WZB CGC Supra-Nat project image
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The research project's overall aim is to provide a new theoretical basis for a principle-based EU challenge to the East-Central European judicial interpretations of national identity by the member states. It is of utmost importance because some East-Central European constitutional courts apply an ethnocultural understanding of identity, thereby putting European integration into peril.

Although the EU is clearly committed to shared values and principles, Article 4(2) of the Treaty on European Union obliges the EU to respect the national identities of the member states. Due to the recent migration flow in Europe, some member states are currently attempting to (re)define themselves and offer a legal definition of identity. They apply Article 4(2) as a means of derogating from some of their obligations under EU law.

Despite the vast literature available on national identity and its role in EU law, there has been little attention paid to the recently emerging trend of judicial reinvention of national identity in East-Central Europe. This is what this research offers. It focuses on the Visegrád Group (V4), which consists of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The V4 countries are united in rejecting migrant relocation quotas in the EU and defining their exclusionist communal identities accordingly. The research's main subject is the relevant case law of the constitutional courts since the V4 courts have an authoritative role in enforcing nation-state policies based upon ethnocultural considerations.

The project provides a new theoretical basis and a comparative-analytical description of the judicial interpretations of identity in the V4 countries, on which we can better understand the recent East Central European trend of disintegration. Furthermore, the project results provide a principle-based tool for an EU challenge to the judicial interpretations of national identity in the member states.

The project runs between September 2019 and August 2021.

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 794368.

Events, workshops, and invited talks (September 2019-August 2021):

9 September 2021, MANCEPT panel presentation "The Constitutional Vocabulary of Modern-day Autocrats", online.

24 June 2021, CES Panel "New Authoritarianism: Concepts, Techniques, and Tactics," chair and moderator. "Democratic and Authoritarian Understanding of the Concept of Identity", 27th International Conference of Europeanists, online presentation.

28 May 2021, LSA session "Can Constitutional Democracy Survive Populism?", chair and discussant. Speakers include Tom Ginsburg, Kim Lane Scheppele, Tarun Khatian, and George Tsebelis.

5 May 2021, "Taking Back the Constitution", Book Symposium with Mark Tushnet, King's College London, online presentation.

30 April 2021, Parliamentary Democracy in the European Convention on Human Rights, ELTE University Faculty of Law, online presentation.

3 March 2021, Identity, the Jurisprudence of Particularism and the Possible Constitutional Challenges, WZB Center for Global Constitutionalism Colloquium, online presentation.

15 January 2021, Workshop for the authors of the forthcoming book "National Identity Claims in Central-Europe. The Jurisprudence of Particularism", online presentation.

8 October 2020, People, Sovereignty and Citizenship: The Ethnonational Populists' Constitutional Vocabulary, WZB event 'The People in Question. How Constitutions Shape Citizenship', online presentation. 

3 June 2020, Human rights: Not just temporarily neglected. COVID crisis in the EU's authoritarian regimes, German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG)-European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), online presentation.

8 April 2020, Parliamentary Democracy by Default, WZB Center for Global Constitutionalism Colloquium, online presentation.

5 March 2020, Constitutional backsliding in East-Central Europe, US Council on International Educational Exchange, Wissenschaftzentrum, Berlin.

28 February 2020, Anti-Constitutionalist National Identity: The East-Central European Experience, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Berlin.

20 February 2020, Progression and Regression in Constitutional Adjudication, Constitutional Court of Moldova, Chisinau.

13 February 2020, The Return of the Schmittian, Lund University, Lund.

12 December 2019, German-Hungarian Expert Meeting “German and Hungarian Relations and the Future of the European Union”, Institut für Europäische Politik, Berlin.

27 November 2019, 19 89 19: Thirty Years After the Round Tables, Wissenschaftzentrum, Berlin.

Selected Publications

Kovács, Kriszta (2021): "Free and Fair Elections. The European Minimum Standards". In: Werkstatt Wahlen am WZB, 12.04.2021.
Kovács, Kriszta/Tóth, Gábor Attila (2021): "Od niedoskonałej demokracji do niekompletnej autokracji". In: Adam Czarnota/Michał Paździora/Michał Stambulski (Eds.): Nowy konstytucjonalizm. Polityczność, tożsamość, sfera publiczna. Warszawa: Scholar, S. 175-206.
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "#Orbanistan. Democracy in Lockdown". In: Public Seminar, 07.04.2020.
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "Der Runde Tisch. Ein verfassungspolitisches Instrument". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 167, S. 51..
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "Der Lockdown der Demokratie. Im Schatten der Pandemie baut Viktor Orbán den ungarischen Staat um". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 168, S. 20-23.
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "Parliamentary Democracy by Default. Applying the European Convention on Human Rights to Presidential Elections and Referendums". In: Jus Cogens - A Critical Journal of Philosophy of Law and Politics, Vol. 2, No. 3, S. 237-258. (vorab online publiziert 07.10.2020)
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "Jak Orbán zarządza przez kryzys". In: Kultura Liberalna, 07.04.2020.
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "[Rezension] People, Sovereignty and Citizenship: The Ethnonational Populists' Constitutional Vocabulary". In: Statelessness & Citizenship Review, Jg. 2, H. 2, S. 389-394.
Kovács, Kriszta (2020): "Democracy in Lockdown". In: Social Research - An International Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 2, Special Issue "In Time of Plague. The History and Social Consequences of Lethal Epidemic Disease - Covid-19 Edition", S. 255-262.
Kriszta, Kovács (2020): "Hungary's Orbánistan. A Complete Arsenal of Emergency Powers". In: Verfassungsblog - On Matters Constitutional, 06.04.2020. (Debate "COVID 19 and States of Emergency")
Kriszta, Kovács (2020): "How Can the ECtHR stay True to Its Commitment to Democracy?". In: LawLog, 30.10.2020.
Kriszta, Kovács/Leonhard, Ralf (2020): "Die Illusion des Wandels". In: Die Furche - Die österreichische Wochenzeitung, 23.01.2020, S. 8.
Kovács, Kriszta/Scheppele, Kim Lane (2019): "The Fragility of an Independent Judiciary. Lessons from Hungary and Poland -- and the European Union". In: Peter H Solomon/Kaja Gadowska (Eds.): Legal Change in Post-Communist States. Progress, Reversions, Explanations. Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, Vol. 208. Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, S. 55-95.
Kovács, Kriszta/Tóth, Gábor Attila (2019): "The Age of Constitutional Barbarism". In: Verfassungsblog - On Matters Constitutional, 07.09.2019.
Kriszta, Kovács (2019): "Round Table. An Adept Device for Constitutional Politics". In: Verfassungsblog - On Matters Constitutional, 09.12.2019. (Debate "19 89 19 - Thirty Years after the Round Tables")
Kriszta, Kovács (2019): "Constitutional Continuity Disrupted". In: Margit Feischmidt/Balázs Majtényi (Eds.): The Rise of Populist Nationalism. Social Resentments and Capturing the Constitution in Hungary. Budapest/New York, NY: Central European University Press, S. 11-41.