will, dann muss man an den Wahlkreismandaten ansetzen. Das ist also der Ausgangspunkt für unseren Vorschlag, den wir nun kurz vorstellen wollen.

Sowohl personalisierte Verhältniswahl als auch feste Parlamentsgröße!

Eine feste Parlamentsgröße von 598 wird also fest vorgegeben genauso wie 299 Wahlkreise. Wie bisher ist der Anteil der Zweitstimmen auf der Bundesebene entscheidend dafür, wie viele Sitze eine Partei im Bundestag bekommt, solange sie über die 5% Hürde kommt oder über eine Grundmandatsklausel an der Zweitstimmenverteilung beteiligt wird. Die gewonnenen Sitze einer Partei auf Bundesebene werden im Verhältnis der einzelnen Landeslistenergebnisse der Partei auf die Bundesländer verteilt. Ländergrößen und Wahlbeteiligung sind somit berücksichtigt. Normalerweise würde nun die Verrechnung der gewonnen Wahlkreismandate mit den einer Partei zustehenden Mandaten in einem Bundesland erfolgen, wobei Überhangmandate entstehen können. Das ändern wir in unserem Vorschlag, der auf den Vorschlägen von Funk im Tagesspiegel vom 24. Januar 2017 sowie Schönberger und Schönberger in der FAZ vom 9. Mai 2019 (Seite 6) aufbaut. Dabei werden die Sitze einer Partei je zur Hälfte an die besten Wahlkreiskandidaten einer Partei (im Bundesland) und zur Hälfte auf die Landeslisten der Parteien vergeben.

Würden einer Partei in einem Bundesland 10 Sitze zustehen, dann würden die fünf besten Erstimmenkandidierenden der Partei gewählt sein und wie bisher die ersten fünf Kandidierenden der Landesliste, die nicht schon über die Erstimmenauszählung gewählt wurden. Bei 11 Sitzen, also einer ungeraden Zahl, sollten dann eben die besten sechs Erstimmenkandidierenden der Partei gewählt sein und die restlichen fünf Sitze wie bisher über die Landesliste vergeben werden. Die besten Wahlkreiskandidierenden werden anhand der relativen Erststimmenanteile ermittelt. So wird ausgeschlossen, dass die Wahlkreisgröße einen Einfluss auf die Reihung hat. Durch diesen Vorschlag gewinnen also alle Parteien mit mindestens einem Sitz im Land einen Wahlkreissitz. So haben auch Kandidierende kleiner Parteien, die bisher keine Aussicht auf ein Direktmandat hatten, einen Anreiz vor Ort gute Arbeit zu machen.

Dieser Vorschlag verhindert, dass eine Partei mehr Sitze über die Erststimme gewinnt, als ihr gemäß ihres Zweitstimmenanteils zustehen. Überhangmandate werden also dadurch verhindert, dass man aufgrund der Erststimmen nicht mehr direkt einen Sitz in jedem Wahlkreis vergibt. Die Anzahl der Wahlkreise muss dazu nicht verkleinert werden, wodurch viele Konflikte in den Beratungen umgangen werden könnten. Dadurch erhalten Wählerinnen und Wähler mehr Klarheit über die Sitzverteilung bzw. die absolute Sitzanzahl einer Partei. Diese ist nun nur von der Zweitstimme abhängig. Die Zweitstimme kann so auch zur Sanktionierung von Parteien genutzt werden. Im Sinne dessen, dass ein schlechteres Wahlergebnis automatisch eine kleinere Fraktion bedeutet. Dies ist im aktuellen Wahlgesetz nicht berücksichtigt.

Neu an unserem Vorschlag ist, dass wir sowohl unabhängige Kandidierende als auch die Grundmandatsklausel berücksichtigen. Wenn Kandidierende einer Partei in mindestens 3 Wahlkreisen die relative Stimmenmehrheit gewinnen, also klassische Wahlkreisgewinner sind, dann nimmt die Partei an der Sitzverteilung teil, wie wenn die Partei die 5 % Hürde übersprungen hätte. Gewinnen weniger als 3 Kandidierende einer Partei oder einzelne unabhängige Kandidierende die relative Stimmenmehrheit im Wahlkreis, so ziehen diese direkt in den Bundestag ein. Die so gewonnenen Sitze werden von der maximalen Bundestagsgröße von 598 abgezogen. Dann werden die verbleibenden Sitze wie oben beschrieben auf Bundesländer und Parteien verteilt.

Wählerinnen und Wähler werden von der Änderung nicht viel merken, weil es wie bisher Erst- und Zweitstimmen gibt. Insbesondere müssen sie nicht auf eine Personenwahl für Kandidierende eines Wahlkreises verzichten. Dieses Element sichert genügend Anreize, dass Parteien und ihre Kandidierenden sich auch lokal um die Belange der Bürgerinnen und Bürger kümmern.

Unser Vorschlag ist insbesondere für Parteien wie die CDU und die CSU von Vorteil, deren Personal ja bisher durch die Kandidierendenaufstellung der lokalen Partei im Wahlkreis dominiert ist. Eigene Personalstrategien kann man so schwerlich umsetzen. Durch unseren Vorschlag erhalten Parteien eine gewisse Beidfüßigkeit, da praktisch die Hälfte aller Sitze einer Partei mit Kandidierenden auf den Landeslisten gefüllt würde. Über die Zusammenstellung einer Landesliste können Parteien ihre Personalstrategien umsetzen und besser planbar machen.

Um es noch einmal festzuhalten: unser Vorschlag erfüllt beide Kriterien, die an eine schnelle Lösung zu stellen sind. Der Vorschlag ist minimal-invasiv. Er behält das System von Erst- und Zweitstimmen bei und die Anzahl der Wahlkreise bleibt unverändert. Für Wähler ändert sich nichts. Sie können weiterhin mit der Erststimme Persönlichkeiten wählen, die womöglich nicht zur selben Partei gehören, wie die Partei welche sie mit ihrer Zweitstimme wählen. Parteien gewinnen Beidfüßigkeit, die es erlaubt ihre Personalstrategien planbarer zu machen. Gerade für Parteien wie die CDU oder die CSU sollte das interessant sein, weil unser Vorschlag ihnen mehr Freiheit und Flexibilität eröffnet. Zudem löst unser Vorschlag das Problem der Überhangmandate. Der neue Bundestag hätte eine feste Größe. Und zum Schluss das beste: Die gewählten CSU-Abgeordneten müssten dann doch nicht in die Container einziehen.

