MEPs released a statement on the escalating situation in Turkey, stating their concern at the “disproportionate and excessive use of force by Turkish police to break up peaceful and legitimate protests”. A resolution was passed warning against the use of harsh measures against peaceful protesters, and said prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan must take a unifying and conciliatory position. However Erdoğan has said that he does not recognise the EP’s decision as binding over Turkey.
The European Parliament also endorsed rules that introduce common procedures and deadlines for handling asylum applications and basic rights for asylum seekers arriving in the EU, to iron out differences between national asylum procedures. Required minimum reception conditions include a defined shortlist of grounds for detaining asylum seekers, a guarantee of decent detention conditions, and an early assessment of asylum seekers’ medical needs. The rules also allow for Europol to access a database of asylum seekers’ fingerprints. Continue reading
On Thursday 23 May 2013 Matrix hosted the first of its “40 Years On – The UK in the EU” seminar series examining the impact of EU law on various areas of legal practice. The seminar considered the role of EU law in crime and due process matters. The speakers were Aaron Watkins, Andrew Bodnar, Joanna Buckley, Jodie Blackstock (Director of Criminal and EU Justice Policy at JUSTICE), and Mark Summers, chaired by Tim Owen QC.
You will find the excellent seminar handout here: 40 Years On – Seminar 1 – Hand Out
Dr Iyiola Solanke
Readers of EUtopia Law may recall my comments in May on the government plans to introduce a duty upon landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. I stressed that the proposed checks were likely to breach UK obligations under EU law. Since then, the plans have been modified in order to reduce the administrative burden and limit the reach of the envisaged rules. The intention now is to target the landlord duty only on those renting out properties in certain boroughs that are popular with migrants, such as Ealing and Hounslow in West London. I would contend that this does not rid the policy of problems, but changes them: such a focus is likely to breach the EU Race Directive 2000/43, as well as the public sector equality duty (PSED) in Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
The EU Race Directive sets out a framework for combating discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnicity. The scope, set out in Article 3 covers both public and private sectors and includes housing. Although the Directive explicitly excludes nationality, the landlord duty as currently envisaged is likely to disproportionately affect British black and minority ethnic communities. As a consequence of the demographics of housing, it is likely to prove difficult to target areas with high numbers of migrant populations without also targeting settled communities of colour. Ealing and Hounslow are examples of this: Lambeth and Stratford in South and East London are others. Beyond the Race Directive, the government should also consider the PSED, under which all public authorities must have ‘due regard to the need to’ not only eliminate conduct prohibited by Act, but also advance equality of opportunity and, perhaps most relevant to the landlord duty, foster good relations. The modifications may therefore be unlawful under national as well as EU law. Continue reading
There has been debate about the legality of minimum per-unit (MPU) alcohol pricing in the UK, since the SNP-led Scottish Government first suggested adopting such a measure back in 2009. I contributed to the debate on several previous occasions, but now there is a little more substance to be discussed after the Outer House of the Court of Session, on 3 May 2013, handed down its judgment in The Scotch Whisky Association and Ors, Re Judicial Review of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing)(Scotland) Act 2012  CSOH 70. The judgment answers some of the questions posed, but, sadly, it leaves yet more unanswered. I doubt this will be the last that we see of minimum alcohol pricing before the courts.
The SWA petitioned the court challenging the legality of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing)(Scotland) Act 2012 and a proposed Order under that Act which would have set the minimum price at 50p per unit. Under that Order the minimum price for a product would be set using the formula: MPU x strength x volume in litres x 100. For one of my favourite red wines this would mean a minimum price of £5.62 per bottle (£0.50 x 15% x 0.75 x 100). For a can of Stella Artois the minimum price would be £1.14 (£0.50 x 5.2% x 0.44 x 100). Continue reading
Alberto Alemanno considers a tale of Euroscepticism, political opportunism and a European Commission ‘own goal’
In the aftermath of the last EU summit, one of the many provisions proposed by the European Commission within the framework of its action plan for the olive-oil sector unexpectedly gained global attention.
The provision, which had already won member states’ backing, would have required that restaurants serve olive oil in sealed, clearly labelled and non-reusable containers, instead of relying on refillable containers. The UK’s prime minister, echoed by his Dutch counterpart, publicly attacked the Commission’s adopted proposal by dismissing it as “exactly the sort of area that the European Union needs to get right out of”. While Dacian Cioloş, the European commissioner for agriculture, initially defended the proposal as a way to promote quality olive oil and to protect consumers from fraud, he rapidly withdrew the measure, declaring that the ban was “not formulated in such a way as to assemble widespread support”. Continue reading
Dr Iyiola Solanke
May has not been a good month for policing in the EU. The service that they provide has been under the spotlight in various member states. The policing of racist violence is on trial in Germany, where the process against neo-Nazi Beate Zschäpe began this month. The alleged co-founder of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist group is accused with four other people of involvement in 10 murders of Turkish-Germans between 2000 and 2006, as well as in a bomb attack on a Turkish-German district of Cologne. The NSU had apparently believed that the German nation was under threat and had decided to save it by randomly executing Germans of Turkish descent. Each victim was shot: in the head, through the face, in the neck. The first victim was Enver Simsek, a flower seller from Nuremburg – he was found in the back of his delivery van with eight bullets in his body. He had been assassinated – shot at close range and his body fired into when he was already immobile. The last victim was Halit Yozgat, murdered whilst at work in his Internet cafe in Kassel. On trial is not only Zschäpe but the German police: they refused to acknowledge a racist motive behind the murders and treated them instead as gang killings, suspecting the families instead of supporting them. The catalogue of errors by law enforcement officials ensuing from that basic blindness has led to comparisons with the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in Britain 20 years ago and similar accusations of institutional racism.
