Ongoing projects

  • The Academic Research Network on Agencification of EU Executive Governance (TARN)
  • MIPEX 2015
  • Taking European values more seriously: collective enforcement of EU non-economic law
  • OPENCULT (Managing Diversity in the EU: The Cultural Open Method of Coordination Revisited)
  • Maastricht Centre for Citizenship, Migration and Development (MACIMIDE)
  • Transnational Migration in Transition: Transformative Characteristics of Temporary Mobility of People (EURA-NET)
  • Marie Curie ITN project TRANSMIC
  • The European Network of Legal Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field

Ongoing PhD projects

The Academic Research Network on Agencification of EU Executive Governance (TARN)

Project Partners
Project partners include two members of MCEL, Ellen Vos and Bruno de Witte. A full list of persons involved is available here.

You are welcome to learn more on the activities of TARN on its website and facebook page.

The Academic Research Network on Agencification of EU Executive Governance (TARN) aims to fill two particular lacunae in current agency research by: 1. promoting in-depth multi- and interdisciplinary research on critical concerns about the position and operation of EU agencies and agency-like bodies to integrate isolated disciplinary approaches; 2. encouraging the dialogue between academia and practitioners that is needed to enhance the democratization of the EU in scholarship and practice. By bringing together renowned and young academics and practitioners from various disciplines and policy areas, pooling knowledge on research and legal provisions, policy documents and information on the practical operation of EU agencies, TARN will operate as a research, information and agenda-setting network informing agency operation within the EU in a transnational setting. More information on the project here.

Co-funded by Maastricht University and the Erasmus+ programme

November 2013 – April 2015

MIPEX 2015

Project Manager
The project is headed by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) and Migration Policy Group (MPG) jointly. CIDOB functions as project manager for the MIPEX 2015 updating process and the Migration Policy Group (MPG) as research coordinator. A full list of persons and institutions involved can be found here. Maastricht University has been selected as a National Partner. The project is managed locally by Alexander Hoogenboom and Hildegard Schneider.

Alexander Hoogenboom and Hildegard Schneider

The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) is a reference guide and a fully interactive tool to assess, compare and improve integration policy. It measures integration policies in Europe and North America in order to provide a view of integration policies across a broad range of differing environments. Using 148 policy indicators, MIPEX establishes the extent to which all residents are legally entitled to equal rights and responsibilities as well as to any support that addresses their specific needs to make equal opportunities a reality. MIPEX covers 7 policy strands ranging from access to the labour market and family reunification to long-term residence and provisions on anti-discrimination. A full list of policy indicators used can be found here. Maastricht University was selected as a ‘National Partner’ in charge of updating the MIPEX policy indicators for the Netherlands to the current state of the law and policy, and participates in the publication and dissemination of the results of the project. 

Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, Migration Policy Group and European Union

November 2013 – April 2015

Taking European values more seriously: collective enforcement of EU non-economic law

Project Manager
Elise Muir

This project aims to research how collective enforcement mechanisms could be used more effectively to enhance the protection of European non-economic rights. Such mechanisms empower civil society organizations, groups of individuals or individuals representing collective interests to bring legal actions. The research focuses in particular on two case studies: EU fundamental rights and environmental law.

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek): VENI grant


OPENCULT (Managing Diversity in the EU: The Cultural Open Method of Coordination Revisited)

Project Manager
Evangelia Psychogiopoulou

OPENCULT focuses on the use of the open method of coordination (OMC) as one of the new cultural policy tools employed by the EU in the wake of the European Agenda for Culture in a Globalizing World (COM(2007) 242). The project studies the configuration of the cultural OMC, the institutional structures and policy objectives that define it, and the complex array of policy processes and instruments that it involves. It explores the impact of the cultural OMC on the cultural policies of the Member States, and also examines its effects on the formation and evolution of the EU cultural policy.

European Union (Marie Curie Intra European Fellowships)


Maastricht Centre for Citizenship, Migration and Development (MACIMIDE)

Costica Dumbrava (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences- Political Science & Faculty of Law), MACIMIDE Executive Coordinator

Gerard-René de Groot (Faculty of Law), Co-Director
Valentina Mazzucato (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), Research Theme Leader: Transnational Families 
Hildegard Schneider (Faculty of Law), Research Theme Leader: Cross-border Mobility 
Melissa Siegel (Maastricht Graduate School of Governance & UNU-MERIT), Research Theme Leader: Migration and Development 
Maarten Vink (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), Co-Director, Research Theme Leader: Citizenship and Immigrant Integration

The Maastricht Centre for Citizenship, Migration and Development (MACIMIDE) is a new interdisciplinary research group of scholars from Maastricht University aimed at collaboration on issues of cross-border mobility, citizenship, transnationalism, migration and development. MACIMIDE brings together scholars from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, the Faculty of Law as well as the School of Business and Economics. The Centre is grounded in the Euregion, but focused on a globalizing world. For more information about MACIMIDE research, people, study opportunities, publications, events, and more, please visit our new website.


Transnational Migration in Transition: Transformative Characteristics of Temporary Mobility of People (EURA-NET)

Project Managers
Hildegard Schneider (Local Coordinator); Professor Pirkko Pitkänen (General coordinator, Tampere - Finland)

Natasja Reslow (Researcher for the Netherlands)

EURA-NET is an international research project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme for the period 2014-2017.
The objective of EURA-NET is to attain an understanding of the current characteristics and related policy impact of temporary transnational mobility of people. The findings in the European-Asian context will provide insights to be applied to other world regions.
The project seeks to help national and international policy-makers to address the challenges arising in the increasingly interconnected and demographically mobile world.
This will be done by discovering how politics structures the movement of people in sending, transit and receiving countries and by shedding light on the international practices and experiences of individual migrants.
The research outcomes will be communicated in the forms of scientific and policy reports and policy briefs to multi-level interest groups.