Le gouvernement accélère la privatisation de l'Office national des forêts | Gaspard d'Allens

Le gouvernement accélère la privatisation de l’Office national des forêts | Gaspard d’Allens

Reporterre révèle que le gouvernement entérine la privatisation de l’office public chargé des forêts : ses agents pourront de plus en plus être de droit privé. Cette mesure capitale affaiblira leur pouvoir de protection des forêts. C’est un nouveau recul, alors même que le changement climatique exige une attention accrue pour les massifs français. Source : Reporterre

‘Zombie Urbanism’ and the Search for New Sources of Solidarity

Let me start with a reminiscence: a few weeks ago, I was sitting in one of my preferred cafés in Paris, le Café Odéon- Théâtre de l’Europe, a vivid place near the Jardin de Luxembourg in the heart of the university quarter. I realised that the waiter was wearing a shirt with the letters ‘Defend Paris’, which he explained to be a statement against the forces that make Paris an uneasy place to live, a defiance against the powerful and social injustice. With a mixture of rebellion and idealism, he added that he understands himself as part of a ‘Reclaim Your City’ Movement, thus representing what is central for urban citizenship today: a republican defence against forces that make a metropolitan city a trademark to be sold to people who can afford it, but increasingly less a home for ordinary people who want to live in the city. Walking through the streets, passing a small jewelry shop, a place of distinguished understatement showing a picture of Meghan Markle wearing ‘rose’-earrings displayed in the window, the term ‘zombie urbanism’ came to my mind – a term used by Jonny Aspen, professor at the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape in Oslo (See Bjerkeset and Aspen (forthcoming 2020) and here), to describe a cliché-like way of dealing with urban environment by developers and designers – a ‘staged urbanism’, in which urban features are used as a means for selling, marketing and branding. This kind of city-marketing can prove quite successful: whereas the burning of Notre Dame mobilised hundreds of millions of donations within a short period of time, the burning of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro soon after, extinguishing 200 years of documentation of cultural memory, mobilised only 225.000 Euros (state 1.4.2019).

Global metropolitan cities like Paris are certainly extreme cases – but they raise the question: How can this ‘staged urbanism’ provide spaces of urban citizenship? Under what conditions can urban citizenship “contribute to overall democratic integration within and beyond nation-states”, as Rainer Bauböck expects?

Why urban citizenship?

Bauböck relates his initiative of strengthening urban citizenship to the rise of populism. He rightfully calls for new narratives that can bridge the divide between mobile/sedentary, urban/rural, cosmopolitan/parochial populations and identities. This divide – which is frequently referred to as the new ‘globalisation cleavage’ – should indeed be considered the primary challenge a citizenship narrative has to address today. Under conditions of rising inequities among regions and states, urban and rural areas, and polarisation of labour markets with certain strata of the population being stuck in unqualified jobs and few possibilities to move ahead, traditional legitimation narratives have lost their resonance. We witness a “populist moment” which comes along with phantasms of homogeneity and embodiment that openly attack the pluralist constitution of modern democracy (including right-wing anti-migration propaganda contributing to reinforcing new border practices, see Varsanyi; cf. Krastev 2007.). ‘The People’ has become a central concept in political discourse again but, as many liberal analysts argue, it is often brought forward in a way that is deeply conflicting with emancipatory aspirations of democratic citizenship. However, there are also movements on the rise that try to conceive of populism in a progressive way. Far from being a perversion of democracy, it is supposed to constitute the political force to recover it and expand it on the different levels of society (Mouffe 2018).

Rainer Bauböck is appealing to the emancipatory idea of democratic citizenship: the narrative he is searching for ought to tell people “what they have in common and why they have to respect each other as equals who share a stake in institutions that express their common desire for democratic self-government”. Where Marshall argued for social citizenship to meet the demands of the postwar-era, and Kymlicka developed the concept of multicultural citizenship to answer the challenges of growing diversity in the 1990ies, today the idea of urban citizenship is supposed to address the concerns of those most affected by the globalisation divide. Urban citizenship must be at the core of the new story.

Who is the urban citizen?

In Bauböck’s view, urban citizenship should be part of a multilevel institutional architecture of democracy. Consequently, urban citizenship ought to be part of a multilevel form of citizenship. It thus seems important to keep in mind that the different levels of democratic self-government ought to be pervaded by a political culture expressing values of equal worth, respect and cooperation, not only within the boundaries of one level but also transcending each of them. The challenge for urban citizenship as part of a multilevel citizenship regime is the construction and legitimation of new frames of reference while at the same time including equal rights empowering subjects for collective action and developing a self-understanding as a citizen. What is more, the political culture of democracy stands in systemic tension with a social culture of capitalism with its values of competitiveness, merit and individualising of achievements. While the social culture of capitalism produces differences in status and wealth, i.e. social inequalities, the political culture of democracy requires to ‘stand eye to eye with fellow citizens’ (Pettit 1997, 51). Normatively, citizenship claims to be a generalisable ideal, but insofar as its social foundations are misinterpreted, its effects become exclusionary (Marx (1843) 1976). The political citizen then turns out to be an economic citizen (‘bourgois’) – which historically meant: a male white property owner.

It has frequently been criticised that citizenship as a privilege for the propertied classes is enjoying a resurgence. This resurgence is discussed not only in the literature on neo-liberal transformations of the welfare state, but also on multiple citizenship (Anderson 2015, 184-85; Morris 2003, 2009; Tanasoca 2018 (and the discussion at GLOBALCIT)). In the context of debates about the ‘global city’, urban culture and the dynamics of gentrification the argument is taken up by demonstrating that the ‘new global cleavage’ is, at least partly, linked to the old social cleavages. But the forces that bring about these cleavages are reorganized (Sassen 2008, 503-511).

