Department of International and European Union Law

International and European Union Law

The Department of International and European Union Law consists of a team of enthusiastic international legal experts who deal with many aspects of international and European Union law. Our academic staff has a wide ranging expertise and experience in different fields of international law (such as the law of international organizations, international environmental law, the law of the sea, international economic law, international criminal law, human rights law and the rule of law) and of European Union law (such as European institutional law, European constitutional law, European internal market law, European economic law, European citizenship law, European environmental law and judicial protection within the EU).

This expertise and experience is reflected in our teaching and research as well as our engagement with society. Our academic staff takes pleasure in engaging with motivated students, fellow researchers and partners in the academic world on contemporary issues of international and European Union law. In addition, we engage in the practice of international law and of European Union law.

About International and European Union Law

The importance of Public International Law (PIL) and European Union law (EUL) has increased tremendously over the past decades. PIL traditionally dealt with the structure and conduct of states only, but it has evolved and addresses other actors such as individuals, international organizations and multinational corporations. Likewise, the European Union and subsequently her law have gone through immense development in the course of last decades. The European Union - being a unique international organisation - has a complex system of law which not only affects the legal systems of her member states but it can also directly affect the rights and obligations of individuals.  What is more, as ruled by the European Court of Justice, EU law takes supreme position over state laws, and even state constitutions.

PIL offers a means for facilitating international cooperation for example in the areas of peace and security, development and economic cooperation, and aims to provide a barrier against for example the waging of unlawful wars, the violation of human rights and the deterioration of the environment. PIL also fulfills an important role in national legal systems, as states are bound to incorporate or implement its provisions in their legal systems. In this regard one may think of the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights (among others the right to free speech and religious freedom), the Statute of the International Criminal Court (according to which individuals can be investigated and prosecuted for the most serious crimes, such as genocide) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol (dealing with the problem of the warming of the atmosphere and providing the legal basis for the reduction of greenhouse gases across the globe).

PIL faces the challenge of having to deal with the effects of globalization, as a result of which international organizations have gained in significance and civil society has become transboundary in nature. These developments, in turn, demand that lawyers, be they practicing lawyers, judges, public servants managers or academics, be capable of undertaking sophisticated legal analysis of new and complex issues in which international law plays a significant role. 

EUL is a broad, complex but also very fascinating field which comprises issues of constitutional, institutional but also material and procedural law. We very seldom realize to what extent the law of the European Union influences the functioning of its Member States but also lives of individuals. The law regarding the Internal Market promotes economic integration and fair competition within the EU and aims at creating a dynamic, innovative and competitive legal environment by forbidding any restriction to the free movement of goods, workers, services and capital. The Economic and Monetary Union reinforces the integration and the competition effects of the Internal Market. The free movement of workers allows any person who holds the nationality of an EU country to undertake employment in any of the Member States of the Union. Also, any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen. This citizenship entails to move and reside freely within the EU; to vote for and stand as a candidate in European Parliament and municipal elections, or to be protected by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any other EU country. When those rights of individuals which follow from EU law are breached, the national administrative authorities and courts are expected to protect and enforce them. EU law also goes beyond the continent, i.e. it plays a role in the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU (for instance Curacao and Aruba) and the Outermost Regions of the EU (like Saint Martin and Guadeloupe). A good knowledge of EU law seems therefore an indispensable part of any legal education. All present and future legal practitioners, i.e. judges, attorneys, company lawyers or public servants should necessarily be familiar with this complex terrain of law.

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