Gender (in)equality in time of COVID-19

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 by Helena Ferraz, Master's student in Human Rights, UMinho


“The Captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintry frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits.”
Gabriel García Márquez[i]


Humanity sails in rough seas. It is possible to see from a distance the yellow flags. “Plague’s on board!” – leaders from all around the world announce. The sign of death and illness, unlike what Florentino Ariza did, is not just an artifice to take pleasure of Fermina Daza’s love without any kind of discomfort. This year’s rough reality makes humanity mourn the loss of another two hundred thousand lives – and, unfortunately, it is still not possible to see the redeeming light at the dark sea-line of uncertainties.

The coronavirus, an invisible and common enemy, understands us as what we unquestionably are: human beings. We share the same vessel – the planet Earth – but it is possible to take notice that the trail of destruction does not hit everyone in the same way. In exceptional times like the ones we live in, we are indeed faced with indigestible underground realities, left in the zone of the unsaid, of what is normal, natural, as if they are given realities, whose symbolic representation is culturally reproduced.

In this article, we will focus our analysis on the impacts of the pandemic in relation to the gender inequalities, specifically in relation to the sexual division of labor, and its consequences in the personal, family and professional life of women, with reference to the European Union legal framework on gender equality.
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1951 and 2020 – On Europe Day

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by Pedro Madeira Froufe, Editor

What does the year of 1951 have in common with 2020? For now, not much. Given the circumstances we live in, few periods of recent history have anything in common with the strange year of 2020, which closes the first fifth of the 21st century. The pandemic crisis exposed some fragilities and unimaginable weaknesses, until not so long ago, in the construction of our current lives. It is clear that we are still very far away from a conclusive ending to the crisis we are living; it is still too early to draw conclusions of a more philosophical character, or even structuring lessons! Moreover, in times of war, we cannot rest, and it is in some kind of contemporary war (at least relating some of its effects) in which we are currently moving, on a planetary scale. To some extent, we are, indeed, experiencing a type of third world war, with no formal declaration of war!

But let us return to the question at stake and place ourselves in the European context, rectius, of the European Union. It is important to remember that the 18th of April this year marked 69 years since France, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany and the three Benelux states (Belgium, Holland, and Luxemburg) formally signed the European integration papers. The Paris Treaty was signed on the 18th of April of 1951, which established the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), leading to the creation of the first common market which, then, covering fundamental raw materials for the so-called “war industry” (coal and steel), emerged loaded with symbolism, but also distrust in the various public opinions of the Member States that founded the project.
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Is the European Union’s legal framework ready for AI-enabled drone deliveries? A preliminary short assessment – from the Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/947/EU to data protection

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 by Marília Frias, Senior Associate at Vieira de Almeida & Associados
 and Tiago Cabral, Master in EU Law, University of Minho

1. As we are writing this short essay, a significant percentage of the world population is at home, in isolation, as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, for isolation to be effective, people should only leave their houses, when strictly necessary, for instance, to shop essential goods and, frequently, preventive measures include orders of closure directed to all non-essential businesses.

2. Unfortunately, the European Union (hereinafter, “EU”) is one of the epicentres of the pandemic. As a result, some European citizens are turning to e-commerce to buy goods not available in the brick-and-mortar shops that are still open. Meanwhile, others opt to bring their shopping into the online realm simply to reduce the risk of contact and infection. Currently, sustaining the market as best as possible under these conditions to avoid a (stronger) economic crisis should be one of the key priorities. Furthermore, with a growing number of people working remotely, it is also vital to guarantee that the necessary supplies can arrive in time and with no health-related concerns attached.

3. Nowadays, most delivery services work based on humans who physically get the product from point A and deliver it to point B. The system is more or less the same, whether the reader orders a package from China or delivery from the pizza place 5 minutes away from the reader’s house. Obviously, more people will be involved in the delivery chain in our first example, but it is still, at its core, a string of people getting the order from point A to point B. This is a challenge for those working in the delivery and transportation businesses who have to put their health on the line to ensure swift delivery of products to the ones who are at home.
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Produce more with less: CAP and digital divide

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by Isabel Espín, Professor at the Law School of Universidade de Santiago de Compostela


1. In a global perspective, the FAO Agenda calls attention to the increase in the world’s population, the rise in average income and the new consumer habits that will result in a greater demand for food in the coming decades, while the impact of climate change on natural resources makes it necessary to reduce the ecological footprint of our food production system. This sends the message that it will be necessary to improve both the productivity and the sustainability of the agricultural sector, which means that farmers will have to “produce more with less”.

