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Session Overview
Panel 712: UACES Research Network Panel: The Legacy of Austerity on the Enforcement of EU Law and Policy
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
4:45pm - 6:15pm

Session Chair: Sara Drake, Cardiff University
Location: Room 12.06

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UACES Research Network Panel: The Legacy of Austerity on the Enforcement of EU Law and Policy

Chair(s): Sara Drake (Cardiff University, United Kingdom)

Following the financial crisis of 2008, EU Member States adopted austerity measures in various guises, either at the behest of the EU/IMF (e.g. Greece, Portugal, Ireland), or at the instigation of their own national government (e.g. UK). The consequent budget cuts led to a reduction in the resources available to public authorities responsible for the enforcement of EU law and policy including national courts. Cuts to legal aid, the closure of courts, increases in court fees, and reduction in judges’ pay have all threatened to undermine access to justice and decrease the protection conferred by EU law and policy on citizens and businesses. The compatibility of these austerity measures with European fundamental rights has been challenged with mixed success before national courts as well as the EU’s Court of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights. Austerity measures have also had a broader impact on compliance with, and enforcement of EU law and policy beyond the courts. As the EU and its Member States emerge from the ‘age of austerity’, and face new challenges (e.g. rule of law crisis, anti-EU populism, migration, Brexit, terrorism), what is the legacy of austerity on the effective enforcement of EU law and policy?


Presentations of the Symposium


The Principle of Effectiveness during the EU Financial Crisis: Effective Judicial Protection of Bank Depositors and the Alternative of Arbitration

Despina Christofi
UCLan, Cyprus

The paper approaches effective judicial protection in the context of economic and monetary union, by focusing on the aspect of whether courts within the EU effectively protect bank depositors and whether arbitration would offer additional protection. For this purpose, the approach of courts and arbitrators towards depositors are considered, based on effectiveness of protection, not only in its procedural sense, but also in the substantial one, as the appropriate tool of assessment. Thus, analysis is made of some of the most prominent litigation arising out of the measures adopted in Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Cyprus, and selective case law of the ECtHR dealing either with the financial crisis or the protection of depositors and shareholders of failing banks. All the cases selected are studied from the perspective of the protection of individuals, either as depositors, shareholders or investors in banks. The position of the CJEU, national courts and the ECtHR are critically analysed from the scope of effectiveness of protection offered to applicants when confronting with the challenging task of ruling on austerity measures. A critical analysis of the position of international arbitration from the scope of effectiveness of protection offered to applicants, follows. The findings of this examination lead to the final question regarding the role, if any, of arbitration within the EU legal order and the relationship between arbitration and litigation, in particular within the context of the global financial crisis and the extent to which the lines between them need to be redefined.


Living up to High Expectations? Effective Enforcement of the European Pillar of Social Rights

Susana Muñoz
University of Luxembourg

The European socio-economic model has been facing huge challenges since the onset of the multidimensional crisis that has reverberated across the world over the past decade. Levels of social protection and the enjoyment of basic social rights have gradually been declining throughout the crisis and, despite recovery, dispersion in the economic and social performance of EU Member States has grown. The compatibility of austerity measures with fundamental (social) rights has been challenged before the relevant bodies at national and European level within the Council of Europe and the EU, with mixed results.

The development of the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), as first announced in Juncker’s State of the Union address in September 2015, intended to overcome and look beyond the crisis while moving towards a deeper and fairer EMU. The Pillar exists in two legal forms with identical content: a Commission recommendation of 26 April 2017 and an inter-institutional proclamation of 17 November 2017. The Pillar raised high expectations, and the key to its success is its effective implementation. The aim of the Pillar is to serve as a ‘guide’ towards efficient employment and social outcomes, and ensuring better enactment and implementation of social rights. Questions then arise as to whether the Pillar actually contributes to the effectiveness of social rights and improves their protection within the EU legal system. This paper aims to provide a critical assessment of the EPSR in the light of its impact on the effective enforcement of social rights within the EU and in connection with the multilevel system for the protection of fundamental rights in Europe.


The Evolution of Budgetary Discipline in the Economic and Monetary Union in Light of Current Developments

Gerard Conway
Brunel University

The full mechanisms of budgetary discipline in the EU are quite recent developments, the legal basis having been strengthened considerably by the Lisbon Treaty and subsequent secondary legislation. Mechanisms for achieving compliance have always been one of the cleavages between what is now EU law and public international law, and the slow evolution of EU powers under the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) have culminated in potentially highly intrusive, though as yet mostly unused, mechanisms of EU involvement in national budgetary decisions. These include important supervision powers for the European Commission in national budgetary decisions, as well as a considerable jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This papers examines the growth of EU competence in supervising Member States' budgets, as the most recent and perhaps most dramatic extension of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) beyond the Euro currency itself. It examines the initially slow development of the EU's role, followed by the cataclysmic effect of the global financial crisis. In particular, it focuses on the roles of the European Commission and ECJ. It takes the recent controversy regarding Italy's proposed budget deficit as a case study of the current powers of the EU and compares this episode to earlier examples of Member State breaches of the SGP. The paper analyses the interaction of the Member States and EU institutions in light of both the evolving legal framework and of theories of EU integration and of compliance with EU law

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