UCL European Institute


Challenges to the rule of law

The placing into question of respect for the rule of law in a number of EU Member States is seen as the most serious issue facing the Union. Four activities will be developed on this crucial theme.
New LLM module

This work package includes the integration of a new LLM module into the curriculum of the Faculty of Laws.The module aims to bring together legal, political science and historical perspectives to assess:
•    whether there is a rule of law crisis in the EU,
•    if so, what the reasons for this crisis are,
•    why the rule of law and judicial independence are so important to the European Union,
•    the effectiveness of the legal and political countermeasures taken by the Union in relation to rule of law issues,
•    what debates around the issue of the rule of law tell us about the future of the Union.

This activity is led by UCL Laws Prof. McCrea, supported by the EI team. 

An academic conference

This one day conference will assess where we are in relation to the ability of the Union to enforce compliance with the principle of the rule of law. As the attempt to strengthen the rule of law covers both political and legal manoeuvres and reforms it will bring together leading figures from academia, political institutions and NGOs to assess the following questions:
•    What have been the political successes and failures in struggle to enforce respect for the rule of law in Hungary and Poland?
•    Are there alternatives to the use of Article 7? What is the likelihood of successful insertion of rule of law conditionality into the next MFF? What are the institutional and political factors militating in favour and against such an outcome?
•    Does the CJEU ruling in relation to the Polish Supreme Court signify a turning point? Can high level test cases successfully protect the rule of law at lower levels?
•    Can national judicial appointments now be seen as an area of shared competence between the EU and Member States?
•    What are the legal and political consequences of failure to protect judicial independence?

This activity is led by UCL Laws Prof. McCrea, supported by the EI team

A research to policy roundtable 

This roundtable is specifically geared towards feeding academic expertise on the rule of law into discussion with policy professionals in Brussels. Hosted by the Open Society European Policy Institute, and co-curated with the European Institute’s academic leads on the Rule of Law work package, it draws on both institutions’ strengths to ensure cutting edge academic thinking informs political and policy discussions.

Key issues under discussion will include:

•    How to ensure compliance with the rule of law by using current instruments more effectively (infringement proceedings, Rule of Law mechanism, Article 7)?
•    Should the EU adopt new measures and procedures to sanction undermining of the rule of law (such as conditionality under next MFF, monitoring and standard-setting)?
•    Which institutions within the EU and outside could and should play a role in safeguarding the rule of law? What should be the respective roles of, inter alia, the Commission, Court of Justice, EU agencies (Fundamental Rights, Ombudsman), and the Council of Europe?
•    How could the EU as a political entity have a constructive and democratic debate about implementation and enforcement of the values in its Treaties? 
•    Should the EU aim to make the values in Article 2 TEU, including rule of law, more operational through the development of a specific values acquis?

UCL Rule of Law Seminar

This activity is led by Prof. Piet Eeckhout, Academic Director of the UCL EI and Dean of Laws, UCL. It is modelled on existing high-level legal seminars, which convene a forum where the world’s foremost jurists can confidentially discuss the most important legal issues of the day with leading academic lawyers. While adopting the format of this international, intensive seminar-style meeting, the UCL Rule of Law Seminar would however also include senior policy-makers and civil society representatives.