Like any other productive sector, global agriculture is undergoing profound transformations related to new digital technologies and artificial intelligence, which gave rise to the concept of Smart Agriculture or Precision Agriculture, in other words, a modern farming management concept using digital techniques to monitor and optimise agricultural production processes.

The aim is to save costs, reduce environmental impact and produce more food, and for this purpose a number of technologies are made available to the farm “used for object identification, geo-referencing, measurement of specific parameters, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), connectivity, data storage and analysis, advisory systems, robotics and autonomous navigation”([i]).

2. In the case of the European Union, the 4.0 revolution in agriculture is also confronted with the particularities of a sector of the economy in constant crisis and always in search of a necessary revitalization. It should not be forgotten that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the most complex policies of the European Union, and which receives a significant share of the Community budget.
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Dumping in the internal market

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 by Maria Isabel Silva, Judge at the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Braga, Portugal


The term d
umping is associated with competition law and trade policy of the European Union (EU). It takes place when an exporter in a third country sells a particular product into the Union market at a price below its own market price provoking damages to the EU’s industry, which is demonstrated through an investigation procedure currently governed by Regulation (EU) No 2016/1036 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

Dumping is the result of the globalization of international markets, of predatory pricing by exporters that contaminate the internal market and the EU industry, therefore claiming action by the European institutions, Member States and entities such as OLAF (European Anti-Fraud Office), culminating in provisional or definitive anti-dumping duties as a means of counteracting this unfair commercial practice and protecting the interests of the EU industry in relation to the same or similar product. It is in this context that anti-dumping measures on such imports arise within the European Customs Area thus addressing the adverse effects of Dumping to which Regulation No 2016/1036 concerns.
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From Visual Arts to Virtual Arts – some insights about Law, Art & Technology

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 by Marcílio Franca, Professor at the Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil

Leonardo Da Vinci’s life and work show us that innovation and technology have always been close to art and artists. Over the past few decades, however, deep technological innovations are modifying art in strange, new ways. The development and access to new technologies have radically changed not only the ways of producing art but also the ways of consuming, preserving, collecting and restoring art nowadays. Obviously, all this has complex legal repercussions.

Right at the University of Minho, for example, the researcher and multimedia artist João Martinho Moura is a world reference in digital art and computational aesthetics. For the past 15 years, he has been adopting new digital ways to represent audiovisual artifacts, with special interest in the human body. Some of his award-winning works can be seen at  http://jmartinho.net/. Light art, lasers, AI created art, artist robots, e-museums are also good examples the ways in which technology is making its impact in the art world and in the legal systems.

The complexity of authorship and the relevance of the dematerialization of artwork in the field of contemporary visual arts have already secured the birth of at least three Digital Art Biennials. The older is “The Wrong Art Biennale” (https://thewrong.org), a global, digital event aiming to create, promote and push forward-thinking contemporary digital art among artists, curators, collectors and institutions located in virtual pavilions. There is also the International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN), in Montréal, created in 2012. The younger Digital Art Biennial will happen in Brazil for the first time in 2020, but was born ten years ago in Belo Horizonte, as a Digital Art Festival.
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Building the ECJ puzzle on judicial independence in a Union based on the rule of law (Commission v Poland in the light of ASJP)

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 by Alessandra Silveira, Editor


On 27 February 2018, the ECJ delivered its judgment in the
Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses case (C-64/16).[i] It is a judgment of far-reaching consequences for effective judicial protection and the rule of law within the European Union – and, arguably, for the construction of the legal-constitutional model that supports the European integration. Mainly because the question of judicial independence was assessed without any relevance having been given to the issue of whether or not the austerity measures in question were covered by EU law.[ii] It is worth recalling the circumstances of this case law to understand the following ECJ steps.