Three dimensions of meaning

I generally agree with Rainer Bauböck’s assumption that urban citizenship must be at the core of a new citizenship narrative. But the construction of this new democratic narrative raises a bunch of questions: The concept of urban citizenship implies three dimensions of meaning, which complicates addressing the challenge: first, the idea refers to a certain space: the city, as a particular locus for action; second, it refers to a certain social situatedness: being mobile and looking for a new home in the big cities; and third, it refers to a certain mindset: a post-national identity, embracing open societies and cultural diversity. How do these dimensions matter with regard to the task of re-integrating democracy?

Regarding the scenes, the spaces, on which the history of modern citizenship is projected forward today, the city is certainly playing an extraordinary role (Colliot-Thelene 2011, 218-232). Enfolding dynamics of enlargement refer to the language of human rights as a medium of including more and more categories of persons into the realm of citizenship, frequently giving rise to practices of “insurgent citizenship” (Holston 2008). But local struggles are deeply entangled with the economic logic of a globalising world. De-territorialisation and pluralisation of power make it increasingly more difficult to figure out a clear addressee for claims to equal citizenship.

Regarding the social situatedness of ‘movers’ rather than ‘stay at homes’, cities are, no doubt, also of ultimate importance. Cities are primary goals of destination for those seeking a new beginning, not least due to the fact that metropolitan regions are economic centers which potentially give more opportunities for making a living. But one should be careful to avoid homogenisation. The idea of a globalisation cleavage of moving versus sedentary parts of the population suggests a cleavage between city and periphery. But the clash is also within the city. Not only should we take more care on how non-urban communities are portrayed, as Patti Lenard suggests, but also on how the contradictions of globalisation are mirrored in the diversity of urban population.

This links to the last dimension, the post-national mindset, which is allegedly fostered by urban citizenship. A “ius domicilii”, derived from presence in locality and including all de facto residents, would be an important normative shift with regard to democratic inclusion. It would allow inhabitants with multiple affiliations and loyalties to identify with the city as the concrete locus of their everyday life and thus support multiple experiences of identity. But urban citizens cannot be expected to carry the burden of reintegrating democracy alone.

Connecting the local and the global

Cities today are crucial places where the ambivalences of globalisation come to light. In the post-national constellation, the global city has become the locus for a reconstitution of citizenship, creating new forms of politics and practices of collective agency. The concentration of global economic and cultural dynamics in the city reinforces the search for innovative responses. Nevertheless, the contradictions of globalisation cannot be worked through on the local level alone. Although the city potentially creates concrete forms of solidarity based on local cooperation, these forms of solidarity must be linked to a transnational citizenship regime which supports the egalitarian promises of modern democratic citizenship. Restricting “ius domicilii” to the local level would intensify the conflicts it is supposed to mediate if not embedded in wider transformations. Contrary to what Bauböck suggests, the normative shift to a residence-based membership should therefore (graduated according to the minimum time of residence) be perceived as the appropriate foundation of membership in the post-national constellation in general, including at the national level.


  • Anderson, Bridget 2015: ‚Heads I Win. Tails You Lose: Migration and the Worker Citizens, in: Current Legal Problems 68, 179-196.
  • Bjerkeset, S. and Aspen, J. 2020. 'Public Space Use: A Classification'. In Mehta, V. and Palazzo, D. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Public Space. New York: Routledge.
  • Marx, Karl (1843) 1976: Zur Judenfrage, in: Karl Marx/ Friedrich Engels – Werke, Bd. 1, Berlin, 347-377.
  • Colliot-Thélène, Catherine 2011: Demokratie ohne Volk, Hamburg.
  • Holston, James 2008: Insurgent Citizenship, Princeton.     
  • Krastev, Ivan 2007: “The Populist Moment”, in: Critique and Humanism, 23, 1-5.
  • Morris, Lydia 2009: An emergent Cosmopolitan Paradigm? Asylum, Welfare and Human Rights, in: International Migration Review, 37, 74-100.
  • Mouffe, Chantal 2018: For a Left Populism, London /New York.
  • Pettit, Philip 1997: Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, Oxford.
  • Sassen, Saskia 2008: Das Paradox des Nationalen, Frankfurt a.M.
  • Tanasoca, Ana 2018: The Ethics of Multiple Citizenship, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Von Zika bis Dengue: Viele Viren mit einer Salbe schlagen

Mücken übertragen zahlreiche Krankheiten. Eine nach dem Stich aufgetragene Crème könnte möglicherweise vor einer ganzen Reihe von ihnen schützen – und vielleicht sogar vor Zeckenkrankheiten.

Welche Emissionen entstehen beim Ausglühen von Dieselpartikelfiltern?

Umweltschützer wittern ein Risiko zusätzlicher Emissionen bei der routinemässigen Dieselfilterreinigung während der Fahrt. Doch Alarmismus wäre verfehlt.
Der erste Schutzschild unseres Planeten

Urban Citizenship: A Path to Migrant Inclusion

If urban citizenship is emancipated from national citizenship, then all inhabitants of a municipality could be recognised as members of the local communities in which they live. Such emancipation would mitigate the tension between the de-facto political community and the categories imposed by the nation state that exclude people who lack national citizenship or resident status. This tension has recently erupted into open conflict between the Trump administration and New York, Chicago, and many other sanctuary cities in the USA. It can also be observed in solidarity cities like Berlin in Germany, cities of refuge like Barcelona in Spain, or the “Commune of Reception” (Comuna de Acogida) of Quilicura outside of Santiago de Chile.

Earlier commentaries in this forum highlighted various aspects of urban citizenship, such as the exclusion of non-urban populations (Lenard) or the conundrum of multilevel frames of legal authority (van Zeben). I am focusing, too, on one particular aspect, and suggest that urban citizenship can be an important mechanism to create inclusive communities.

