How could the rule of law in the European Union (EU) be protected preventively? This free-access-article presents elements of a new approach that aims at making the rule of law more resilient. Further articles examine the European commission’s REPower-EU-plan and the German role during the Euro crisis. The forum category is about a German-Nordic-Baltic perspective on the EU's responsibility in the world and about EU trade policy measures against economic pressure. The conference reports of the Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration focus on the right of environmental associations to take legal action on the basis of the Aarhus Convention and on new challenges in EU investment policy.
Rule of law under pressure: resilience instead of reaction
York Albrecht, David Nonhoff, Maria Skóra, Robyn Titulski
The rule of law and democracy in the European Union (EU) are under great pressure. Indices measuring the rule of law show that attacks on it are on the rise. In the meantime, the EU has developed numerous instruments to defend the rule of law, but so far these have only been able to sanction, but not to prevent the dismantling of the rule of law. What both approaches have in common: they are more reactive than preventive. They can detect deterioration and sanction violations, but not anticipate them. In order to mitigate this shortcoming, we propose a new approach. It adds a preventive dimension to the debate on the rule of law in the EU: resilience. To this end, we identify factors that make the rule of law resilient to attacks and argue that this depends above all on its political, social and economic environment.
Assessing the European Union’s REPowerEU plan – energy transition meets geopolitics
The European Union (EU) has been facing an energy crisis since the autumn of 2021, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, geopolitical tensions, and the climate crisis. The war in Ukraine has changed European perceptions of energy trade with Moscow. In May 2022, the EU announced the REPowerEU plan, which aims at reducing imports of Russian energy by diversifying trade partners, increasing energy efficiency, and accelerating the energy transition. This article analyses the main developments in EU climate and energy policy since 2021, with a focus on the REPowerEU plan. The main elements of the plan are investigated, including a preliminary assessment. The article argues that the war in Ukraine has led to an acceleration of policies to implement the energy transition in the EU. However, numerous challenges and contradictions exist, such as the EU’s quest of new and more polluting fossil fuel supplies in the short-run, which could lead to new forms of carbon lock-in.
German hegemony in the Eurozone? “Bestimmender Einfluss” of German ordoliberal ideology
Since the outbreak of the Euro crisis, there has been a renewed interest by scholars in Germany’s role and power within the European Union (EU). In this broader debate the concept of a German hegemony came to the fore. A full analysis on whether Germany is the EU hegemon is beyond the grasp of a single article. Instead, this text focuses on one of the dimensions of hegemony – ideational power – within a key policy area of the EU where, arguably, German power has been felt more strongly: the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The article argues that German ideational power and its embeddedness within the EMU had a “bestimmender Einfluss” on the outcomes of the Euro crisis, meaning there is a case to be made for a German hegemonic role in the EMU.
Europe’s global responsibility – a German-Nordic-Baltic Perspective
Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022 has led to a reorganisation of the European security architecture, which is particularly evident in the North and Baltic Sea regions. Europe reacted to the aggression in a united manner and faced up to its geopolitical and humanitarian responsibilities. The European Union (EU) and its member states made a remarkable turnaround in security policy and abandoned hitherto irrevocable principles regarding arms exports and neutrality. Yet the question of how best to manage the direct and indirect costs of the war divides EU member states. Moreover, the persistent challenges posed by matters as diverse as industrial, migration and asylum policy, foreign policy towards China and the climate crisis, have not gone away. The EU must leverage its power so that these can be mastered jointly and proactively.
“Trade Enforcement Regulation”, “Anti-Coercion Instrument” and “Single Market Emergency Instrument”: reactions of the European Union to trade policy challenges
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of examples of foreign countries seeking to influence the decisions of the European Union (EU) or its member states in the area of trade and investment policy. Unfortunately, the existing EU legislative framework does not provide for a single or comprehensive legal instrument to deter and counteract coercive actions by third countries. With this in mind, the European Commission recently adopted three proposals to impose counter-measures: The “Trade Enforcement Regulation” (TER), the “Anti-Coercion Instrument” (ACI) and the “Single Market Emergency Instrument” (SMEI). This article summarizes key points, development, contribution, and criticism of the three instruments through which the EU can defend itself against economic coercion by third countries, establish a resilient internal market and prove her strategic autonomy.