11 July 2018

Countering populist politics in the EU: guest lecture by John Morijn

On Monday 9 July 2018 John Morijn gave a guest lecture entitled ‘Countering populist politics in the EU: the EPP Regulation and beyond’ to researchers of the Montaigne Centre for Rule of Law and Administration of Justice. 

John Morijn is a Dutch civil servant/diplomat and assistant professor of European human rights law at the University of Groningen. In the 2018-19 academic year he will take a leave of absence as a civil servant to study what to learn from and how to counter European populism, as Emile Noël fellow at NYU’s Jean Monnet Center. 

According to Morijn, populism is a mirror showing some of the less flattering aspects of the state of our liberal democracy. Morijn poses the question what these aspects are, how they are connected to (and perhaps even flow from) EU law and human rights law, and what questions require (harder) reflection if we want to revamp our standard defence. 

In his lecture Morijn first set out how populism can be defined, and how it currently prevails within the EU in different forms. He also showed how national populists are spread out over European political parties and political groups in the European Parliament. He next discussed the EU Regulation on the financing of European Political Parties and Foundations (Regulation 1141/2014) which provides for a horizontal EU values compliance mechanism, that has, however not yet been fully operationalized and may not be so for various (political) reasons. He has a forthcoming article on this topic to be published in ICON.  

From this, Morijn distilled three (preliminary) research lines, upon which he invited Montaigne members to reflect. First he posed the question whether (access to) the political arena should be regulated (even more) or instead better deregulated. In the following discussion the questions came up whether the European Parliament, given its competences, is a political arena in the same way as national parliaments are and whether that makes a difference in regulating access to it. Also, he identified a dichotomy of technocratisation v (re-)politicisation of policy-making. Lastly he put the question on the table how democratic principles and rule of law matters can be better communicated and educated.