REPOWER EU – A challenge and an opportunity

By Maria Barros Silva (Associate Lawyer at SRS Advogados – Energy and Competition Law) and Nuno Calaim Lourenço (Managing Associate at SRS Advogados – Energy and Competition Law)

1. Context

The energy sector is cyclical by nature. History offers several examples of market expansion followed by very sudden contractions. Unfortunately, the current crisis differs from previous ones. To put things into dire perspective, the European Union (“EU”) heavily relies on fossil fuel (gas, oil and coal) imports for its energy needs, amounting to circa 60% of gross energy consumption in the past 5 years. The EU imports 90% of its gas, with Russia previously accounting for 45% of those imports, as well as for 25% of oil and 45% of coal. Although European domestic production of renewable energy sources has increased significantly in recent years, the intermittent nature of the so-called “green energy”, coupled with limited renewable-energy storage and a drastic and intransigent reduction in the production of EU coal, lignite and gas has meant that the EU remains energy dependent.

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The future of Europe: “citizens with real experience” and the European Political Community

By Pedro Madeira Froufe (Editor) and Tiago Sérgio Cabral (Managing Editor)

1. The expression “citizens with real experience”, was used by President Emmanuel Macron in his speech on 9 May 2022 at the European Parliament.[1] 

This speech was delivered at the European Parliament’s traditional Europe Day session. This year, this session also marked the closing of the Conference on the Future of Europe. In fact, President Macron used that expression, addressing all those who were involved in the work of the Conference, highlighting the democratic exercise that meant the active participation of citizens, concretised in several proposals. According to Macron, these proposals are creative, as indeed the times we live in in Europe require.

2. The first striking feature of this speech has to do directly with the temporal contextualisation of President Macron’s programmatic ideas. A time of war. A time of war that effectively demands “creative efforts” in the search for European responses to the crisis that, from the outset, erupted because of the war. “Creative efforts’ which, undoubtedly and according to Macron, are more necessary today than they were in the past.

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Protecting Children’s Rights in the Digital Age: the new European strategy for a better internet for kids (BIK+)

By Maria Inês Costa (Master in Human Rights from UMinho)

Given the rapid technological evolution in the so-called Digital Decade, and the need for legal regulation in view of the emerging needs and circumstances that this evolution has brought about, the European Union has been taking a position to strengthen the protection of children’s rights in this context. One of the most recent paradigmatic examples of this approach is the new European strategy for a better internet for kids (BIK+), published in May 2022, about two years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which increased the use of digital media.

According to Article 24(2) of the CFREU, “in all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration[1], and to that extent, the digital transition should be carried out keeping in mind the advantages that these bring to children, for example, as a source of inexhaustible knowledge, but also the dangers it entails and the exacerbation of inequalities it leads to, when there is no governance of its use and access.

As per item 3 of the UN’s General comment N.º 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment,[2] the children consulted asked questions regarding the new developments in the digital age that directly affect them – “I would like to obtain clarity about what really happens with my data… Why collect it? How is it being collected?”; “I am… worried about my data being shared” – and in the subsequent paragraph (item 4) one can read: “innovations in digital technologies affect children’s lives and their rights in ways that are wide-ranging and interdependent (…)”.

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The material competence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and its extension to organized crime as terrorism, human and drug trafficking

Catarina Vilarinho (Master in EU Law, School of Law, University of Minho)

1. Initial thoughts

The start of operation of a new European body such as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, hereinafter EPPO, on 1 June 2021 is a sign that the Member States of the European Union (EU) are increasingly aligning themselves to create a stronger and more resilient Union, perhaps, in this case, due to the need to combat transnational crime, for which we will not find a sufficiently effective solution without strong and structured intervention at European level[1].

In this way, the battlefield is prepared for a battle of equal arms, as cross-border crime can now be tackled by an equally cross-border authority[2].

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Case C-205/22, C.D.A. Direct application by the national courts of the European Commission reports issued under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism

Dragoș Călin [Judge at the Bucharest Court of Appeal, Co-President of the Romanian Judges' Forum Association, Director of the Judges' Forum Review (Revista Forumul Judecătorilor)]. 

Very recently, on March 10, 2022, the Alba Iulia Court of Appeal – Administrative and Fiscal Litigation Section ordered the referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union, based on art. 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, with a new preliminary ruling in close connection with the Rule of law (Case C-205/22, C.D.A.).

In fact, the Romanian court’s request tends to ascertain mainly whether, in the interpretation of the CJEU, the principle of judicial independence enshrined in the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU with reference to Article 2 TEU and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the principle of sincere cooperation, laid down in Article 4 TEU, preclude a national provision, such as that of Article 148(2) of the Romanian Constitution, as interpreted by the Romanian Constitutional Court, by Decision No 390/2021, according to which national courts cannot take account of the provisions of European Commission Decision 2006/928 and the recommendations made in the CVM Reports for the implementation of the benchmarks, on the ground that “national courts are not empowered to cooperate with a political institution of the European Union.”