To fulfil its promise, urban citizenship, as Rainer Bauböck correctly points out, should follow the domicile principle (ius domicilii). Emancipated urban citizenship could apply this principle to all inhabitants of the city – not only those who carry a national passport or national immigration papers; it would also apply to people who overstayed their visas or work permits, failed refugee claimants who nevertheless remain in the city, and those who crossed the border without state permission. This means that urban citizenship is about more than extending voting rights to immigrants; it is about including de-facto inhabitants of the community, especially those whom the nation state does not want to live in the country and thus the city.

Palermo’s charismatic Mayor Leoluca Orlando articulated the idea behind this principle in an eloquent way. When I interviewed him at his Palermo office earlier this year, he said: “If you are in Palermo, you are a Palermitan. I’m sorry, but you are a Palermitan. You can leave Palermo if you want. But as long as you are in Palermo, you are a Palermitan." Not everyone may agree that short term visitors and tourists should be counted as members of the urban community. However, Orlando’s statement makes clear that not national status (or lack thereof) but presence within the municipal boundaries matters for membership. Or, in the words of Warren Magnusson, once migrants have arrived, “they should have the same rights as anyone else.”

What makes the city an intuitive scale to define political community and membership is that it is not a community like the nation that is imagined based on the “cultural artifacts” of nation-ness and nationalism (Anderson 1991: 4). Rather, the urban community is tangible because it is defined by the physical space of the city and the way this space is used on a daily basis. As Avner de Shalit remarks, people know and interact with each other when they go about their daily business in the space of the city. The local scale is where a political community exists in and for itself. Then what stands in the way of emancipating urban citizenship?

Sovereignty is the problem, not just an obstacle

The question of sovereignty poses a major obstacle to the practical implementation of urban citizenship. Bauböck states that “cities should play a greater role in addressing global problems, such as the climate crisis or international refugee protection, where sovereign states have failed dismally precisely because their sovereignty hampers cooperative solutions.” In the context of migrant exclusion, I would go a step further: the sovereignty claimed by states does not only stand in the way of finding solutions but has created the problem in the first place.

We have seen throughout the Global North that migration control and the exclusion of migrants are used strategically by populist politicians to assert territorial state sovereignty. The policies of Donald Trump in the USA, the debate leading to the Brexit vote in the UK, and the successes of the Five Star Movement in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France, and the Alternative for Germany illustrate the effectiveness of demonising migrants in feeding anxieties among disillusioned voters over the effects of globalisation and the perceived loss of national sovereignty (Dauvergne 2008).

While some scholars have questioned the nation state’s moral authority to regulate the movement of people (Carens 1987, Bauder 2017), others are pointing out that sovereignty itself is not something that exists naturally. Rather, the state needs to continuously claim and enact sovereignty through “theatrical performances” (Brown 2017: 3), such as by demonstrating that it has the authority to exclude migrants (De Genova 2010). The idea that a sovereign state can arbitrarily exclude people from its national community, even if they are already living in the country, has created the very problem that urban citizenship seeks to solve through including non-national residents.

Yes, we are in “urgent need for new narratives” (Bauböck). But these new narratives need to go beyond a narrow political imagination that merely affirms the dominant Westphalian political order and its idea of state sovereignty. The European Union is an example of how new political configurations are being created based on political need and practice. The problem, however, is that Europe has only rescaled migrant exclusion from the national to the European level, with the effect that Europe’s outer border has become the deadliest one in the world. I believe that the urban scale can offer an alternative political narrative. Cities in Germany, for example, are proposing to serve as sea bridges (Seebrücken) and have offered to accept migrants and refugees rescued at sea directly – only to learn that the national government is blocking these efforts.

Urban citizenship as social practices of inclusion – and exclusion

When it comes to multi-level governance, new forms of political organisation and new spatial and territorial configurations have always emerged from social and political practice. We cannot design them as an architect would draw a blueprint for a new house. This architect will only take the techniques and building materials into consideration that currently exist. The structure of the future, using yet unknown techniques and undiscovered materials, is beyond our reach. Similarly, if we rely solely on concepts (such as territorial citizenship) and structures (such as the nation state) that dominate our political life today, then we will only reproduce and not overcome the problems these concepts and structures inherently produce.

What we can do, however, is to look at the urban struggles of sanctuary cities, solidarity cities, and other urban initiatives that accommodate fellow inhabitants the nation state seeks to exclude, and explore how the associated social and political practices can be enshrined into law and translated into new frameworks of governance. Urban citizenship, emancipated from national citizenship, is one of these practices.

We need to be mindful, however, that citizenship is a two-sided sword. Citizenship is not only a mechanism of inclusion but also of exclusion (as Patti Lenard illustrated in her commentary). Likewise, urban autonomy can create an urban citizenship that is inclusive of all inhabitants, or that purposefully excludes parts of the population. More than a decade ago, the town of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, tried to tighten the rules around housing and employment in an effort to exclude non-status migrants. Around the same time, the Quebec town of Hérouxville introduced a “code of conduct” that prohibited the stoning of women although it does not have a significant Muslim population and nobody had proposed to introduce sharia law there. Since then, many towns and cities have enacted policies that seek to exclude migrants from the local community by instilling fear and denying them rights and access to basic services. If we focus too much on procedures of governance without simultaneously tackling questions of social exclusion and political oppression in fundamental ways, then the emancipation of urban citizenship can easily backfire.


  • Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, UK: Verso.
  • Bauder, Harald. 2017. Migration Borders Freedom. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Brown, Wendy. 2017. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty. New York: Zone Books.
  • Carens, Joseph H. 1987. “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.” The Review of Politics 49 (2): 251–73.
  • Dauvergne, Catherine. 2008. Making People Illegal: What Globalization Means for Migration and Law. Cambridge University Press.
  • De Genova, Nicholas. 2010. “The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and Freedom of Movement.” In The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and Freedom of Movement, edited by Nicholas De Genova and Nathalie Peutz, 33–64. Durham: Duke University Press.

