The 14th Congress of the Association of the European Public Law SIPE held in Riga: The Challenges of Digital Communication for the State and its Democratic State Form
From 13 to 15 June, the 14th Congress of Societas Iuris Publici Europaei (Association of the European Public Law, SIPE) on the challenges of digital communication for the State and its democratic state form is held in Riga. The Congress was opened by the SIPE President Jacques Ziller, the newly elected President of the Latvian State Egils Levits, the President of the Constitutional Court Ineta Ziemele, the Vice-speaker of the Saeima Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, and the Minister for Justice Jānis Bordāns.
In his opening speech, Jacques Ziller underscored that SIPE united the professionals and academicians of the whole branch of public law – administrative, constitutional and international public law – who provided their insight into the current issues of public law. SIPE uses three languages simultaneously, i.e., English, French and German. He also explained that this Congress was a continuation of the previous two congresses, during which the discussion on the challenges of digitalisation for the State and its democratic order had begun.
Egils Levits, in his speech, emphasised that the development of contemporary digital technologies caused challenges that required searching for other principles to continue implementation of democracy in these circumstances, at the same time being aware that the citizens’ free will and responsibility was retained in a democratic state governed by the rule of law.
Ineta Ziemele, in turn, drew attention of the Congress to the fact that Latvia had successfully established, with limited resources, within the period of one generation, a democratic state governed by the rule of law. She mentioned the pluralism and a system of horizontal relationships of the constitutional bodies as a feature typical of the Latvian constitutional order. Ineta Ziemele underscored that the Constitutional Court, in it judicature, consistently applied the principle of openness to the European and the international law, which allowed direct application of these legal norms within the Latvian legal system. Turning to the future in the age of digital technologies, Ineta Ziemele admitted that democracy could not be taken as a given. It should be developed constantly.
The work of the Congress was organised in five sessions. During the first one, the newly elected President of Latvia Egils Levits and the President of the Constitutional Court Ineta Ziemele together with Dimitris Charalambis (the University of Athens) discussed the challenges to the usual forms of democratic representation and relationships that follow from the opportunities provided by the digital age, in particular, in interpersonal communication; during the second session, in turn, the participants of the Congress discussed legitimate influence of the public opinion and unlawful manipulation with it. During the third session, issues related to aspects of self-defensive democracy and related challenges were in the focus of attention, and the fourth session was dedicated to the use of artificial intelligence and its role in the decision-taking process within the public administration. At the final session of the Congress on 15 June, the participants will discuss the implementation of the principle of the supremacy of the European Union Law in the supreme courts of the Member States.
Parallel to the Congress, SIPE Young Scholars School was held at the Riga Graduate School of Law, and SIPE members also visited the Constitutional Court.
SIPE Congress was supported by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Latvia, the Riga Graduate School, as well as Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
SIPE is an association established by European scholars in Frankfurt on the Main in 2013. The aim of this association, as an academic forum, is to discuss and study issues that pertain to public law in Europe, as well as its impact on all branches of law in general. The articles of association of SIPE as well as other useful information can be found on the website: http://www.sipe-online.eu
SIPE Executive Committee:
Jacques Ziller, Pavia, President
Jörn Axel Kämmerer, Hamburg, Secretary General
Julia Iliopoulos-Strangas, Athens
Egils Levits, Riga
Irena Lipowicz, Warsaw
Vasco Pereira da Silva, Lisbon
Michael Potacs, Vienna