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President´s Message

Alexander Arabadjiev - President of FIDE 2021 to 2023

The Bulgarian Association for European Law (BAEL) is currently presiding FIDE and in this capacity it will host the XXX FIDE congress in Sofia from 24 to 27 May 2023, for the first time in the history of FIDE. 

While we still stand together in solidarity with our Dutch friends instead of mere sympathy I extend – on behalf of the BAEL – our sincere congratulations and profound gratitude for their professional and moral courage to be able to organize the congress in such unprecedented circumstances and at such a high level. The congress was a real success and I can only hope that we will be able to replicate that success in the the XXXth FIDE Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, which will take place  from the 23rd to the 27th May 2023. And – also – with the aim to ensure continuity in terms of the conceptual framework whithin which developments in  EU law are to be addressed.

The European Union has been dealing with one crises after the other over the last decade or so (the sovereign debt crisis, Brexit, the pandemic, the soaring energy prices, etc.). Overwhelmed by the urgency and the gravity of these crises, we haven’t really had the time to stop and reflect on the future of the European legal order and the way we would like it to evolve for the future generations.

The XXXth FIDE Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria has the ambition to focus on the strategic development and the future of the Union, generating new propositions and ideas.

It will be a visionary congress.

At the heart of it lies our objective to focus on the constitutional identity of the European Union, its economic model and its social dimension.

While, like all FIDE Congresses, the Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, will unfold around three main topics, they are all united in one common thread: Defining the constitutional, economic and social physiognomy of the European Union.    

The importance of the first topic Mutual Trust, Mutual Recognition and the Rule of Law – can hardly be overstated.

Mutual trust, mutual recognition and the rule of law have evolved to become cornerstones of the European legal order. This topic aims to shift the debate from focusing on events in certain Member States to wider conceptual and constitutional questions. It thus has the overarching aim to examine whether these principles are capable of forming the very backbone of the constitutional identity of the European Union, and therefore become the foundation of the full spectrum of EU law.

On a more specific basis, new developments will also be discussed such as the economic consequences of the deficiencies of the rule of law ( Regime of Conditionality for the Protection of Union Budget in the cases of  breaches of the principles of the rule of law in the member States ).

More importantly, the debate has so far been mostly structured on a “top down” approach, that is to say the mechanisms that EU institutions have at their disposal in order to examine compliance with the principles of mutual trust, mutual recognition and the rule of law on the national level. The topic will expand the debate by examining its “horizontal” dimension, ie the way national courts examine the deficiencies of the rule of law in their own Member State, as well in other Member States in the context of applying the various instruments of judicial cooperation. It will also discuss the often under-estimated “bottom-up” dimension of the debate, that is to say how breaches of these principles on the national level can have consequences on the Union itself, by eroding its own constitutional identity.  

The second topic - ‘ The new geopolitical dimension of the EU competition and trade policies’ is fast becoming the new “hot” topic in EU economic law.

It is the focal point of several different branches of law: competition law, trade law and investment law through the prism of industrial policy with the objective to achieve the strategic economic autonomy of the Union.

At a time when EU competition and trade policy is being redefined with the objective to support a green and digital recovery and to promote investment in key sectors, some key notions may need to be revisited in order to take into account the new realities. Issues such as “European champions” or the lack thereof, killer acquisitions, security concerns linked to foreign direct investment, foreign subsidies and the securing of strategic value chains will inevitably be discussed. For example, it may be necessary to consider what forms of strategic cooperation in sustainability initiatives or in securing the autonomy of strategic value chains are possible without infringing Article 101 (1) TFEU and/or are capable of being justified under Article 101 (3) TFEU.

This topic will also provide us with the opportunity to discuss if “a new economic constitutionalism” is likely to emerge – a concept which reflects a constitutional shift in the EU  integration process. Thus, the elements of a new ‘Political economy’ of the Union could be outlined. In this context and on this basis the Union will be in a position to shape the world around it through leadership which reflects its strategic interests and values.

The third topic is entitled European Social Union.

The purpose of this topic is to discuss the development and strengthening of a true and meaningful EU social dimension. It is often thought that while Europeaneconomic integration leads the way in European affairs, social coherence and social integration often lag behind. The topic thus aims at conceptualizing the idea of a European Social Union as a way of bringing the EU closer to its citizens.

It will address a number of issues amongst which feature specifically the following:  conflicts between free movement rights and social rights, the importance of the Charter-based “solidarity” rights, the impact of free movement on the demographic crisis and the adjacent “brain drain” phenomenon which has ravaged Eastern and Central Europe, as well as parts of Southern Europe, EU trade policy and labour rights’ protection, social justice and solidarity as common values of the Union.

This brings me to another central tenet of European integration: the principle of solidarity as an integral part of the constitutional identity of the EU.

En d’autre termes, notre analyse risque de rester incomplète sans l’inclusion de ce principe ou de cette ‘ valeur’ – « Valeur commune des Etats membres et principe fédératif de l’Union européenne » selon certains auteurs  qui reflète  la dimension sociale de la construction européenne et couvre plusieurs aspects : sécurité sociale, libre circulation des personnes,  sécurité sociale des citoyens migrants, économiquement actifs ou non,  accès à des prestations sociales pour les ressortissants des Etats tiers au titre de séjour de longue durée dans l’Union ou de l’octroi de la protection internationale, l’incidence de la  solidarité sur les règles de concurrence et en matière d’aide d’Etat ; mais aussi sur l’action extérieure de l’Union, etc.

This mutual infiltration of values and principles between different areas of the Union’s legal order  is a characteristic feature of this order and of the Union itself and of its constitutional identity which has evolved – If I may borrow this expression – ‘ From a Community of Law to a Union of Values’.

For our part, we hope that the analytical framework which will emerge at the FIDE Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, will help national and EU institutions to envisage and eventually to build an ‘Ever closer and stronger Union’.

 

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Sofia, Bulgaria, in May 2023 !

Alexander Arabadjiev

President of FIDE 2021 – 2023 / President of BAEL

Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union