Administrative Law SIG Conference in Budapest


On 6–7 June 2018, the Administrative Law SIG held a Conference in cooperation with Andrássy University Budapest, Eötvös Loránd University Budapest (ELTE) and (this time) the Constitutional Court of Hungary. The event was co-sponsored by the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation.

Fifteen speakers gave presentations in their respective fields of interest on different topics concerning administrative law, with a specific focus on the implication of the European Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe. On the first day of the Conference, Alexander Balthasar (Andrássy University), current SIG coordinator, welcomed all participants and highlighted the role of the SIG and the ELI in fostering European-wide cooperation amongst academics and practitioners. Moreover, Balthasar emphasised that the European Union is still a project of which success is not guaranteed and stressed, as one point of current concern, the growing discordance on the relationship between the rule of law and democracy. Similarly, Tamás Sulyok, President of the Hungarian Constitutional Court, stated that the Conference addressed important areas of law in which his court must constantly operate. In addition, Sulyok gave an overview of the Hungarian judicial system, comprising his court, administrative courts and ordinary courts. Finally, Pál Sonnevend, Vice-Dean of the ELTE Law Faculty, underlined that the Conference was indeed tackling essential questions and the threats that face Europe today. 

The first session (The Grand View) illustrated the current political background, pre-conditions for the further development of administrative law, and included three keynote speeches delivered by: (a) Rainer Münz (European Political Strategy Centre of the European Commission), who presented the five scenarios of the Commission’s White Paper and identified several proposals (institutional, economic, political, social) to meet the challenges of the current European situation; (b) Anton Pelinka (Central European University Budapest) who further elaborated on the future of European integration: ending widening and restarting deepening; and (c) Andrew Massey (University of Exeter) speaking about the effectiveness of European integration. The second session (Substantive View I) began with Anna Simonati (University of Trento), who used the pending reform of the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol as an example to highlight the role of local and regional entities in the EU. Joanna Osiejewicz (University of Zielona Góra) then focused on the simplicity and complexity of the EU energy policy narrative, namely the issue of ensuring security of gas supply and the promotion of renewable energy sources, whilst Georges Cavalier (University of Lyon) discussed the future of tax law in Europe. He set the scene of the current Europe, without real tax harmonisation, against the vision of the harmonised taxation of enterprises based on an illustrative example of a French R&D Tax Incentive project (CCCTB).

In the third session (Institutional View), Nora Chronowski (ELTE) began by focusing on the third scenario (those who want more do more) with Regionalised Enhanced Cooperation: An Additional Tool to Strengthen Subsidiarity in the EU, thus also addressing alternatives to the current range of central institutions. In contrast, Wolfgang Weiss (University of Administrative Sciences Speyer) predicted that EU executive rule-making and the Commission’s role in particular would increase in each of the five scenarios. This view was followed by an interesting observation from a practitioner, Victor Vaugoin (Pantharei Advisors Brussels), on the current state of interaction of all relevant stakeholders in this field of comitology. The last session of the Conference (Substantive View II) saw Attila Vincze (Andrassy University) scrutinise the Commission’s Reflection Paper on the Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (building on the White Paper, of May 2017). Mariia Muravska (Scientific Experts Office of the Ukrainian Parliament) spoke of the legal obligations to address climate change under EU legislation, underlining that the current EU policy is insufficient to target the set goals of the Paris Agreement. Finally, Mariella Fiorentino (Attorney-at-Law, Naples) criticised a widespread procedural practice in Italy (ex post reasoning), particularly in the context of tackling corruption from a rule of law perspective. Bruno Reynaud de Sousa (University of Porto) who was unfortunately unable to attend in person had, nevertheless, sent in his full paper (an assessment of European Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR Med)) which was distributed at the Conference. Despite the busy schedule, there was still room for animated discussion. All presenters have been offered the opportunity to publish the written versions of their papers in the ELTE-Journal. In the evening participants enjoyed a reception hosted by HE Elisabeth Ellison-Kramer, Austrian Ambassador to Hungary, at her residence. On 7 June, participants had the opportunity to visit the Constitutional Court of Hungary. President Sulyok elucidated the role and competencies of his court (in particular vis-à-vis the Kúria, ie, up to now, the Supreme Court in private, penal and administrative law) and he himself gave a guided tour of the building.