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COVID-19 Research

The following Institutes have reported research and other academic activities related to COVID-19:

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law (Hamburg) 

Publications

Events

  • Conference ‘Reaktionen auf Corona im japanischen und deutschen Recht‘, 12 August 2020–13 August 2020
  • The Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg is starting a new virtual workshop series in private international law (https://www.mpipriv.de/1190683/aktuelle-forschung-im-ipr). The first speaker, Professor Matthias Lehmann from Bonn University will present (in German) on Tuesday, 2 June 2020, at 11:00­–12:30 via zoom. His topic will be COVID-19 and Private International Law (see also here and here). Open to everyone, including doctoral and predoctoral students
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Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg) 

1. Activities with regards to COVID-19 and Global Health Governance

a) Publications

  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villarreal, Pedro: International Law on Pandemic Response: A First Stocktaking in Light of the Coronavirus Crisis. Max Planck Research Paper Series, 26 March 2020 https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3561650
  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villareal, Pedro: Derecho internacional público y la respuesta frente a la pandemia de COVID-19. In: Emergencia Sanitaria por COVID-19. Derecho constitucional comparado, Nuria González Martín, Diego Valadés (Hrsg.). Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexiko, 2020, 13–23. https://www.juridicas.unam.mx/publicaciones/detalle-publicacion/157
  • Villarreal, Pedro: Las medidas sanitarias de respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19: Derechos humanos en tensión. In: Emergencia sanitaria por COVID-19: Reflexiones desde el Derecho (I), Nuria González Martín (Hrsg.). Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexiko, 2020, 39–46. https://www.juridicas.unam.mx/publicaciones/detalle-publicacion/151
  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villarreal, Pedro: Critical Features of International Authority in Pandemic Response: The WHO in the COVID-19 Crisis, Human Rights and the Changing World Order. MPIL Research Paper Series, 14 May 2020, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3600058.
  • Villarreal, Pedro: Differential Treatment in the International Health Regulations: Towards a Nuanced Perspective. In: Migration and Medicine, Florian Steger, Marcin Orzechowski, Giovanni Rubeis and Maximilian Schochow (Eds.). Verlag Karl Alber, forthcoming.
  • Villarreal, Pedro: Chapter 14: Public Health Emergencies and Constitutionalism Before COVID-19: Between the International and the National, In: Richard Albert and Yaniv Roznai (Eds.), Constitutionalism Under Extreme Conditions. Springer Nature, 2020, forthcoming.
  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villarreal, Pedro: Die Weltgesundheitsorganisation in der COVID-19 Pandemie. Über internationale öffentliche Gewalt in der Krise und den Wandel der Weltordnung, forthcoming.

b) Shorter Contributions

c) Interviews

d) Presentations

  • Peters, Anne: The Rise of Due Diligence as a Structural Change of the International Legal Order, Keynote Address to the Ninth Annual Cambridge International Law Conference, 16–17 April 2020, Zoom webinar.
  • Villarreal, Pedro: Pandemia del coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: Una perspectiva de Derecho y gobernanza global. Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Online-Präsentation, 1 April 2020, 19:00.
  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villarreal, Pedro: Coronavirus y Derecho Público Global. Universidad Externado de Colombia, Online-Seminar, 3 April 2020, 15:00.
  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villarreal, Pedro: El Reglamento Sanitario de la OMS frente a las obligaciones de los Estados y los derechos humanos. MPIL Webinar Series COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: ¿Cómo hacer frente a una pandemia?, 8 April 2020, 16:00.
  • Villarreal, Pedro: COVID-19 and Public International Law. Online-Vorlesung, Völkerrechtliches Kolloquium, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, 20 April 2020, 16:00.
  • Villarreal, Pedro: International Law and Pandemics: An Overview in Light of the COVID-19 Crisis. The University of Chicago Law School, Online Seminar, 21 April 2020, 12:15.
  • Villarreal, Pedro: States’ Obligations under the WHO’s International Health Regulations. Global Health Governance, Sovereignty and Human rights in the Shadow of COVID-19. Tel Aviv University, Online-Seminar, 27 April 2020, 16:15.

