Ideas and Causes - and a Small Crusade for the Rule of Law in Europe

“Whenever, looking at my watch, I see the hand has reached the figure X, I hear the bells beginning to ring in the church close by. But from the fact that the watch hands point to ten whenever the bells begin to ring, I have not the right to infer that the position of the hands of my watch is the cause of the vibration of the bells.” Leo Tolstoy

On 29 May 2018 Piotr Buras and myself, both Europe's Futures fellows, published a joint re- port on the rule of law in Poland. Rarely has any- thing I wrote had as much quick impact as this. We made a concrete recommendation: that the European Commission take Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to challenge its Law on the Supreme Court, which violated the core principles of the legal order of the European Union. On 2 July 2018, the European Commission started the procedure which led to Poland being taken to the CJ EU in September. The court issued an interim decision to stop implementation of the law. The Polish government withdrew its changes. It was a victory for the rule of law.

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Gerald Knaus is the founding chairman of the European Stability Initiative (ESI), a think tank with offices in Berlin, Brussels, and Vienna working on South East Europe and the Caucasus, European enlargement and the future of European Union’s foreign policy. He studied in Oxford, Brussels and Bologna, taught economics at the State University of Chernivtsi in Ukraine and spent five years working for NGOs and international organisations in Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2001 to 2004, he was the director of the Lessons Learned Unit of the EU Pillar of the UN Mission in Kosovo. In 2011, he co-authored, alongside the British MP Rory Stewart, the book Can Intervention Work?. He wrote scripts for award-winning TV documentaries on South East Europe and co-authored many ESI reports on EU enlargement, the Balkans, Turkey and the Caucasus that have triggered wide public debates, including Islamic Calvinists – Change and Conservatism in Central Anatolia, Caviar Diplomacy – How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe, and most recently The Merkel Plan and The Rome Plan on the refugee crisis and The European Swamp on corruption in the Council of Europe. Mr Knaus is a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and was for five years an Associate Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where he was also a Visiting Fellow in 2010/2011 lecturing on state building and intervention. In 2016/2017 he was a Mercator-IPC Senior Fellow in Istanbul. He is based in Berlin and Istanbul and writes the Rumeli Observer blog.