States of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis: Situation in certain Member States II

Briefing 13-05-2020

Member States have adopted a range of emergency measures in response to the unprecedented public health crises generated by the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas not all Member States dispose of constitutional mechanisms to enable the declaration of a 'state of emergency', all have taken exceptional and far-reaching emergency measures that affect citizens' rights and freedoms as well as democratic processes. These institutional changes and the restrictions imposed on citizens' lives pose significant institutional and democratic challenges. Given their impact on fundamental rights and freedoms and on the normal functioning of democracy, emergency measures need to be carefully examined, matched with adequate legal safeguards, and subject to close democratic scrutiny. This is particularly true in the context of rapid changes of circumstances and in view of new evidence about the evolution of the crisis and its implications. This briefing covers the following countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Austria, Romania, and Slovenia. It focuses on three key aspects: i) the constitutional framework of the state emergency or legitimation of the emergency legislation; ii) the concrete measures adopted; and iii) the extent of parliamentary oversight exercised on the adopted measures. This briefing is the second in a series aimed at providing a comparative overview of Member States' institutional responses to the coronavirus crisis. The first in the series covered an initial set of seven Member States.