At the origin of the request for a preliminary ruling was a special administrative action brought before the Supremo Tribunal Administrativo (Supreme Administrative Court, Portugal) seeking the annulment of salary-reduction (administrative) measures of the judges of the Tribunal de Contas (Court of Auditors, Portugal). According to the Supremo Tribunal Administrativo, the measures for the temporary reduction in the amount of public sector remuneration, also applied to the members of the judiciary, were based on mandatory requirements for reducing the Portuguese State’s excessive budget deficit during the year 2011. The referring court therefore considered those measures as measures adopted within the framework of EU law or, at least, as being European in origin, on the ground that those requirements were imposed on the Portuguese Government by EU decisions granting financial assistance.

Besides, the legal action brought before the Supremo Tribunal Administrativo was accompanied with an opinion presented by me and my Colleague Pedro Froufe, two of the editors of this blog. The opinion intended to clarify the extent to which the subject matter fell within the scope of application of EU law, triggering the need to refer to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling.[iii] However, this did not play any role in the interpretation which led the Court to conclude that the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU was applicable in the case in question. This is the password to understand this new standard and the following ECJ steps on judicial independence, in order to Article 19 TEU gives concrete expression to the value of the rule of law affirmed in Article 2 TEU.
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The Proposal of a Directive on Whistleblowers’ protection, is the EU in the right path?

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 by Joana Whyte, Editorial Team

Technology … is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other[i]

Today’s society has become increasingly dependent on computer systems and the use of the Internet, making cybercrime an ever more pressing threat to the European Union (EU) and its Member States, being by nature a transnational type of crime, its complexity of its combat is undeniable. Nowadays we are all dependent on the internet and this dependency has made us vulnerable to the threat of cybercrime. There are several examples of this reality, the use of the email address as a preferential means of exchanging mail for personal or professional correspondence, store information in the cloud, publish personal and professional information on social networks, make payments or bank transfers, book trips or hotels and so on. If this dependence is accurate when speaking of our everyday lives, the same applies to the State and the European Institutions. They too have surrendered to the overwhelming power of the internet. For instance, our judicial system is totally dependent on computers and the internet.
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The impact of Brexit on the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union

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by Ana Torres Rego, Master's degree in EU Law of UMinho

The winning of the campaign “Vote Leave”, in the referendum of 23 June 2016 held with the view to expiry the United Kingdom’s accession Treaty, turned out to be one of the biggest challenges facing the modern history of the European Union.

For its turn, if on the occasion when Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union was invoked in 2016 the earlier speeches of the Britain Prime Minister Theresa May can be summarised as “Brexit means Brexit” – as an answer against free movement of people; in the recent past, the increased awareness of the high cost for all parties involved of a hard Brexit has opened space for dialogue and negotiation.

The change of direction noted from October 2016 to March 2017 is very clear in the formal communication[i] notifying the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union sent by Mrs. May to the European Council. That letter, where concerns related with the state of defence of the EU from security threats are strongly expressed, suggests first and foremost the British willingness to keep a special relation with the European Union in defence and security matters in order to ensure the status of security power for both among the potencies in the international order.
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Internet, e-evidences and international cooperation: the challenge of different paradigms

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by Bruno Calabrich, Federal circuit prosecutor (Brazil)


There is a crisis in the world today concerning e-evidences. Law enforcement authorities deeply need to access and analyze various kinds of electronic data for efficient investigations and criminal prosecutions. They need it not specifically for investigating and prosecuting so-called internet crimes: virtually any crime today can be committed via the internet; and even those which aren’t executed using the web, possibly can be elucidated by information stored on one or another node of the internet. The problem is that enforcement authorities not always, nor easily, can access these data[i], as the servers where they are stored are frequently located in a different country. Thus, international cooperation is frequently a barrier to overcome so that the e-evidence can be obtained in a valid and useful way. And, today, the differences around the world in the legal structures available for this task may not be helping a lot.

The most commonly known instruments for obtaining electronic data stored abroad are the MLATs – Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties –, agreements firmed between two countries for cooperating in exchanging information and evidences (not restricted to internet evidences) that will be used by authorities in investigations and formal accusations. The cooperation occurs from authority to authority, according to a bureaucratic procedure specified in each treaty, one requesting (where it’s needed) and the other (where it’s located) providing the data. But, in a fast-changing world, where crime and information are moving even faster, the MLATs are not showing to be the fastest and efficient way.  In Brazil, for instance, the percentage of success in the cooperation with the United States through its MLAT roughly reaches 20% of the cases. Brazil, US and other countries do not seem to be satisfied with that.
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