Divided Europe and the Law

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference


This was an invited key note to the section on European Union and Competition Law of the Society of Legal Scholars' Annual Conference in Dublin
23 June 2016 may seem as the EU’s watershed moment: a slim majority of citizens participating in a referendum on the UK’s continuing EU membership voted to leave the EU. While certainly informed by national (and subnational) peculiarities, the vote and subsequent implementation also expose divisions among EU citizens relevant beyond the UK.
Those divisions encompass the degree to which policies should be pursued at national or EUropean levels, whether EU economic integration should be intensified or reversed, whether the EU’s economic integration project does and should serve societies, and whether the EU should continue to mature beyond economic integration. Divided Europe may also hail a new age of law: integration through law may be superseded by disintegration through legalism, and traditional international law beyond the reach of the oft-criticised European Court of Justice may be the UK’s preferred route of pursuing a future relationship with the EU.
Divided Europe does not need to be the end of integration, though. European integration was never limited to the EU. Larger units such as the European Economic Area, the Schengen Area and the group of states signing up to the European Convention of Human Rights form concentric circles around the most integrated states within the EU and the Eurozone, while smaller units such as the Common Travel Area, the Benelux cooperation, the Visegrad Cooperation and the cooperation in the Nordic Council form decentring sub-circles, partly overlapping with the EU. Within these spheres of integrating Europe, legal frames constitute conditions for economic, social and civic interaction – these can be enabling as well as limiting. While politicians may declare the “ever closer Union” as defunct, legal frames of European integration within and beyond the EU may well continue to pursue integration through law, with innovative levels of flexibility and responsiveness.
Period07 Sep 2017
Event titleSLS Annual Conference 2017
Event typeConference
LocationDublin, Ireland
Degree of RecognitionInternational