Theorema Magnum MCMX: der algebraische Abschluß von Körpern [Mathlog]

Die Bezeichnung „Körper“ für eine unter den vier Operationen +,-,x,: abgeschlossene Menge reeller oder komplexer Zahlen wurde 1871 von Richard Dedekind eingeführt. Ohne den Namen waren algebraische Zahlkörper (endliche Erweiterungen der rationalen Zahlen) natürlich schon in den zahlentheoretischen Arbeiten von Gauß und Lagrange ebenso präsent gewesen wie auch in den Arbeiten von Abel und Galois über (Nicht)Auflösbarkeit algebraischer Gleichungen. Die algebraische Geometrie und insbesondere die Theorie algebraischer Kurven war von Brill und Noether seit den 1870er Jahren auf dem Begriff des Funktionenkörpers einer algebraischen Kurve aufgebaut worden. Die abstrakte Definition eines Körpers kam aber erst 1893 bei Heinrich Weber vor, der auch die erste Behandlung der Galois-Theorie als Theorie von Körpererweiterungen (statt von Lösungen polynomieller Gleichungen) gab.

In Arbeiten des 19. Jahrhunderts waren Zahlkörper und Funktionenkörper (und gegebenenfalls noch endliche Körper) in unterschiedlichen Kapiteln behandelt worden. Ernst Steinitz‘ 1910 in Crelle‘s Journal veröffentlichte Arbeit Algebraische Theorie der Körper war die erste, die von der abstrakten Definition eines Körpers ausgehend eine allgemeine Theorie entwickelte. Als Ziel gab er im Vorwort aus, eine Übersicht über alle möglichen Körpertypen gewinnen und ihre Beziehungen untereinander in ihren Grundzügen feststellen zu wollen.

In der Arbeit studierte er die Eigenschaften von Körpern und definierte Konzepte wie den Primkörper, die Charakteristik eines Körpers und den Transzendenzgrad einer Körpererweiterung. Er entdeckte, dass in positiver Charakteristik ein irreduzibles Polynom dennoch mehrfache Nullstellen haben kann und man deshalb zwischen separablen und inseparablen Erweiterungen unterscheiden muß – die klassische Theorie funktioniert nur für separable Erweiterungen. Körper, deren endliche Erweiterungen alle separabel sind, bezeichnete er als vollkommene Körper.

Sein wichtigstes Resultat war der Beweis, dass jeder Körper K einen algebraisch abgeschlossenen Erweiterungskörper (also einen Erweiterungskörper L, in dem jedes nichtkonstante Polynom eine Nullstelle besitzt) hat – die abstrakte Version zum Fundamentalsatz der Algebra. (Für die rationalen Zahlen war ein algebraischer Abschluß natürlich lange bekannt, nämlich der Körper der algebraischen Zahlen.)

Zu einem einzelnen Polynom P kann man leicht eine algebraische Erweiterung finden, in der das Polynom eine Nullstelle hat: man betrachtet einen irreduziblen Faktor f von P und bildet den Erweiterungskörper K[x]/(f). Im Falle des Primkörpers Fp konnte Steinitz durch sukzessive Anwendung dieser Konstruktion für jede Menge von Polynomen mit Koeffizienten in Fp die Existenz einer solchen Erweiterung beweisen, insbesondere also durch Anwendung auf die Menge aller Polynome die Existenz des algebraischen Abschlusses von Fp.

Um für beliebige Körper die Existenz und (bis auf Isomorphie) Eindeutigkeit des algebraischen Abschlusses zu beweisen, benötigte er allerdings eine transfinite Induktion, in heutiger Sprache das (damals noch nicht bekannte) Lemma von Zorn, welches zum (erst wenige Jahre zuvor von Zermelo formulierten) Auswahlaxiom äquivalent ist. Aus der Einleitung seiner Arbeit:

Die hierbei [dem Existenzbeweis bei Primkörpern] verwendete Methode […] erfordert keine Prinzipien, die nicht von allen Mathematikern anerkannt würden. Anders steht es mit dem Nachweis, daß unsere Aufgabe, sofern man noch fordert, das der Erweiterungskörper keine überflüssigen Elemente enthält, im wesentlichen nur eine Lösung besitzt. Dieser Beweis kann z. B. schon für den Körper der rationalen Zahlen nicht ohne Verwendung des Auswahlprinzips geführt werden. Dieses Prinzip erscheint auch unvermeidlich, wenn man den Beweis der Existenz einer algebraisch abgeschlossenen Erweiterung für jeden beliebigen Körper führen will. Der auf dem Auswahlprinzip beruhende Satz von Zermelo bildet ein wichtiges Hilfsmittel für diesen Beweis. – Noch stehen viele Mathematiker dem Auswahlprinzip ablehnend gegenüber. Mit der zunehmenden Erkenntnis, daß es Fragen in der Mathematik gibt, die ohne dieses Prinzip nicht entschieden werden können, dürfte der Widerstand gegen dasselbe mehr und mehr schwinden. Dagegen erscheint es im Interesse der Reinheit der Methode zweckmäßig, das genannte Prinzip so weit zu vermeiden, als die Natur der Frage seine Anwendung nicht erfordert. Ich habe mich bemüht, diese Grenze scharf hervortreten zu lassen.



Only a Court Established by Law Can Be an Independent Court

In the preliminary ruling delivered on 19 November 2019 in Joined Cases C-585/18, C-624/18 and 625/18, A.K. and others, the European Court of Justice established a detailed method for assessing the independence (or lack thereof) of courts. The judicial independence test laid down by the ECJ, however, may not be entirely fit for the purpose of assessing the lawfulness of courts and judges which are established and appointed on the basis of flawed procedures by bodies arguably violating basic judicial independence requirements as established in EU law. The ECJ appears to limit the required verification under EU law to the issue of independence only. Instead, the reviewing body should, first, check whether the challenged court (judge) is “established by law” and only then, if necessary, follow up on the examination of its independence. Today, the Polish Supreme Court has the opportunity to step up and give full effect to that criterion.

