The Precarious Balance between Federalism and the Rule of Law: Some Perspectives of the Teachings of the Supreme Court of Canada

This paper assesses the precarious balance between the absence of political and legal oneness in federations and the respect of the rule of law. More precisely, it analyses how this balance is stricken by the Canadian Supreme Court. When it delivered the Reference Re Secession of Quebec in 1998, this Court explained how to make two constitutional principles complementary rather than antagonistic. This Reference has since guided the judicial comprehension of the rule of law in the Canadian federation. This paper first assesses the fundaments and the relevance of these judicial teachings. It then asserts that a differentiated and pragmatic appreciation of the rule of law, if some intrinsic components are found and guaranteed, is necessary in federations to avoid its plain and simple contestation. However, this paper warns the Supreme Court against what may be seen as a subtle unitisation of the rule of law as it would hamper its legitimacy in a heterogeneous federation such as Canada.

Understanding the outcome of the 2015 Polish General Election: Why Poland Challenges our Contemporary Perceptions of the Causes of Democratic Backsliding

Democratic regression is identified as an accelerating trend around the world. Traditionally, democratic backsliding has been associated with poor economic performances and the decline of mainstream political parties. This is said to lead the public to elect populist candidates that vow to fix the states' problems, but who eventually lead the country down an undemocratic path. This submission addresses preconceptions related to the causes of democratic decay using the case study of Poland which challenges these prevailing theories. Poland was the only EU country that boasted economic growth in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The party that successfully lead Poland through the financial crisis, lost narrowly the 2015 election. Therefore, if economic turmoil and a fragmented party system are not to blame for Poland’s democratic backsliding, then what is? This submission assesses possible answers such as the power of a persuasive leader and the failures of the electoral system.

Interpretative Provisions – A Helping Hand of the Legislator or a Muzzle for the Judiciary?

The application of law is based not only on the legal text but also on some guidelines concerning its interpretation. This can lead to considerably different understanding of provisions of law which reduces legal certainty and social trust in judiciary. Legal provisions concerning statutory interpretation may increase the uniformity of judicial practice and thus citizen's trust in the state. On the other hand they can become a tool of pressure and manipulation and thus increase a distrust and dissent. This paper consists in the analysis of potential dangers related to the creation of interpretative regulations by the legislator. I will refer to the existing controversial interpretative provisions I will look for criteria for the legality of such regulations. The goal is to indicate the boundaries as to the content of statutory interpretative directives so that they do not violate the separation of powers and judicial independence.

Mutual Trust in the EU Legal Order

This paper explores the concept of mutual trust in the EU legal system. It considers the philosophical roots and the judicial understanding of this concept. Mutual trust is crucial to the coherence of the EU legal order since it allows the mutual recognition of judgments and thus strengthens integration.
European integration has succeeded since it has fostered trust among the Member States. However, the recent accession of states with diverging perspectives on integration has hampered mutual trust and triggered a ‘rule of law crisis’. This enlargement of the EU investigates if mutual trust can arise genuinely in broad and heterogeneous whole.
This paper first traces the evolution of the meaning of mutual trust in the EU legal order. Then, it assesses theories of trust and inquires if mutual trust can exist in the EU in its current size. Finally, it assesses how institutional trust can be restored through the fostering of mutual trust in order to solve the current ‘rule of law crisis’.