Saturday, 18 July 2009

Creating the European Public Sphere: Some remarks on the European Court of Justice Blog by Allard Knook

Allard Knook is writing a blog in which he summarises European Court of Justice rulings and on which I would like to briefly comment.

I intended to write these comments on his blog, but there the function is deactivated and a contact address is not to be found, either. So I'll comment here.

First, as a representative example, take a look at the latest post on the Court judgement Case C‑558/07, S.P.C.M. and others.

The first thing you will notice is that there is no link to the original judgement, so if you want to read the full text on your own, you have to go to the Court's website and research on your own. [Overlooked the link at the end of the posts; JF]

The second thing is that the introductory clause summarising the judgement is really short while the post is rather long and written in a very juridical style.

So while going through my RSS feeds, I usually go through Allard's posts just reading the first sentence, which always feels very unsatisfactory because I think it would be worth following the ECJ's decisions more closely.

But Allard is apparently writing for a distinct legally interested audience, focussing on "broadcasting" and passive consume of his texts with the comment function deactivated.

This is a pity, because he is doing an important work which could have a much broader effect outside the judicial world.

For comparison, look at this article on the European Court of Human Rights blog and the final paragraphs of the post:
" [...] Although again the Court does not formulate a general right to access to documents, what it does clarify is that once access on the national level is ordered (in this case by a court), such access should be effective and be given within a reasonable time. In this case, the authories had been so obstructive, that the European Court did not shy away from calling their behavior arbitrary.

A case for the history books - and for Court watchers too, of course!
This puts into understandable words how important/ relevant/ interesting this judgement is in a wider context, and the whole article is rather written with the intention to explain the ruling than to produce a judicial summary.

In fact, the ECJblog would not have to change much. There is no need to change in style if this is what the main audience needs and wants.

But with a slightly longer "citizens' summary" (2-3 sentences) at the beginning, shortly explaining the importance and range of a judgement for the Union as a whole or for a certain policy area (e.g. in comparison to previous judgements), Allard's blog could have enormous effects into the wider European public.

I hope Allard will read these comments - my interest is in raising public awareness for European policy-making and law-shaping, and we should combine sources and resources to come closer to this goal!


Ulysse said...

Hello Julien,
I am out of subject, but it's a point you discussed 12 days ago.
Jean Quatremer from Liberation says ( ) that Wolfgang Schäuble is the preferred candidate of the European Greens to replace JM Barroso. Don't you find find rather strange? Any clue?

Julien Frisch said...

Hi Ulysse,

in fact I am reading this proposition by Daniel Cohn-Bendit for the first time.

I don't think it is an official proposition of the Greens, it is just Dany trying to show that there are high-profile EPP politicians who could replace Barroso.

He (Dany) seems to be trying to strengthen his argument that he really wants to get rid of Barroso by proposing these people, probably knowing that in reality they are not really candidates for this post.

So if Dany made these remarks, I'd regard them as rather tactical and less of true political substance.

Ulysse said...

It's true it's quite tactical.
They should try to push for a moderate conservative in the first place (maybe Jean-Claude Juncker?)

This designation process may last a while, and this is not a good point for Europe.