e) Audio

 2. Activities in the field of the COVID-19 Crisis in Latin America

The Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg constituted a working group composed of three researchers, aimed at analyzing the effects of the COVID-19 Crisis in Latin America from the perspective of Public Law, the protection of public health, social and labor law as well as human rights. The goal is to gather multiple perspectives on a range of issues. The working group corresponds to the planning of academic events on the topic of COVID-19 and Law in Latin America.

a) Publications

  • Morales Antoniazzi, Mariela: Sin excepción: la interamericanización como respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19 en América Latina. In: Emergencia sanitaria por COVID-19. Derecho constitucional comparado, Nuria González Martín, Diego Valadés (Eds.). Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico, 2020, 165–172. https://www.juridicas.unam.mx/publicaciones/detalle-publicacion/157
  • Morales Antoniazzi, Mariela; Barraco, María: La interamericanización del acceso a la información: un mecanismo clave frente a la pandemia del COVID-19 y la crisis climática. In: La emergencia sanitaria COVID-19 a la luz de la emergencia climática: retos, oportunidades y lecciones aprendidas, Henry Jiménez Guanipa; Marisol Anglés (Eds.) (RICEDH/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, forthcoming).
  • Ayala, Carlos: Los retos de la pandemia del COVID-19 para el Estado de Derecho, la democracia y los derechos humanos, MPIL Research Paper Series, forthcoming.
  • Piovesan, Flavia; Morales Antoniazzi, Mariela; Rossi Ignácio, Renata: COVID-19 in Latin America and the Inverted Principle of Interdependence and Indivisibility of Human Rights, MPIL Research Paper Series, forthcoming.
  • von Bogdandy, Armin; Casal Hernández, Jesús María; Morales Antoniazzi, Mariela: Estados de excepción y Estado de Derecho en América Latina ante la pandemia (COVID-19). Un análisis desde el Ius Constitutionale Commune,

    b) Short Publications

    c) Presentations

    • Morales, Mariela Antoniazzi: La indivisibilidad e interdependencia de los derechos humanos. Seminario Virtual Derecho Procesal Constitucional, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Sao Paulo, Estudios de Pos Grado, Brazil, 30 March 2020, 14:30.
    • von Bogdandy, Armin; Villarreal, Pedro: Coronavirus y Derecho Público Global. Universidad Externado de Colombia, 3 April 2020, 15:00.
    • von Bogdandy, Armin: Ius Constitutionale Commune en América Latina. Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, Suprema Corte de la Nación, Mexico, 24 April 2020, 10:00.
    • Morales, Mariela Antoniazzi: El proceso de interamericanización en América Latina para enfrentar la pandemia COVID-19. Seminario Virtual Derecho Procesal Constitucional, IIDPC, Mexico, 1 May 2020.
    • Morales, Mariela Antoniazzi: El derecho a la salud a la luz de la interamericanización frente a la Pandemia COVID-19. Webinar: ‘Medio Ambiente, salud y bienestar: perspectivas nacionales y comparadas’, Ciclo ECODERECHO, foros virtuales para una Constitución del Siglo XXI, Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Chile, 8 May 2020, 17:30.
    • Morales, Mariela Antoniazzi: Los estándares interamericanos como respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19 en América Latina frente a los estados de excepción. Semana de Derecho, Panel: Constitucionalidad de las medidas restrictivas de derechos en el marco del COVID-19, Universidad del Norte, Colombia, 14 May 2020.
    • Morales, Mariela Antoniazzi: Sin excepción: la interamericanización como respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19 en América Latina. Webinar: El derecho público en tiempos de COVID-19, Supremo Tribunal Federal, Brasilien, 15 May 2020.
    • von Bogdandy, Armin: Derecho internacional público y la respuesta frente a la pandemia de COVID-19. Webinar: El derecho público en tiemposo de COVID-19, Supremo Tribunal Federal, Brasilien, 15 May 2020.

      d) Webinar Series

      In April of this year, the Institute created a special Webinar series on COVID-19 and Law in Latin America with the Title: ‘COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: ¿Cómo hacer frente a una pandemia?’ The Webinars take place in a two-week cycle and tackle theoretical, dogmatic and empirical aspects of the crisis in the region. The publication of the Webinars will take place jointly with the Instituto de Estudios Constitucionales del Estado de Querétaro of Mexico.

