20 Jun 21 Jun

Between narratives and reality: The EU at the gates of a new mandate

The Law Faculty of Maastricht University and Studio Europa are organising an academic conference in the context of the incoming new term of the European Parliament and European Commission. The conference will explore how the ‘big narratives’ of the EU (its values, agenda, ambitions) relate to what the EU actually does: its legislation, actions, and ‘impact on the ground’. The goal is to reflect on the challenges of the next political mandate, from 2024 onwards.

In the past years, the Union’s initiatives have revolved around building a stronger and resilient Europe (amidst economic difficulty and war in the continent); achieving a greener economy; defending the common European values; and providing citizens a central role in shaping the future of the European project. Significant milestones have been attained, such as the establishment of NextGenerationEU as an unprecedented recovery instrument; the coordinated and strong response to the war of aggression against Ukraine; the adoption of key pieces of legislation delivering on 2030 climate targets; the use of the EU legal system against breaches of founding EU values; and the organisation of a citizen-led Conference on the Future of Europe. At the same time, the EU has sometimes fallen short of its ambitions. Political divisions, the dominance of certain interests in the policy-making process, insufficient solidarity towards vulnerable collectives and distrust of the impartiality and the effectiveness of EU institutions have been visible in recent times, challenging the official narratives put forward and questioning the Union’s strategic agenda.

This inter-disciplinary conference aims at examining the discrepancy between narratives and reality, across four different themes:

  • Institutional change
  • Environmental protection
  • Borders and membership
  • Inequality and cohesion


Programme on 20 June

12.45Registration & welcome coffee
13.30Institutional Greetings by:
Rianne Letschert (President, Maastricht University)
Jan Smits (Dean of the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University)
Ellen Vos (Co-Director of the Maastricht Centre for European Law, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University)

Keynote Speaker: Emily O’Reilly (European Ombudsman)
Discussant: Ellen Vos (Maastricht University)
15.00Coffee break
15.30Introduction to the conference
by Leticia Díez Sánchez and Fulvia Ristuccia (Maastricht University)
15.45Panel Session I: EU Institutional Change: Identifying Failures and Opportunities
Chair:  Thu Nguyen (Jaques Delors Centre Berlin) 

Fernanda Nicola (American University Washington College of Law)
“The Political Economy of the Rule of Law: Beyond the ECJ Narrative of Judicial Independence in the Polish Saga” 

Alexander Schuster (European University Institute)
“The Collective Securitization of EU Policies: Legal Consequences, Challenges and Solutions”

Jock Gardiner (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa)
“The Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament: A Vehicle for Informal Constitutional Change in the European Union”
17.15Coffee break
17.45Panel Session II: Environmental Protection
Chair: Francesca Colli (Maastricht University) 

Lucila de Almeida (Nova University and European University Institute)
“Between Narratives, Realities, and Legal Fiction: Empowerment as the role of consumers, the technology neutrality principle, and the National Energy and Climate Plans”

Justine Richelle (Maastricht University)
Environmental procedural rights and the EU Green Deal: where do we stand?” 

Zamira Xhaferri (University of Amsterdam)
“Externalizing the European Green Deal: New approaches to ‘green’ the EU’s Free Trade Agreements”
19.15Social Drinks

Programme on 21 June

09.00Panel Session III: Borders and Membership
Chair: Pauline Melin (Maastricht University) 

Martijn Pluim (European Institute of Public Administration)
“The New Pact on Migration and Asylum – A true European response?”

Lisa Senecal (Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon)
“Border Multiplicity”

Gamze Avci (University College Utrecht (Utrecht University)
“EU Pre-accession Assistance for Turkey : Shifting Narratives, Geopolitics and a Contested Candidate”
10.30Coffee break
11.00Panel Session IV: Inequality and Cohesion in the EU
Chair: Zina Nimeh (UNU-MERIT and Maastricht University) 

Balasz Szechy (European Parliament)
“The future of Cohesion Policy”

Pascal McDougall (Sciences Po Law School and University of Ottawa)
"Economic Crisis, The Right to Work, and Social Europe in 2024"

Marco Bevilacqua (Luiss Guido Carli)
“Under the Banner of the Renewed EU Fiscal Rules: EU Budget Control and Domestic Consistency”
12.30Closing Remarks
by Leticia Díez Sánchez and Fulvia Ristuccia (Maastricht University)