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Montaigne Centre Blog

Should we increase greenspace to improve living environments in Dutch prisons?

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There is growing consensus among academics and policy makers that the living environments in Dutch prisons need to be improved. This belief is fuelled by the idea that better living environments will enhance the well-being of both prisoners and prison staff. Also, it will strengthen the effectiveness of the criminal sentencing system, as prisoners who…

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The Big Bang in EU Law, Promises and Empirical Reality

Who knows the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Van Gend & Loos judgment? Silly question, of course. The judgment has become famous for introducing the direct effect of EU law, allowing individuals to rely directly on EU law provisions against Member States and, sometimes, even against other individuals. But who can tell what the direct…

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Judiciaries Must Build Support in Societies

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The concerted attacks on judicial independence in a range of European countries, especially in Poland and Hungary, draw widespread condemnation internationally but also feelings of frustration: Why does the European Commission not act decisively to block this ‘backsliding’? High expectations turned into disillusionment (Steinbeis 2020). This is of course a vital issue, but the sole…

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Following the Constitution in Times of Corona: A Path to Redeeming Constitutional Idolatry in The Netherlands?

In his book ‘Constitutional Idolatry and Democracy’, Brian Christopher Jones describes constitutional idolatry as ‘drastically or persistently over-selling the importance and effects of written constitutions’.  For a scholar trained in Dutch constitutional law this is a rather foreign concept. Although the Dutch Constitution (hereafter: Constitution) is one of the oldest in the world, the Netherlands is…

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Algorithmic discrimination in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for EU equality law

Early 2020, the European Commission recognized in the preamble of its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence that AI ‘entails a number of potential risks’ including ‘gender-based or other kinds of discrimination’. It therefore deemed ‘important to assess whether [EU law] can be enforced adequately to address the risks that AI systems create, or whether adjustments…

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Death by ransomware

On 10 September 2020, ransomware infected 30 servers at University Hospital Düsseldorf, crashing systems and forcing the hospital to turn away emergency patients. As a result, German authorities stated, a woman in a life-threatening condition was sent to a hospital 20 miles away in Wuppertal and died from treatment delays. On 28 September, another alarming news article stated that ‘a…

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National security and the processing of personal data

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On 10 October 2018, ‘Convention 108’ of the Council of Europe regarding the ‘automatic processing of personal data’ (1985) was updated. Convention 108+ now explicitly incorporates the processing of personal data in a national security context. The Netherlands signed Convention 108+ on 10 October 2018 and is now in the ratification process. Surprisingly, Convention 108+ did not gain much…

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Three lessons on the relationship between EU and national law in the context of the duty of consistent interpretation

Is it possible to avoid a conflict between EU and national law that would result in a national court disapplying the conflicting national provision? Under certain circumstances, the duty of consistent interpretation can offer a solution. For example: two individuals conclude a sales contract, which one subsequently claims is void under EU law whereas the…

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Biopolitics and the Coronavirus: in Defence of Giorgio Agamben

In some recent blog posts, Italian star philosopher Giorgio Agamben frames the governmental response to the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy and elsewhere as ‘frenetic, irrational and entirely unfounded’. According to Agamben, Covid-19 is not too different from the normal flus that affect us every year. The governmental reaction to the outbreak would be…

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