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Law on Trial 2016: The EU at the Crossroads

The School of Law will put the European Union on trial one week before the referendum

One week before the UK decides on its future in Europe, the European Union will be on trial at the School of Law’s annual week-long programme of free-to-attend public lectures and panel discussions.

The annual showcase will run from Monday 13 to Friday 17 June 2016 and will bring together academic staff, recognised internationally as authorities in their field.


The European Union is reeling and talk of ‘Brexit’ grips the UK. Beyond this island, however, the Union is being questioned as never before.

Financial crisis, sovereign debt crisis, the migration crisis, and ‘Grexit’ have all challenged the gentle and seemingly unyielding process of European integration. Is the dream over? Is the notion of an ‘ever closer Union’ between the peoples of Europe an outdated idea?

This year's Law on Trial will investigate the following issues.

  • What are the reasons for and the consequences of the various crises which Europe is now struggling to master?
  • Will we see ‘more Europe’ as core European states within the Eurozone intensify their co-operation and integration in order to sustain the Euro?
  • Are migration pressures and concerns about sovereignty encouraging a central power within the Union, giving rise to an increasingly fractured series of European unions?

Only one thing is clear. Whichever way the UK votes on the 23rd June, the European Union of 2020 will be very different from the Europe imagined in the 2000s.

The event programme for Law on Trial 2016 (all events start at 6.30PM):

Monday 13th June 2016. Europe at the Crossroads: Change as Crisis?

  • In association with BeBirkbeck, Faculty of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London.
  • Speaker: Professor Michelle Everson
  • The European Union has always been about ‘change’. The European Economic Communities evolved into the European Community, and later, the ‘ever closer Union of European Peoples’. Other examples are formation of the Economic and Monetary Union, the Eastern European Enlargement, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • The chameleon-like EU has long been a confident master of transformation. Yet, both the recent financial crisis and an on-going migration crisis, are testing the European Union as never before.
  • What form of Europe will emerge from this period of crisis? This lecture will investigate the roots and nature of the current European crisis, the moralities and the pathologies of Europeanism, and identify the possible futures of Europe and European identity.

Tuesday 14th June 2016. Brexit: Should the UK leave the EU?

  • In association with ELSA (European Law Students Association).
  • Speakers: Professor John Erik FossumProfessor Justin FrosiniRoch Dunin & more to be confirmed.
  • We do not yet know how the United Kingdom will vote on the 23rd June and the Brexit debate has proved complex and confusing for members of the public and EU experts alike. What the debate reveals, however, is a peculiarly British discomfort about the relationship between the United Kingdom and its continental neighbours.
  • This event brings together commentary from mainland Europe. Which way will the UK vote? Which way should the UK vote? And, what will the consequences be for the European Union?
  • The event will be followed by a reception. All are welcome.

Wednesday 15th June 2016. Angela 'Scrooge' Merkel or 'Saint' Angela Merkel: Europe's Migration Crisis.

  • Speakers: Dr Nadine El-EnanyFotis VergisDr Eva NanopoulusDr Marko Milenkovic & more to be confirmed.
  • The sight of thousands of migrants struggling to reach the rich countries of northern Europe has shocked the public. Scholars of the European Union, however, are generally less surprised by these scenes: perilous migration across the Mediterranean has been the unspoken accompaniment to intensified European integration for very many years now.
  • What has surprised even Europeanists, however, is the confrontation between the migration and sovereign debt crises. On the one hand, Greece, a country bailed out by the European Bank, is under colonial direction by the remainder of the EU to act as a refugee holding camp. On the other, the Angela ‘Scrooge’ Merkel of economic crisis transforms as Saint Angela Merkel of the migration crisis.
  • This panel of young critical European lawyers will explore this multi-faceted crisis from the varying national perspectives of the candidate countries of the Balkans, Greece, Germany and the UK.

Thursday 16th June 2016. Can the EU Regulate a Financial Crisis?

  • In association with The Academic Research Network on the Agentification of EU Executive Governance (TARN).
  • Speakers: Professor Ellen Vos & more to be confirmed.
  • The sovereign debt crisis within the Eurozone is rooted in the global financial crisis created by the risks associated with US mortgage lending, which in turn made themselves felt within the state budgets of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy.
  • But, what of Europe's financial future? Is financial crisis now a lesser danger? This session tackles this topic and also deals with the bane of many a Brexit campaigner: the nature and legitimacy of EU regulation as a whole. How does the EU regulate? Is the EU legitimate and, in particular, is it effective, especially as regards financial security for the consumer?
  • This event is followed by a reception hosted by TARN.

Friday 17th June 2016. The EU at the Crossroads: Can Europe Build Itself a Future?

  • Speakers: Professor Erik Oddvar EriksenProfessor John Ryan & more to be confirmed.
  • What is the future for the EU?
  • This seemingly impossible-to-answer question will be tackled by a panel of experts on European integration. In June 2016, it is impossible to identify one particular future for Europe. But, what are the possible futures of the Union?
  • Will the central forces of crisis undermine the European project in its entirety? Are there particular steps that can be taken to overcome current concerns, for example the ongoing problem of democratic deficit? What roles can law and legal theory play in guiding the European Union into the future?

Please email with enquiries.

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