      The title of the previous and upcoming activities are:

      • 8 April 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: ¿Cómo hacer frente a una pandemia?
      • 23 April 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Desafíos desde la perspectiva laboral
      • 7 May 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Perspectiva desde la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos
      • 22 May 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Desafíos desde la perspectiva de migración
      • 4 June 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Desafíos desde la perspectiva filosófica
      • 17June2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Perspectivas desde la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos
      • 1 July 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Desafíos desde el derecho económico internacional
      • 21 July 2020: COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Desafíos desde la perspectiva de género

        e) Cooperation with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

        • Info-Graphic on the Right to Health in the COVID-19 Crisis for promoting the relevant standards of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The Info-Graphic is also available on the Website of the Court: http://www.corteidh.or.cr/sitios/libros/todos/docs/infografia-covid.pdf
        • Webinar on 17 June 2020 with Representatives from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights: ‘COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Perspectivas desde la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos’.

          f) Cooperation with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

          • Presentation by the President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on 4 April 2020 on the topic: ‘Human rights in times of the pandemic. The standards of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights’.
          • Webinar on 7 May 2020 with the President and Representatives of said Commission: ‘COVID-19 y sus impactos en América Latina: Perspectiva desde la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos’.
          • Creation of the European Alumni-Association of the Commission through a collaboration between the Institute and the Commission, in order to consolidate the joint activities between the institute and the Commission, such as an observatory of the ‘Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit’ as well as to support future publications.

            g) Online Courses in the Field of Dialogue with Latin American Partner Institutions

            Recently, an internet-based introductory course on Transformative Constitutionalism in Latin America in the aegis of the Ius Constitutionale Commune en América Latina Project (E-ICCAL) is available. It includes short presentations by several colleagues at the Institute and from the region (https://www.mpil.de/de/pub/forschung/nach-rechtsgebieten/oeffentliches-recht/ius-constitutionale-commune.cfm). The publication of further presentations is planned for the second half of 2020.

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            Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt) 

            This is not the first pandemic in history requiring the input of lawyers, and almost certainly not the last. Professor Karl Härter, an expert on early modern criminal and administrative law, has therefore joined an initiative of Professor David Schorr, who directs the Berg Institute for Law and History at the Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University, on the legal history of epidemics. The project has published an online bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources:  https://environmentlawhistory.blogspot.com/p/legal-history.html

            Dr Peter Collin is a co-editor of volume 5 of the journal ‘Administory’. This will have a focus on ‘Administrative Multinormativity’ and will contain a contribution by Axel C Hüntelmann (Charité Berlin) that shows, using the example of the Charité in the nineteenth century, how different normativities (health and safety, regulation of epidemics, financial, and commercial) were balanced against each other.

            Dr Sigfrido Ramírez Pérez has joined a network of around 100 French speaking academics, Le réseau POSOC-19 (POuvoirs et SOciétés face à la Crise du covid-19): https://wprn.org/item/421952. POSOC-19 is coordinated by the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and SciencePo Aix Marseille. It is concerned with the impact of the current crisis on political and legal systems in a comparative perspective. Dr Ramírez Pérez examines how the European Union is reacting to such crises and which changes might lie ahead in the economic and legal paradigms underlying EU public policies, particularly in the areas of competition and industrial policy.

            The work of Professor Stefan Vogenauer, Director at the Institute, on contract law in a historical and comparative perspective, has long focused on how contract laws react to unforeseen changes in circumstances which occur after the conclusion of a contract and unsettle the contractual equilibrium. What happens, for example, if a contracting party cannot perform because its factory has to close down during a pandemic? What happens if performance becomes much more onerous for a party because market conditions change dramatically and the price for, say, protective equipment skyrockets? Different contract laws employ various doctrines to deal with such scenarios: ‘force majeure’, ‘hardship’, ‘collapse of the basis of the transaction’, ‘frustration of contracts’ etc.

