Call For Submissions – European Law Blogger Prize 2024

Call For Submissions – European Law Blogger Prize 2024

The Editorial Board of the European Law Blog is pleased to announce its first European Law Blogger Prize to celebrate the launch of its new website at beginning of September 2024. The €300 prize will be awarded to the early-career author of the best blog post submitted between 1 September and 1 December 2024. Any accepted submission will be published on a rolling basis.

We welcome engaging, well-written and well-researched blog contributions on current developments in EU law.

The Blog considers ‘early-career scholars’ as LLM and doctoral students, and postdoctoral researchers who defended their doctoral thesis within the last two years. Please indicate how you fulfil these requirements when submitting your post.

The winning entry will be selected by a committee made up by the associate editors of the European Law Blog.

Details on how to make a submission (incl. the editorial guidelines and template to use) can be found here: https://europeanlawblog.eu/contact/

The Prize is generously funded by the University of Amsterdam’s Fonds Europa Instituut.

Any questions about the Prize, please email us at info[at]europeanlawblog.eu.

Please also keep in mind that the Blog will be on its annual summer break between 20 July and 1 September 2024.

We look forward to reading your submissions!

The AI Act and a (sorely missing!) right to AI individualization; Why are we building Skynet?

Blogpost 37/2024

The industry has tricked us; Scientists and regulators have failed us. AI is developing not individually (as humans become individuals) but collectively. A huge collective hive to collect, store and process all of humanity’s information; a single entity (or a few, interoperability as an open issue today as their operation itself) to process all our questions, wishes and knowledge. The AI Act that has just been released ratifies, for the moment at least, this approach: EU’s ambitious attempt to regulate AI deals with it as if it was simply a phenomenon in need of better organisation, without granting any rights (or participation, thus a voice) to individuals. This is not only a missed opportunity but also a potentially risky approach; while we may not be building Skynet as such, we are accepting an industry-imposed shortcut that will ultimately hurt individual rights, if not individual development per se.

This mode of AI development has been a result of short-termism: an, immediate, need to get results quickly and to make a ‘fast buck’. Unlimited (and unregulated, save for the GDPR) access to whatever information is available for processing obviously speeds things up – and keeps costs down. Data-hungry AI models learn faster through access to as-large-as-possible repositories of information; then, improvements can be fed into next-generation AI models, that are even more data-hungry than their predecessors. The cycle can be virtuous or vicious, depending how you see it.

In 1984 iconic film The Terminator humans fought against Skynet, “an artificial neural network-based conscious group mind and artificial general superintelligence system”. Skynet was a single, collective intelligence (“group mind”) that quickly learned everything that humans knew and controlled all of the machines. Machines (including, Terminators) did not develop independently, but as units within a hive, answering to and controlled by a single, omnipresent and omnipotent entity – Skynet.

Isn’t this exactly what we are doing today? Are we not happy to let Siri, Alexa, ChatGPT (or whatever other AI entity the industry and scientists launch) process as a single entity, a single other-party with which each one of us interacts, all of our information through our daily queries and interactions with them? Are we not also happy to let them control, using that same information, all of our smart devices at home or at the workplace? Are we not, voluntarily, building Skynet?

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Vienna calling (Luxembourg) – About the admissibility of an Action for Annulment of the Nature Restoration Law

Blogpost 36/2024

This blogpost is dedicated to legal questions arising from the ongoing ‘coalition crisis’ in Austria, following Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler’s decision to vote in favour of the Regulation on Nature Restoration despite the opposing will of Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer and 7 out of 9 Regional Governments(Bundesländer). While Nehammer is of the opinion that this violates Austrian constitutional law (‘The constitution applies to climate activists as well.’) and has filed an abuse of office complaint, the question arises if the announced action for annulment before the CJEU – if not supported by all members of the government – would be admissible and who else could challenge the law in Luxembourg.

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The man in “entry 36”: legitimate expectations, legal certainty and economic sanctions.

Blogpost 35/2024

Disclosure: the author was a member of the Applicant’s counsel team

 

Introduction

This post concerns a question which ought to be of concern to all who practise in or study EU law:  does the EU administrative law acquis provide the Union’s courts with the tools they need to supervise the exercise of Union power across a range of competences which were simply not in contemplation at the time the acquis was developed?  There are two prompts for this post.

The first prompt is Joana Mendes’ recent (European Constitutional Law Review. 2022;18(4):706-736) and persuasive demonstration of how the current EU administrative law acquis grew up as a result of a “symbiosis of judicial and scholarly developments” in the pre-Maastricht era. The result was that, by the late 1980s there was a consensus that the subjugation of EU institutions to administrative law constraints (as then understood and theorised) had become “an essential aspect of the EC’s legitimacy”. Mendes argues (again persuasively) that this consensus and the principles which underlay it were the product of (amongst other things) the “institutional and legal reality” of what was then the European Community – i.e. “a functional polity whose interventionist institutional and decision-making structures were created for the establishment and functioning of a common market”. Mendes concludes by urging scholarly (and, perhaps, judicial) “self-reflection” as to whether this framework for analysis remains “fit for purpose” in an EU with competences far beyond what those pioneering scholars and jurists had conceived of.