1. Background

The references for a preliminary ruling brought by the Polish Supreme Court related to the verification of independence of the Disciplinary Chamber of that Court. It had been created and staffed in 2018, as part of the controversial and arguably unconstitutional changes introduced in the Polish judicial system to strengthen the influence of the legislative and executive bodies over the judiciary. The independence test established by the ECJ built on its previous case law and aimed in particular to enable the Supreme Court to determine whether the Disciplinary Chamber satisfies the judicial independence requirements established in EU law and, accordingly, whether it is a “court” within the meaning of EU law.

On the basis of the approach and key factors laid down in the ECJ preliminary ruling, the Supreme Court (Chamber of Labour and Social Security) already issued three rulings: one on 5 December 2019 (Case III PO 7/18) and two on 15 January 2020 (Cases III PO 8/18 and III PO 9/18). In all three of them it held that the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, due to its lack of independence, is not a court within the meaning of EU law. The ECJ ruling was also referred to by the Supreme Court’s Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs which arguably lacks independence as well. In a resolution of 8 January 2020 (Case I NOZP 3/19), while pretending to follow the A.K. judgment, the Chamber attempted to limit it considerably stating that: (1) control is not possible ex officio, but only at the request of a party; (2) determination of the lack of independence of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), which has been suspended by the ENCJ in 2018 for its lack of independence, is not sufficient – it is necessary to determine the lack of independence of the specific judge nominated by the KRS.

Due to differences that have already arisen in the various compositions of the Supreme Court, on 23 January 2020 the Supreme Court, in an enlarged composition of three “old” chambers (without the two “new” chambers appointed back in 2018) is meant to resolve these inconsistencies and set a binding standard for other Polish courts in the application of the ECJ ruling. It remains unclear whether this decision will be adopted by the Supreme Court as scheduled and, if so, whether the executive and legislative bodies will comply with it, as they take a number of measures to prevent the Supreme Court from sitting or preclude implementation of the decision (e.g. groundless requests to the politically captured Constitutional Tribunal or unfounded decisions on interim measures, etc.).

2. The “independence test” vis-à-vis the “establishment test”

Both Article 6 (1) ECHR and Article 47 of the EU Charter indicate the “establishment by law” as the first, most preliminary requirement for a court, and the guarantee of a fair trial. The verification should therefore begin with the question: is the court established by law? If the answer is yes, it is only then that the examination continues, i.e. whether the court is independent, and then, if it is impartial. If the court is not established by law, the examination should be discontinued. Nothing else needs to be checked in that case, because there is no object of inspection anymore, since there is no court (judge). Once the latter is determined, the test should come to an end and the authority carrying out the verification could then possibly define further consequences of the act (or perhaps a non-act) of the non-court (non-judge).

For the time being, the perspective as adopted in the A.K. ruling suggests that it is the “independence” factor that should be assessed and qualify or disqualify a body as a court. The test specified by the ECJ starts “too late” from the point of view of the guarantees of Article 6 (1) ECHR and Article 47 of the EU Charter. When assessing the circumstances of the creation of a court or the appointment of a judge, the ECJ links them, in this ruling, with the guarantee of independence, yet it does not link them directly to the requirement that the court (judge) is to “be established by law”.

Thus, the verification of whether an authority is a court, or a person is a judge, does not begin with the very first question that should indeed be asked. That question is overlooked and the assessment focuses on the next step of examining the qualities of the court (the judge). This lowers the level of protection of the judiciary from the point of view of the rule of law, and consequently, may adversely affect the exercise of the individual right to a court.

It is fair to note, however, that the two tests are not entirely separated from each other, as the “independence test” may involve elements of the “establishment test”, e.g. related to the mode or circumstances of appointment of judges (see ECJ, A.K., paras. 127 and 146). Thus, the requirements relating to the establishment test, may, to some extent, be indirectly reviewed under the independence test via control of relevant external and internal factors associated with judicial independence.

Nevertheless, the difference between the “establishment test” and the “independence test” may often be crucial. A finding that a court (a judge) is not established by law may be possible on the basis of objective criteria not directly related to the individual court (judge). In line with the established case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the finding of a flagrant violation of law in the process of establishing the court (or appointing the judge) would be sufficient. It does not necessarily be related to the particular person. Whereas the assessment of independence, as indicated by the ECJ, is indeed construed as a more individualized concept of a verification which takes account of particular considerations related to the circumstances in which that very court was created (or judge appointed), the functioning of the body as well as its perception (appearance) in society and by the litigants. Such an assessment is by its nature more complex and difficult, and may eventually lead to differing opinions on similar situations reached by different bodies carrying out the verification.

The approach adopted so far is methodologically questionable, since it is incomplete. It allows for cases where it will not be proven that the relevant specific court, or specific unit within the relevant court, or a specific judge or group of judges are not independent, even though there may well be a violation of the “established by law” requirement.

3. A court “established by law”

Rooted in the very principle of the rule of law, the expression “established by law” refers not only to the legislative basis for the existence of the judicial body, but also to its composition in each case it considers (see ECtHR, Lavents v Latvia, paras. 82 and 114; ECtHR, Ilatovskiy v Russia, para. 36; General Court of the EU, FV v Council, para. 68). Thus the requirement to establish the “court” by law entails, in particular, the requirement that a “judge” sitting in that court, be appointed by law. The judicial bodies which are composed with the participation of unlawfully appointed persons will therefore not meet the requirement of Article 6 (1) ECHR and, consequently, Article 47 of the EU Charter.