            A comparative overview of how the most important European legal systems tackle these issues can be found in chapters 28 to 30 of the third edition of Cases, Materials and Text on Contract Law, a volume in the Ius Commune Casebooks for the Common Law of Europe series which he co-authored in 2019. An article on the solutions devised by the French and Belgian Supreme Courts on the basis of transnational commercial law instruments is forthcoming in the Festschrift für Herbert Kronke in July (‘Supervening Events in Contract Law: two Cases on the Interaction of National Contract Laws, International Uniform Law and “Soft Law” Instruments’). Later this year, the Zeitschrift für Internationales Wirtschaftsrecht (IWRZ) will feature an article on hardship clauses in international commercial contracts, based on a lecture given to the Annual Meeting of German International Commercial Law Practitioners in November 2019 (‘”Hardship Clauses” in internationalen Kaufverträgen aus rechtlicher Sicht’). Finally, Professor Vogenauer is currently co-editing volume V of the Studies on the Contract Laws of Asia series, on Ending and Changing Contracts, published with Oxford University Press. This will cover 14 jurisdictions from East Asia, South East Asia and South Asia, many of which have valuable recent experiences of previous pandemics, such as SARS and H1N1 influenza (‘swine flu’).

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            Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International European and Regulatory Procedural Law  

            Time taken by the EU institutions and Member states to manage the coronavirus crisis is incompatible with the time of the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle can be defined as a principle of anticipated action that requires the competent authorities to anticipate the traditional time for the adoption of a measure to protect the environment and public health. Its time is composed of a time of science (time needed to carry out a scientific risk assessment) and a time of politics (time needed to perform a cost and benefit analysis of the action on the basis of the precautionary principle). In a situation of a pandemic, the time of the precautionary principle should be distinguished from the time of emergency. Under the framework of anticipation and concerning the Covid-19 crisis, the EU Member States should not have waited until the risk of spreading of the coronavirus was certain in their own countries. Still, they should have acted before when the risk of contagion coming from China was only uncertain. If the time of the precautionary principle is not respected, we enter into the second time-dimension of a pandemic: the time of emergency. Emergency determines a compression of the time of action, requesting more to be done quicker. In such circumstances, there is no longer a need to prevent the occurrence of risk (which has already occurred) but the need to mitigate its effects. Considering the cyclical time of pandemics, we will see if next time, the decision-makers will anticipate the time of action by applying in due time the precautionary principle, or as is the case in the ongoing pandemic, they will wait for the time of emergency before implementing effective risk management measures.

            During the on-going coronavirus crisis, not only, climate change has disappeared from the media and political discourse, but also some of the milestones of the fight against climate change may be undermined due to the coronavirus outbreak. In this context, the purpose of this post is to demonstrate that, despite the tendency (or the willingness?) to focus on the coronavirus crisis and to neglect the climate crisis, these two crises are intertwined. This means that coronavirus and climate change are not two different crises, but they represent two sides of the same significant turmoil relating to the progressive degradation of our environmental and health ecosystems. Thus, they shall be tackled through a common, coordinated, and consistent EU risk management strategy. Such risk management strategy – to be adopted in a synchronized way by the EU institutions and Member states – shall be based on a holistic and interdisciplinary approach that shall enable EU decision-makers to tackle in a transversal way both the environmental and health dimensions of risks and their consequences on the social, economic and political level. Moreover, this strategy shall allow timely anticipation of the risks relating to climate change and pandemics by fostering a new (more respectful) approach to nature and a new (more nuanced) vision of economic development.

             

            By acknowledging the diversity and the fragmentation of the precautionary measures taken by the Member states to tackle the coronavirus crisis, this article makes a critical assessment of such measures as well as of the actions taken by the EU institutions in light of the rules and practices governing the application of the precautionary principle under EU law.

             

            Based on the precautionary principle and to protect the right to life under Article L. 521-2 of the French Code of Administrative Justice, the Administrative Tribunal of Guadeloupe (Judge for interim relief) ordered the Regional Health Agency of Guadeloupe and the University Hospital Centre of Guadeloupe to procure 200,000 Covid-19 screening tests corresponding to half of the population of Guadeloupe and to buy the doses necessary for the treatment of the Covid-19 epidemic with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for 20,000 patients. On appeal, the French Council of State, by disregarding the application of the precautionary principle and with controversial reasoning concerning the relationship between discretionary power and scientific uncertainty, annulled the decision of the Administrative Tribunal of Guadeloupe.