The second prompt is the General Court’s recent decision in Case T-426/21 Nizar Assaad v Council ECLI:EU:T:2023:114. Here, the Court was asked to apply two core components of the administrative law acquis (the principles legitimate expectation and legal certainty)  in a context which would have been inconceivable to the Court at the time the underlying legal principles were developed – targeted economic sanctions introduced to further a foreign policy objective of the Union as a whole. The Assaad decision provides an opportunity for reflection of the type urged by Mendes and, it is argued, indicates that the Court is capable standing back and interrogating the principles which underlay the early decisions establishing the EU administrative law framework, and how they ought to apply in the much changed context of the Union activity in the Lisbon era.

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Predictive Policing in the AI Act: meaningful ban or paper tiger?

Blogpost 34/2024

After years of anticipation, the final text of the Artificial Intelligence Act (‘the Act’) was approved by the Council on May 21st of this year. The landmark regulation, first of its kind, positions the EU at the forefront of the global effort to establish a comprehensive legal framework on artificial intelligence. The Act aims to safeguard fundamental rights and promoting the development of safe and trustworthy AI by adopting a risk-based approach, mandating stricter scrutiny for higher-risk applications. At the highest level of risk, the Act contains a list of “prohibited uses” of artificial intelligence (Article 5) due to their potentially detrimental consequences for fundamental rights and Union values, including human dignity, freedom, and equality (see Recital 28). While the Act prohibits the use of specific instances of AI predictive policing, we should seriously consider whether the ban will have meaningful effects in practice, or may become a mere instrument of symbolic politics. Leaning towards the latter, this blog cautiously implies that this concern reflects broader questions about the Act’s commitment to developing “human-centric” AI and whether it effectively encompasses all individuals within its protective scope.

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Evading the European Media Freedom Act: Examining Public and Private Control of Media Organs in Hungary and Italy

Blogpost 33/2024

The state of media pluralism around the world stands at one of its most transformative points in modern history. The development of new technologies and the impact of social media platforms have radically reshaped society. Governments around the world have responded in kind. According to Freedom House, governments have shifted from open, laissez-faire internet exchange to ‘greater government intervention in the digital sphere.’ In 2023, global internet freedom had declined for the 13th consecutive year. Many point to the European Union as a bastion for ‘third way’ media co-regulation—balancing China’s authoritarian grip on expression and the United States’ unrestricted accommodations for free speech. Whereas one might view the European Union as a leader in media pluralism with appropriate safeguards for personal privacy, several Member State national governments stand in direct violation of such values. By April 2024, the Liberties Media Freedom Report declared that media freedom and pluralism stand ‘perilously close to the breaking point’ within the European Union. The European Union has produced legislation—specifically the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Digital Services Act (DSA), and the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA)—to try to address degrading media freedom within the EU community. This article examines how said legislation—specifically the EMFA—does not sufficiently secure media pluralism guarantees in two Member State case studies, Hungarian public media and Italian private media. With the European Union historically perceived as a ‘beacon of openness and liberal democracy,’ Member State derogations from media pluralism present hypocritical complicating factors for such international standards of liberal democratic governance.Continue reading

Regulating the Virtual World as a new State

Blogpost 32/2024

The European Commission has recently published an initiative that aims to regulate virtual worlds and Web 4.0 which is structured around the objectives of the Digital Decade policy programme. Virtual reality (VR) is a relatively old concept that was introduced primarily through gaming environments but given a new meaning through the introduction of the “Metaverse”. The Metaverse allows users to enter an immersive virtual reality that offers relaxation, education or an office environment. The wide variety of virtual realities that are part of the Metaverse brings expected use to new levels. It is estimated that, by 2026, 25% of the global population will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse for the purposes of either work, shopping, education or entertainment. Unlike current online stores or movie platforms, the Metaverse will provide a 3D immersive environment where users can interact with other users. Companies like Apple, Google, Roblox and Microsoft have made significant investments, with the total market size expected to hit 800 billion US dollars by 2030, potentially contributing 2.8% to global GDP in the tenth year after its creation.

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The Complex Landscape of Asylum Border Procedures in the new Asylum Procedures Regulation

Blogpost 31/2024

At the heart of the negotiations for the New Pact on Migration and Asylum lies one of its most contentious elements: the regulation of border procedures. During the Council negotiations, the Asylum Procedures Regulation (APR) underwent significant modifications, particularly in the provisions that regulate border procedures, to incorporate perspectives from all Member States. Despite expectations for improvements during trialogues with the Parliament, the final outcome in December 2023 witnessed a step back from many of the anticipated safeguards. Border procedures are perceived in the agreed text as an important ‘migration management tool’ and as a responsibility mechanism, mandating the examination of asylum applications at the borders, while asylum seekers will be subject to the ‘non-entry’ fiction. This blogpost aims to examine the complex landscape of border procedures based on the final text of the APR.

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