The continuing problem of racist and violent policing is highlighted by riots in Sweden. Six nights of violence in May exposed the hidden tensions between the police and minority ethnic communities: schools have been set ablaze, businesses smashed up and stones thrown at police. The battles have left the international image of peaceful Swedish integration that we all believed in tatters – as is often the case it was only the voiceless victims who knew the reality. The violence has apparently been a long time coming: police have for years harassed black and ethnic minority citizens, and even those white Swedes associated with them. As in Germany, blinkered police interpretation played a leading role: arriving home with his Finnish wife after being chased by a gang of youths, a 69-year-old Swede of Portuguese origin emerged from his house brandishing a knife to confront the marauders; police arriving on the scene assumed they were dealing with a situation of domestic violence, broke into his home and shot him dead, in front of his wife. Who needs Elizabethan drama? The 21st century is littered with its own tragi-farcical material. The police then apparently inflamed the situation by calling the rioters ‘monkeys’ and ‘negroes.’ Continue reading
We thought we would share the excellent news that our friend and fellow Matrix member Takis Tridimas has been appointed Chair of European Law at King’s College London. He will take up his position in January 2014. Many congratulations, Takis!
In other news, we have been asked to give a plug for the new Working Paper series of the Swedish Competition Authority, which we are very happy to do: it looks like a great initiative.
Finally, do think about attending the joint UKAEL/ISEL conference taking place on Friday 21 June, organised by our good friends Philippa Watson and Donogh Hardiman: it promises to be an interesting and topical event.
Dr Dorota Leczykiewicz
Constitutional conflict is a leitmotif of the relationship between EU law and national law. Courts of EU Member States are under a dual obligation of loyalty. On the one hand, they need to apply and respect their own laws, but on the other, they also need to ensure effectiveness of norms of the EU legal order. In the event of conflict, the principle of supremacy of Union law tells them to disapply conflicting national rules. Member States’ courts to a large extent accept that obligation, although they usually exclude from its ambit conflicts between EU law and state constitutions. For this reason, the best tactic for the Court of Justice of the EU is to avoid situations where EU law would require from national courts to act in violation of the state constitution. The Court of Justice has developed various techniques to deal with such instances of potential constitutional conflict. The controversial issue may be brought outside the scope of EU law (Grogan), EU law may be recognised to protect the same constitutional right and to the same far-reaching extent (Omega Spielhallen), or the principle of respect for national identity, as laid down by Article 4(2) of the Treaty on the European Union, may be used to allow national norms to remain applicable even when they undermine effectiveness of an EU norm (as I discuss here). In a recent judgment in the Melloni case(Case C-399/11, Judgment of 26 February 2013) the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the EU decided not to use any of these techniques. Instead an EU Framework Decision was held to prevail over the Spanish Constitution. Continue reading
Dr Jeremias Prassl
Frank S Benyon (ed), Services and the EU Citizen (Hart Publishing: Oxford, 2013) £55
The most recent volume in Hart Publishing’s Modern Studies in European Law series is a collection of essays edited by Frank S Benyon. Drawing on a series of workshops held at the European University Institute in 2010, its chapters cover a broad range of services regulated under EU law – from Electronic Communications and Broadcasting to Health Care and Transport. The overall goal of the project is an interesting one: to consider the potential interaction of two key topics in EU law – the notion of Union citizenship (Art 20 TFEU), and consumer protection (notably in Art 114(3) TFEU). As the editor puts it in his introduction, might ‘consumer advantages [...] not be seen as forming a constituent part of the rights of the EU citizen’?
In keeping with the theme of my recent posts here at EUtopiaLaw, this review focuses on the two substantive chapters dedicated to transportation and travel law, as well as the final chapter, in which the editor draws together the findings of the workshop series. This is a particularly difficult area in which to explore the theme of citizenship: travel is, by definition, not limited to EU citizens: the European Union sees just over a third of worldwide air passenger traffic pass through its airports each year. In drawing a similar conclusion in the final chapter, Frank S Benyon nonetheless makes the crucial point that consumer protection in the field of services is amongst the most directly relevant EU achievements for individual citizens. Continue reading