There are two basic implications for the assessment of the legality of an individual judge or specific court stemming from the “establishment” criterion: (a) the law should determine the substantive criteria and procedure for judicial appointments, and (b) that law must indeed be strictly observed (ECtHR, Ilatovskiy v Russia, paras. 40-41; General Court of the EU, FV v Council, paras. 74-75). The requirement that the judge is lawfully appointed, eventually is meant to safeguard judicial independence from illegitimate interference of the political powers (ECtHR, Gorguiladzé v Georgia, para. 69; ECtHR, Pandjikidzé v Georgia, para. 105; General Court of the EU, FV v Council, para. 68). It provides a genuine basis for the independence and impartiality of the person appointed as a judge. However, in order to find that there is no “judge”, it is sufficient to conclude that he or she has not been legally appointed. There is no further need to consider his or her lack of independence or impartiality. The failure to appoint a judge in accordance with the law results in the lack of a court established by law by definition. This constitutes an autonomous breach because of the primary nature of the requirement is infringed. The failure in this respect renders any further examination under Article 6 (1) ECHR or Article 47 of the EU Charter superfluous, since the guarantees embodied therein can no longer be met by an authority lacking the very attribute of being a court. The European Court of Human Rights held that such a body is not capable of guaranteeing a fair trial to the persons within its jurisdiction (ECtHR, Pandjikidzé v Georgia, para. 105; see also the Opinion of Advocate General Sharpston, Réexamen Simpson v Council, para. 63).

4. The nature and gravity of infringement – a flagrant violation of law

In the first place, it is for the domestic courts to assess whether an infringement of the law in the process of judicial appointments results in a refusal to recognize the person as a judge (ECtHR, DMD Group A.S. v. Slovakia, para. 61). They are better suited to interpret and apply provisions of domestic legislation. Here, the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly invoked the threshold of a “flagrant violation” of law as the one which leads to the conclusion that the appointment of a judge does not meet the European standard and constitutes a violation of Article 6 (1) EHCR (e.g. ECtHR, Lavents v Latvia, para. 114; ECtHR, DMD Group A.S. v. Slovakia, para. 61; ECtHR, Guðmundur Andri Ástráðsson v Iceland, para. 100). The national court may therefore disqualify a person as a judge also for reasons which do not meet the threshold of a flagrant violation of law. It follows that the domestic body cannot consider a person appointed in flagrant breach of legal rules to be a lawful judge. In any case, the ECtHR will not be bound by the national court’s appraisal. The facts established by the domestic court may be subject to the ECtHR’s scrutiny and an autonomous assessment. In a chamber judgment in the case of Ástráðsson v. Iceland (currently pending before the Grand Chamber), the ECtHR considered the deficiencies in the appointment of a national judge to amount to a flagrant breach of law, even though the Icelandic Supreme Court classified them as irregularities that do not disqualify the judge.

The criterion of a flagrant breach of law may lack precision, yet national courts, as well as the ECtHR and the ECJ, have considerable experience in applying it. In principle, it refers to a process that is manifestly contrary to explicit legal rules. A manifest breach involves a striking discrepancy between the way in which the appointment process should have been carried out, and the actual way it had been carried out. The ECtHR also pointed to a possible intentional nature of the infringements and indicated that it takes into account whether the facts before it demonstrate that a breach was deliberate or, at a minimum, constituted a manifest disregard of the applicable national law (para. 102; the verification of intentionality of State authorities (their “true aims”) was also recommended by the ECJ in the context of making legislative changes in the judicial system, see ECJ, Commission v Poland, paras. 80 et seq.). Invoking both the rule of law and separation of powers, the Court determined in Ástráðsson the need to “look behind appearances and ascertain whether a breach of the applicable national rules on the appointment of judges created a real risk that the other organs of Government, in particular the executive, exercised undue discretion undermining the integrity of the appointment process to an extent not envisaged by the national rules in force at the material time” (para. 103).

Accordingly, the threshold of a flagrant violation means that the appointment process was flawed in a manner that would have had a substantial impact on (a) whether the process would have been completed at all – if someone was appointed; or (b) what the outcome of the process would have been – who would have been appointed. The concept of a flagrant breach of legal rules relates thus to the nature and gravity of the alleged breach (ECtHR, Guðmundur Andri Ástráðsson v Iceland, para. 102). It provides a rigorous category which is meant to distinguish between ordinary irregularities and the infringements so fundamental that the decision reached becomes unacceptable. A flagrant violation of law leads to the nullification of the results of the appointment procedure and denies legitimacy to the person thus appointed.

5. The Polish context

The criterion of lack of a court established by law resulting from a breach of law in the judges’ appointment process could be argued to be as indispensable and possibly more appropriate than the independence test, to examine the controversial judicial appointments made to the Supreme Court and in particular to the two new chambers established in 2018. The “established by law” test could also be applied to the (unconstitutional) appointment to the Constitutional Tribunal of duplicate-judges, that is, persons elected to the positions previously lawfully taken.

For example, and as a kind of non-exhaustive illustration, in the selection and appointment of judges to the newly created chambers of the Supreme Court, at least the following breaches of the rules relevant for the nomination process can be identified, and it may be argued that each of them meets the threshold of a flagrant violation of law:

  • the process was initiated by the act of the President of the Republic without the necessary counter-signature on the part of the Prime Minister – a requirement stemming directly from the Constitution that no ordinary legislation could have exempted and in fact did not exempt;
  • submission by the KRS of its resolutions containing requests on the nomination to judicial positions to the President of the Republic before they became final, i.e., before the deadline for the interested parties to appeal them had expired;
  • failure of the KRS to transfer an appeal from its resolution to the Supreme Administrative Court, which had jurisdiction to consider it;
  • failure of the KRS and the President of the Republic to comply with a decision on interim measures issued by the Supreme Administrative Court that suspended the implementation of the KRS resolution pending the appeal proceedings.

The “establishment test” can also be invoked in order to evaluate judicial nominations made with the participation of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) after it was re-staffed in 2018, if it is determined that the election of new judges-members was made in violation of legal rules. In the latter context it is sufficient to point to: (1) the premature termination of the four-year term of office of previous judges-members of the KRS guaranteed by the Constitution; (2) election of new judges-members of the KRS by the Sejm, in excess of the powers explicitly attributed to the parliamentary body by the Constitution (previously these members were elected by the peers).

