European Union

The German Constitutional Court, following a complaint by two thousand German citizens, determined that, pending the final decision, the German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, could not promulgate the Own Resources Decision that allows the European Commission to issue bonds on the markets to finance the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The decision had already been approved by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The complainants argue that the way in which the RFF is financed violates the EU’s obligation to maintain a balanced budget and consider the planned issuance to be a "flagrant violation of the EU Treaty", namely of article 311 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). This is not the first time and probably will not be the last that the Bundesverfassungsgericht questions, and tests, the limits of European competences and the relationship between German and European constitutional sovereignties. It was so with the Solange judgments, in the decades of 1970 and 80; in examining the constitutionality of the law ratifying the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and in the assessment of the law ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009; and last but not the least, last year, the Court questioned the European Central Bank’s secondary markets purchase programme for public sector assets, ultimately, drawing upon itself powers conferred by the Treaties exclusively on the Court of Justice of the EU, thus threatening the foundations of an integration legal order established over 70 years. Without the Own Resources Decision, which must be approved by all Member-States, the Commission will not be able to issue the bonds needed to finance the RRF. To avoid adding a serious economic crisis to the pandemic one, aggravated in Europe by the shortcomings of the European Commission’s management of the vaccines purchase, the Bundesverfassungsgericht should provide an urgent response. In a way, the German Constitutional Court has built itself up, in European matters, as a defender of a strict constitutional nationalism, incompatible with Germany’s commitment to European integration. Once again, the long-term future of the European Union will be decided in the short-term response of the German Constitutional Court.

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The Draghi government has taken office at a time when the labour market, characterised by the decisive influence of information technologies and a high degree of mobility, is undergoing great changes. The emergence of the pandemic, which had been underway for almost a year when the Draghi government was sworn in, has hit the labour market with the destruction of jobs and the failure to create new ones, while at the same time accentuating the disruptive processes underway (IT, mobility). The phenomenon is supranational, and the European Union is acting on two levels: facing up to the emergency (SURE, Youth initiative, EU Next Generation, etc.) and intervening on the basis of a strategy focused on investment in information technologies. It is these technologies which are changing production processes and how trades and professions are carried out, reshaping the labour market while making it necessary for workers to upskill and have IT profiles and creating a strong asymmetry between workers and their employment prospects. The Premier’s speech and the government’s programme are taking this problem into account: on the one hand, they have announced reforms of the assegno di riallocazione reallocation allowance and of job centres, on the other hand, they are talking about strengthening infrastructure (broadband, 5G) and the transversality of the Digital Transition. All of which seems appropriate. The hope is that all this will be done in the European strategic context and that the employment market becomes the omnipresent pivot of the transversal transition.

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The paper aims to analyze the judgment C-367/19 with which the Court of Justice expressed itself on the age-old problem that afflicts the public procurement system: the tenders at price of € 0 and the legal basis for their exclusion. The case dealt with by the Court concerns the preliminary ruling proposed by the National Commission for the review of the procedures for the award of public contracts as to whether it was possible to base the provision for the exclusion of a bid at price of € 0 on Article 2, par. 1, § 5, of Directive 2014/24 / EU.

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The essential points of the reasoning developed in this article are: Covid-19 has brought to the fore the role played by the administration as a bridge in the (conflictual) confrontation between the power of science and political power; the health emergency has cast light on the importance of the functioning of parliamentary institutions for the defence of democracy because the executive branch (objectively) gets the upper hand. The administration of the European Parliament is a very interesting case study in this respect because it has succeeded in coping with the emergency thanks to several factors; EPA implemented a programme of structural digitisation of the European Parliament in recent years. Finally, EPA worked for activating an administrative capacity to manage the “unprecedented measures” that had to be adopted: this capacity was achieved by carrying out the actions within the strict framework of the governance of the European Parliament and under its permanent scrutiny.

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The field of EU direct administrative law is steadily growing in importance, and issues relating to the consequences of procedural irregularities on the outcome of the procedure are becoming increasingly relevant. The question of when such a violation remains inconsequential – i.e., does not lead to the act being quashed during judicial proceedings, either because the error was rectified or because it can be considered irrelevant – is particularly important, and EU case law has developed a complex jurisprudence in this regard. The aim of this contribution is to systematize this case law with regard to the instruments of rectification and irrelevance of procedural irregularities. Moreover, it compares these legal instruments to their counterparts in Member States’ administrative systems. This comparison shows that EU courts have not co-opted a particular system currently in use in a Member State, but that they often use roughly similar criteria to decide whether an error leads to the annulment of the final decision.

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On 9th December 2020, the Portuguese Constitutional Court (‘PCC’) referred its first question for preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’). In a case allegedly entailing the need to balance different Treaty rules such as anti-discriminatory EU tax law (Article 110 TFEU) and environmental protection (Article 191 TFEU), the PCC acknowledged its nature as a court against whose decisions there is no judicial remedy under national law and referred the matter to the CJEU. This ruling shall be read in combination with the judgment in Case no. 422/2020 of 15th July 2020, where the PCC recognized the CJEU’s exclusive competence to interpret and assess the validity of EU law, consequently declaring its lack of jurisdiction to do so. After summarizing the main facts of the case, this article aims at analysing its consequences for the relationship between the PCC and the CJEU.

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The trade agreement with the UK has avoided the worst-case scenario, but it is complex and contingent. It establishes freedom of trade in goods, without avoiding the increase in customs bureaucracy. It defines an equality platform, but it provides for compensatory measures (retaliatory?) in case of departure from the standards in force. There is virtually no agreement for services, negotiations must continue. There is a moratorium on fisheries until 2026, with a gradual reduction in catches in the UK UK Exclusive Economic Zone. Europeans can travel without a visa for 90 days, but there is no general agreement on mobility. In essence, the United Kingdom becomes a third country for the European Union and the rules on the application of the Treaty and conflict resolution, based on arbitration and compensatory measures, may result in a permanent negotiation and dispute procedure.

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Trademark protection in the European Union aims at helping businesses to distinguish their goods or services in overcoming national barriers that still persist in many areas of intellectual property protection. Deciding on European trademarks, EUIPO (as well as its Boards of Appeal) is sometimes called upon to assess the existence of "bad faith", "public order" and "morality". The recent declaration of invalidity of the trademark of Banksy's "Flower Thrower" highlights how EU trademark law was conceived to also protect other closely interconnected rights: fundamental rights, competition rights, and the rights of "Third Parties". Their protection is therefore directly linked to the logical interpretation of "undetermined concepts" in the relevant context.

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Brexit represents a meaningful change within the legal and political framework of the EU-UK relationship. The current food and water security regulations, as well as the environmental impact assessment standards, could be considered at stake. Thus considered, this paper points out Brexit not just as a mere “breakdown” in the system in order to lower the contemporary established environmental standards. Indeed, potential environmental risks posed by Brexit could be effectively mitigated by applying the principle of non-regression, and simultaneously institutions can move forward adopting greener legal instruments and political actions inter alia creating new environmental governance and maintaining a high level of cooperation with the EU.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has provoked both in Italy and in Germany wide debates among scientists, scholars of multiple disciplines and public opinion. Of course, politics has played a fundamental role in the management of the health emergency: in Italy, “collective” health has been protected through the adoption of a very wide range of regulatory acts of different nature, not always suitable to guarantee a unitary protection. In Germany, the emergency crisis has been (more) successfully managed, with the sole exception of some problems that have emerged in the coordination between the Bund and Länder in the fight against the virus. This work will analyse, from a comparative point of view, the relationship between the legislative power and science in defining policies to combat the health emergency, focusing on the impact of such policies on the academic context.

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