IL in Pandemic TimesSymposium

Testing Europe: COVID-19 and the rule of law

“Sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” wrote the notorious constitutional law scholar Carl Schmitt in 1922 in his work Political Theology, “exception” understood as measures undertaken in a state of emergency. The democratic constitutions of Europe are grounded on the notion of popular sovereignty; Article 20 of the German Basic Law, for example, states that “[a]ll state authority is derived from the people”. The Treaty on European Union …

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IL in Pandemic TimesSymposium

A burden to share

The need to acknowledge the complexity of member state differences in the Eurozone

The spread of the Coronavirus disease prompts the question whether EU Member states should show solidarity and, if so, to what extent. It is clear that Italy is one of the European countries to have been severely struck by the consequences of the spread of the Coronavirus disease 2019. The lock-down and restrictions for public life have a dire effect on the Italian economy. As a consequence, Italy has called …

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Current Developments

Bouncers beyond Borders

On the (il)legality of EU funding for the Libyan coast guard

Over the past two years, the EU has spent almost 100 million Euro to improve the Libyan coast guard’s ability to implement a “Search and Rescue Zone” in the Mediterranean. This financial cooperation is now the object of a legal complaint, filed by a coalition of NGOs led by the Global Legal Action Network. The complaint alleges that financial support for the Libyan coast guard violates European and international law. …

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Current Developments

The Brexit agreement: an unlikely role model for the WTO?

How the WTO enforcement mechanism could be improved with insights from the UK withdrawal agreement

On the one hand, the WTO. This institution that was considered the ‘jewel in the crown’, has now been deprived of an Appellate body, a problem which is only the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, Brexit. Triggered by the referendum in 2016, postponed multiple times, a problem which seems to be here to stay, notably considering the overwhelming win of the conservative party on 13th December. Two …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

A rule to catch them all

How European policies on combating abuse of rights in tax law aim at countering cynicism by non-state actors

One of the legal regimes where cynicism is most prevalent in the eye of the public is tax law. After the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ and ‘Paradise Papers’ public debate on fair taxation of companies was rekindled at the World Economic Forum 2019, where Rutger Bregman stressed that it is cynical when people talk about philanthropic engagement, equality and transparency, yet ‘almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance’. …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

The Edge of Enlightenment

The EU’s struggle with post-fascist cynicism

Recently, Harvard professor Steven Pinker’s book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”, which explores the effect of the Enlightenment on contemporary societies worldwide and also anti-Enlightenment movements in the West, became an international bestseller. Applying his findings about the age-old symbiotic relationship between certain elements of “Western civilization” and (post-) Fascism to certain developments both at the EU level and in individual member states, we can …

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Current Developments

Handschlag oder Kniefall?

Ein Kommentar zum Revised Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Am 16.07.2019 hat die UN-Arbeitsgruppe „Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights“ (OEIWG) einen überarbeiteten Entwurf [revised draft (RD)] für einen Vertrag zum Thema Unternehmen und Menschenrechte veröffentlicht. Es handelt sich hierbei um eine zweite, überarbeitete Version, nachdem der sog. zero draft (ZD) exakt ein Jahr zuvor veröffentlicht wurde. Der neue Entwurf enthält einige weitgehende Zugeständnisse an Industriestaaten und Unternehmen, die …

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GDPR as Global Standard SetterSymposium

The charm of jurisdictions: a modern version of Solomon’s judgment?

From a perspective of international law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) pioneers particularly in terms of its (extraterritorial) application. Whereas in international law, which is based on the Westphalian notion of exclusive state sovereignty, this sovereignty is usually restricted to the state’s own territory and allows for an extraterritorial application of human rights only in exceptional circumstances, the GDPR prominently standardises the domestic-market principle in Article 3(2) GDPR. The …

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GDPR as Global Standard SetterSymposium

The GDPR and algorithmic decision-making

Safeguarding individual rights, but forgetting society

In algorithmic decision-making systems (ADM systems) machines evaluate and assess human beings and, on this basis, make a decision or provide a forecast or a recommendation for action. Thus, it is not only the data processing as such, but above all the automated decision resulting from the data processing that contains risks for the user. The current international legal framework encompasses such risks by guaranteeing privacy, data protection, personality rights …

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GDPR as Global Standard SetterSymposium

The internet on its way back to a future of human dignity?

One year EU General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come a long way since it was first tabled as proposal by the European Commission on 25 January 2012. Probably, it will be remembered as the biggest achievement of the outgoing Juncker Commission. Despite the fact that Europe plays a second-tier role when it comes to the development and production of data-driven technology and services, research shows that of 132 countries which have …

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