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Did the court of last resort apply the CJEU preliminary ruling correctly? In case of EU law breach, what to do in the absence of domestic remedy? – A first appraisal of the pending case F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Others

Cinzia Peraro  (Senior Researcher of European Union Law, University of Bergamo - Italy)
 

I. Background

The Italian administrative judge of last resort (Consiglio di Stato) submitted on 21 April 2021[1] a request for a preliminary ruling in the case F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd and Others v Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (C-261/21).

This case falls within the long-running Avastin-Lucentis affair that concerns an agreement restricting competition concluded in breach of Article 101 TFEU between certain companies operating in the pharmaceutical sector. The Italian Antitrust Authority prohibited the continuation of the contested conduct and imposed administrative fines. The companies appealed against this measure before the administrative judge, who rejected them. Within the proceedings at second instance, the Council of State referred a number of preliminary questions of interpretation to the Court of Justice. After the preliminary ruling delivered on 23 January 2018 (C-179/16), the Italian administrative judge dismissed the appeals, thus upholding the decision at first instance and, accordingly, the contested measure. However, the parties asked the Council of State to revoke its appeal judgment, alleging, inter alia, a manifest breach of the principles of law affirmed by the Court of Justice in the previous preliminary ruling and asking to make a new referral to Luxembourg. The administrative judge thus suspended the proceedings and, for a second time, referred to the Court of Justice other three questions.

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The other side of War: disinformation

Ricardo de Macedo Menna Barreto (Guest Professor at the University of Minho Law School) 
 

Last Tuesday, March 8, 2022, during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Josep Borrell, EU diplomacy chief, warned that the Russian government will systematically lie about Ukraine’s military situation. At his intervention, Borrell defended that: “(…)accompany Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, spreading false information among their own population about why this invasion has taken place and what is the situation in Ukraine(…) it not just bombing houses, infrastructure, the bodies of the people; they are bombing their minds, they are bombing their spirits”.[1] The EU diplomacy chief underlines a problem that, in his opinion, is getting worse as our lifetime goes by: the daily battle in the informational field. A battle whose main characteristic is the manipulation of information, a particular form of abuse of power, that is, of social domain. According to Teun van Dijk, manipulation is a form of illegitimate influence, achieved through discourse, in which manipulators make the manipulated believe in (or even do) things that are of special interest to the manipulator (and usually against the interests of the manipulated). In this sense, we can consider discursive manipulation as a complex social phenomenon, involving interaction and abuse of power (domination) between certain groups and social actors. It is also a complex phenomenon, taking into account that it presents itself in two ways: a) as a cognitive phenomenon, since it implies manipulation of the participants’ minds; b) as a discursive-semiotic phenomenon, since it can be expressed in the form of text, conversation or visual messages.[2]   

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Once again about the priority of the EU law in Romania: “Amédée ou comment s’en débarrasser”

Dragoș Călin [Judge at the Bucharest Court of Appeal, Co-President of the Romanian Judges' Forum Association, Director of the Judges' Forum Review (Revista Forumul Judecătorilor)]. 
 

1. Introduction

In “Amédée, or How to Get Rid of It (Amédée ou comment s’en débarrasser)”, written by Eugène Ionesco (“Théâtre, Volume I”, Paris, Gallimard, 1954), Amédée and his wife Madeleine discuss how to deal with a continually growing corpse in the other room. That corpse is causing mushrooms to sprout all over the apartment and is apparently arousing suspicion among the neighbours. The audience is given no clear reason why the corpse is there.

Like Amédée and Madeleine, in the “priority of the EU law in Romania” saga, we are simply in a play in which nothing changes, but everything transforms.

Under pressure from the Constitutional Court’s decisions, ordinary judges refuse to apply CJEU judgments, and the example is provided by the High Court of Cassation and Justice and Craiova Court of Appeal.

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Analyzing informal care from an EU perspective

Maria Inês Costa (Master’s student in Human Rights at UMinho). 

A 2018 report by the European Commission highlights that the European Pillar of Social Rights “makes explicit the commitment to people providing care, including their rights to flexible working and access to care services“,[1] bearing in mind that data suggests that most long-term care in Europe – around 80% –  is provided by informal carers, this is, people who care for dependent or elderly people, to whom they offer support in basic and/or instrumental activities of daily living. These caregivers are not trained in health care and presumably do not receive compensation for doing this work, neither do they possess a formal work agreement.[2]

In fact, the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, whose goals are to be achieved by 2030, addresses the fact that the resilience of long-term care is being put to the test, not only by the additional strain of the pandemic, but also by demographic trends that suggest an increasingly ageing European society, requiring rapid and effective responses in terms of health care services, their quality and distribution across the territory.[3] Eurocarers, the European network representing informal carers and their organizations, reacted positively to the proposal of the European Pillar of Social Rights, highlighting in a written contribution that support provided to informal carers was key to the sustainability of the health and long-term care systems through participation and integration policies focusing on their well-being, employment and empowerment.[4] In a letter sent to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in April 2021, the European network insisted on the importance of implementing the principles outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights, and called for the urgent development of a global EU strategy on care, comprehensive enough to address all aspects of formal and informal care, including the current shortages in the informal care sector and the need to ensure support for informal carers to improve their situation, given their crucial role in providing care across the EU.[5]

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