In the above cases it may be superfluous to examine the issue of independence. The finding of a (flagrant) violation of the law in the process of appointing a judge should be sufficient. Naturally, one needs to be aware of the possible (massive) consequences of such a concept, but that consideration should not affect the mechanism of verification itself, that is, the logical sequence of steps to be taken and questions to be asked. Should such an assessment lead to significant negative consequences for the system of justice or for the domestic legal order, the adoption of transitional legislation may be the appropriate remedial mechanism. One cannot however reward repeated flagrant violations of national and European law in the name of legal certainty.

6. Why has the ECJ confined itself to the independence test?

It is only fair to ask, why the ECJ in its ruling of 19 November 2019, adopted a formula which seems to limit the examination of a “court” to the attribute of independence. It has done so primarily because that is how the preliminary references were formulated by the Supreme Court. This can be reduced to the following wording: Is the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court an independent court within the meaning of EU law? (paras. 51–52) It would have been more accurate to phrase them, or expand them, in the following way: Is the Disciplinary Chamber a court established by law within the meaning of EU law? In the judicial dialogue mechanism based on Article 267 TFEU it is for the national court to determine the content of the questions asked. An incomplete ECJ answer, too narrow for the genuine task facing the national court, is, in the first place, due to the scope of the references for a preliminary ruling.

It could be argued that the Court may have perhaps reformulated the questions, as it does frequently, yet extending them to cover the elements not explicitly included by the referring court, could again be challenged, considering that the test of “establishment by law” is a different one from the independence test. Nevertheless, I would argue that the ECJ, when responding to the questions raised, could have supplemented them – or more accurately, “preceded” them, by pointing to the test of establishment by law. Firstly, as has already become a tradition, especially noticeable in cases involving changes in the Polish judiciary, the ECJ offers a more general part in its rulings, a kind of manual of legal standards which are applicable to the appraisal of issues brought before the Court. It did similarly in this ruling as well (see paras. 115 et seq.). It could perhaps have added a paragraph to indicate a more complete test. Secondly, it would only be consistent with the objectives of references for a preliminary ruling made in these cases by the domestic court, to mention additionally the element of “establishment by law”. The intention of the requesting court was to make an assessment of the lawfulness of a judicial body. And that includes the establishment test. Ultimately, the content of the ECJ’s replies was thus fully valid, yet not sufficient.

The ECJ will still have an opportunity to come back to these issues, for example, in cases C-487/19 W.Ż. and C-508/19 Prokurator Krajowy, in which the Supreme Court does formulate the preliminary references to the ECJ in the “establishment test” language. In those references the Supreme Court itself pointed to the criterion of a “flagrant violation of domestic law” as the one suggested for carrying out the test. Therefore, anticipating the ECJ’s response, which should not be different from the position of the European Court of Human Rights, the Supreme Court could incorporate this test into its reasoning.

7. Conclusions

There are essentially three ways to improve the ECJ’s test of verification of a court and structure it correctly according to the model indicated above. First, the Supreme Court may adjust the test itself by supplementing it with a stage preceding the test described in the ruling of 19 November 2019. It should be emphasized that such a method is absolutely appropriate, it is permissible on the basis of the ECJ judgment and ensures full respect for it. There is nothing in the ECJ ruling that would prohibit or hinder the addition of a logically preceding stage. Secondly, it is possible to wait for the ECJ to reply to subsequent references for a preliminary ruling in which the questions have already been formulated from the perspective of examining the establishment of the court. It is unlikely that the Court in Luxembourg would here depart from the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights with regard to a court established by law. Thirdly, a party to a domestic proceeding which does not agree with the finding, based solely on the independence test, that the body which adjudicated the case was a “court”, is still authorized to lodge an individual complaint with the Strasbourg Court alleging a violation of Article 6 (1) ECHR.

The most appropriate way appears to be the first option. It enables to settle the issue on the lowest possible level, that is, the domestic one, unless this proves impossible due to non-legal reasons. The second and particularly the third option imply a significant elapse of time and a prolonged situation of legal uncertainty.

*Outrage over reports EU-funding linked to forced labour in Eritrea* ❝Human Rights Watch (HRW) has…

Outrage over reports EU-funding linked to forced labour in Eritrea

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised the European Union over its funding of an infrastructure project in the brutal dictatorship of Eritrea.

The scheme, which received €20 million from Brussels, was partially built by forced labour, according to the New York Times (

The newspaper also claimed the EU had no way of monitoring the project.

“For the EU to rely on the government to do its monitoring, I think it is incredibly problematic, especially when obviously some of the issues the EU will be discussing with the government are around labour force,” said Laetitia Bader from HRW.

“And as we know the government has quite bluntly said that it will continue to rely on national service conscripts.”

The funding of the road project in Eritrea is part of the EU Trust Fund for Africa, created to address the #root_causes of migration.

Yet Eritrea has an elaborate system of indefinite forced “national service” that makes people try to flee, especially youngsters.

For the EU, democratic reforms are no longer a condition for financial aid.

“The EU has made support for democracy a more prominent objective in its relations with African countries since the early 2000s, I would say,” said Christine Hackenesch from the German Development Institute.

“And the EU has put more emphasis on developing its instruments to support democratic reforms. But the context now for democracy support in Africa and globally is a very different one because there is more of a competition of political models with China and other actors.”

The EU Commission said that it was aware that conscripts were used for the road project - but that Brussels funded only material and equipment, not labour.
#asile #migrations #réfugiés #Trust_Fund #Erythrée #EU #UE #Trust_Fund_for_Africa #dictatures #travail_forcé #aide_au_développement #développement

Ajouté à la métaliste externalisation :

Et à la métaliste migrations/développement :

ping @isskein @karine4

@simplicissimus : j’ai fait un petit tour sur internet à la recherche du communiqué/rapport de HRW concernant cette histoire, mais j’ai pas trouvé... pas le temps de chercher plus... si jamais tu as un peu de temps pour voir ça serait très bienvenu... merci !

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