             

            The race to find a vaccine and/or an effective treatment for Covid-19 is going to face significant legal obstacles (especially patent protections), and material constraints (as there is only a limited amount of vaccines that we can produce annually). In this context, although our human rights repertoire includes the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific research”, this right does not seem directly useful with respect to the issue of global distribution of vaccines and drugs in the event of a pandemic. A global discussion is needed on how to share the limited numbers of vaccines and/or drugs for Covid-19, or we risk finding ourselves in a situation where people in low- and middle-income countries are not able to legally and materially access these treatments.

             

            This blogpost examines the interplay between COVID-19 and the EU foreign investment regime. More specifically, it explores the increased risks of acquisitions by foreign investors of essential assets such as European healthcare capacities and research establishments (e.g. the ones working on a COVID-19 vaccine). Such risks have in turn prompted political reactions by EU Member States and EU institutions alike. For instance, the EU Commission recently issued specific guidelines on how to screen foreign investments in the EU territories specifically with respect to assets essential to national security and public order. In her view, especially given the current global crisis, the EU Commission is rightly calling for a joint European reaction to such risks of foreign take-overs. Yet, one should always be wary when raising walls. Indeed, another threat may be lurking, one that does not have a foreign nationality. She finds that the sentiment of distrust among Member States may indeed shift the discussion from adopting an “European Protection” of essential assets towards accepting a plurality of individual protectionisms raised in the name of a higher purpose, national security.

             

            In times of neoliberalism, it is healthy hearing the Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg say that “the protection of health and life takes precedence over economic interests”. But this declaration came in the context of the recourse to extraordinary emergency powers, on the day before the Government declared the “state of crisis” to face the Coronavirus situation. In Luxembourg, this tool to regulate emergencies has progressively found its path into the Constitution. This article analyses the historical crescendo of emergency powers in Luxembourg. It then focuses on the legal morphology of the governmental reaction to the corona-virus situation, to highlight the risks and problems that the state of crisis entails for democracy and fundamental rights protection, in terms of clarity, equality and solidarity.

             

            In light of the COVID-19 crisis, this work analyses the likelihood of the survival of ‘arbitration’ as a mechanism for the resolution of international investor-State disputes, especially in light of a trend towards State-State dispute settlement (SSDS), and other mechanisms for resolving investor-State disputes including the resolution through an investment court system (ICS) as proposed by the European Union.

             

            Since the start of the Covid-19 health crisis, several actions for interim measures have been brought before the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. Those actions challenged the measures adopted by the local governments of Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg. The study of those claims highlights the maintenance of effective judicial protection despite the adoption, in the Länder, of exceptional legality. It also emphasises an instrumentalization of fundamental rights which intend to promote individual interest over collective interest.

             

            Against the inclination to declare the state of emergency to deter and prevent the COVID-19 virus, Viet Nam has been relying on its ‘normal’ executive power to combat the pandemic. This blog post seeks to elaborate that: in practice, the ‘normal-time’ measures are largely overlapped with ‘emergency-time’ measures and, as it stands, if Viet Nam were to declare a state of emergency there would be no reserving policy space for the government to fall back to, eg. with regard to limiting the freedom of movement, gatherings or imposing quarantine. The post suggests that Viet Nam should use the pandemic as the opportunity to revise its legislation and clearly distinguish between emergency and non-emergency measure, both in terms of degree and scope.

             

            This blog post analyzes the way Serbia reacted to the Covid-19 crisis. It is a legal analysis of the measures imposed by the Serbian Government, but the article also reflects on the overall political situation in Serbia. Through the study of the conduct of the executive and judiciary during the pandemic, two main points are made. Firstly, many of the measures imposed by the executive are problematic both from a substantive and procedural perspective. Secondly, and even more worrisome, the judiciary failed to react appropriately and protect fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

            The blogpost expounds on and contextualizes the measures adopted by the Italian executive to assist the judiciary in these circumstances. In doing so, it offers an outlook on how these measures impact on some fundamental principles of civil procedure (e.g. the right of defense, the equality of arms, the reasonable length of the proceedings) enshrined in the Italian Constitution, the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human rights.

            The article gives an insight into the consequences determined by the exceptional measures adopted by the Member States  during the emergency situation of Covid-19 in the field of European civil justice. The Covid-19 crisis may create situations where respecting the obligations set out by Union law is temporarily impossible or excessively difficult. Some paradigmatic examples have been considered: first, there are implications for two pure instruments of judicial cooperation in civil matters, the Service Regulation and the Regulation on the taking of evidence; further, in the field of family law, child abduction and protection proceedings are strongly influenced. finally, the impact on EU time limits is particularly significant.

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            Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle) 

            Dr Luc Leboeuf is the Principal Investigator of an EU-funded research project, VULNER (www.vulner.eu), with the goal of studying how the ‘vulnerabilities’ of asylum seekers are being assessed and addressed in selected countries in Europe (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Norway), the Middle East (Lebanon), Africa (Uganda and South Africa), and North America (Canada). The project is grounded in the methodological approach of the department of ‘Law & Anthropology’, which combines legal and empirical research methods. It includes a study of the legal frameworks, implementation practices, and the experiences of the actors involved, including how they adapt their behavior in the face of existing norms and mobilize these norms to support their survival strategies. Around twenty researchers and ten research institutions are taking part to the project.

            As part of the project, a webinar took place on 2 June 2020 to reflect on and assess the consequences of border closures on vulnerable migrants, and take stock of the various relevant initiatives that have been organized, such as the relocation of unaccompanied minors from Greek refugee camps to other Member States. Besides organizing this event, Dr Lebouf is taking part in a special issue of the Revue des affaires européennes/Law & European Affairs on COVID and EU law, coordinated by Fabrice Picod and Edouard Dubout (both Professors in law at Paris Assas). Dr Leboeuf’s contribution analyses the EU legal framework on border closures.

            Dr Katia Bianchini is working on migration, also applying the specific methodological approach of the ‘Law & Anthropology’ department combining legal and empirical research methods to study the legal frameworks and implementation practices. Her work is on access to asylum, particularly access to the territory of a safe country. Her research agenda has been adapted to include a study of the consequences of border closures on the search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. She plans to apply a rule of law approach to analyse the current situation.

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            Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy (Munich)

            1. Publications

            Becker, Ulrich; Hohnerlein, Eva; Seemann, Anika; He, Linxin; and Wilman, Nicola, Securing Existence in the Corona Crisis.

            The COVID-19 pandemic plunges the global economy into crisis. For Germany, a decline of GDP by 6.3 % is expected. According to prognosis by the European Commission, Italy’s GDP might even decline by 9.5%. Additionally, the labour market is put under extreme pressure. In order to stabilize the economy, preserve jobs and secure livelihoods, governments spend excessive amounts of money. Germany introduced the biggest aid package in its history, which amounts to 353.3 billion Euros. A team of legal scholars led by Professor Ulrich Becker, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, has examined the economic, labour market, and social law measures adopted by the end of April 2020 to combat the crisis in five European countries: Germany, Italy, Great Britain, France, and Denmark. ‘The current situation holds up a mirror to the normal state of affairs, since existing deficits become particularly apparent. Beyond the comparison of the means of crisis management, our study may also provide an opportunity to reconsider fundamental questions on the welfare state such as the distribution of responsibility’, concludes Ulrich Becker.

            The study shows parallels between the five countries, but also displays revealing differences. One of the most important socio-political tools are compensation payments for short-time work or temporary unemployment in order to preserve jobs. Denmark has even introduced respective benefits to prevent dismissals; a specific scheme is also planned in England. In both countries, this not only leads to new social benefits but also to a partial departure from flexibility in terms of labour market policy and its small protection against dismissal, as it was held so far. In all of the five countries, access to benefits in case of unemployment is facilitated. Activation measures and sanctions were largely suspended in all of the five countries. However, the countries show extremely different reactions in terms of labour law-related additional support to safeguard jobs: While Germany and England refrained from any such measures, Denmark and France introduced specific leave provisions, and Italy implemented special protection against dismissal.

            The results of the study ‘Existenzsicherung in der Coronakrise: Sozialpolitische Maßnahmen zum Erhalt von Arbeit, Wirtschaft und sozialem Schutz im Rechtsvergleich’ have now been published in volume 6 of the Institute’s working papers law series.

            2. Blogposts

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