European Commission under the 7th Framework Project

February 2014 – January 2017

Marie Curie ITN project TRANSMIC

Project Manager
Hildegard Schneider

Natasja Reslow and Niels Philipsen 

This ITN project brings together a group of universities, think-tanks, institutes, practioners and high-level officials that all share a long-term interest in migration policies and citizenship issues and who have extensive academic and/or practical expertise in this field. Their inter- and multi-disciplinary knowledge and experience is pooled with the main objective of improving the European and international career opportunities of young researchers by offering them a coherent academic training programme complemented with a professional skills training programme and by exposing them to experience on the work-floor through an internship at a think-tank, a consultancy or a law firm, all specialized in the issue of migration and citizenship issues. In addition the network will also be a catalyst for intensive cooperation and exchange of best practices amongst the participating partners and promote interaction and fertilization between academia, professional organizations, representatives of European institutions and member States as well as policy makers in various countries of research all around the globe with an interest in transnational migration and citizenship questions. Given the intensity of the cooperation, it is to be expected that the network will also provide a solid basis for cooperation and interaction beyond ITN.
The focus of the research is the rapidly-evolving field of transnational migration and citizenship addressed from the perspective of circularity of rights and responsibilities. The in-depth and inter-multi-disciplinary study of the concept of transnational migration, citizenship and related problems concerning the mobility of migrants from a comparative and rights-based perspective is extremely topical in the light of the current political and academic debates concerning circular migration, mobility partnerships, high- and low skilled migration. These debates are directly connected with the concepts and positions taken towards acquired rights, citizenship and nationality. These research issues also contribute to our broader understanding of the origins, evolution and effects of migration movements for the host as well as the home societies.

European Union (Marie Curie Initial Training Networks)

September 2014 – September 2017

The European Network of Legal Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field

Lisa Waddington - disability coordinator

To effectively tackle discrimination, it is important to understand the effects of the EU's equal treatment legislation on the ground(s) of discrimination. Consequently, information on the implementation of the two anti-discrimination Directives into national law is as important as analysing their impact in practice - including any related case law. The European Commission therefore set up a network of legal experts in anti-discrimination to support its work by providing independent information and advice on relevant developments in the Member States. The network is managed by Human European Consultancy and the Migration Policy Group (MPG) on behalf of the European Commission. For more information, visit the project's website. 

European Commission


Ongoing PhD projects

Pauline Melin, The social security of third-country workers coming and moving in the European Union
Supervisors: Hildegard Schneider and Anne-Pieter Vander Mei
Duration: 01/01/2015 - 01/01/2018
Abstract: This research project, part of the TRANSMIC project, concerns the social security of third-country workers coming to the European Union. The aim of this project is twofold. First, it is to map the different instruments of social security coordination at international, European and national levels. Second, the aim is to find what should be change in order to make the European Union more attractive for third-country workers. In order to achieve that, the first part of the PhD will examine the different international, European and national instruments of social security coordination already available. Concerning the national instruments, the research will pay a special attention to bilateral agreements that Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium have with India and Turkey by conducting a comparative legal analysis. The second part of the project will consist in conducting case studies in order to better understand the practical difficulties that third-country workers from India and Turkey experience when coming to the European Union. Finally, the end product of the research project will propose necessary changes in the legislations- either at international, European, or national level- in order to make it more attractive for third-country nationals to come to work in the European Union.

Zvezda Vankova, The Circular migration from the Eastern partnership countries to the EU – the rights of migrant workers in Bulgaria and Poland
Supervisors: Hildegard Schneider and Maarten Vink
Duration: 01/11/2014 - 01/11/2017
Abstract: The PhD project aims to analyse the implementation of European Union’s approach to circular migration and its impact on the rights of the economically active low- and highly- skilled legal migrants from the Eastern partnership countries, ten years after the European Commission introduced this concept. Most of the literature on circular migration focuses on conceptualising the EU approach and not on its implementation on national level in the EU Member States.  It is the aim of this PhD project to fill in this gap by focusing on the transposition of the EU legal migration directives incorporating circular migration elements, as well as the effects of the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility implemented trough mobility partnerships, visa facilitation and readmission agreements with the Eastern partnership countries. By developing a comparative benchmarking framework for analysis based on international standards and soft law, the dissertation explores the potential inconsistencies created by these instruments and the consequences for the migrant workers rights. The research analyses the implementation of the circular migration approach in national legislation and policy of two new member states chosen for case studies: Bulgaria and Poland, transforming from sending through transit and receiving states for migrants mainly from Eastern partnership countries. This research project has an interdisciplinary character and employs legal and policy analysis, as well as qualitative research methods. This PhD study is part of Transnational Migration, Citizenship and the Circulation of Rights and Responsibilities (TRANSMIC), a project funded under the European Commission’s Marie Curie actions.

Matteo Bonelli, Enforcing the European Union’s Fundamental Values 
Supervisors: Monica Claes and Bruno de Witte
Duration: 01/09/2014 – 01/09/2018
Abstract: This project will analyze the role of the EU in safeguarding the fundamental values on which the Union is founded, as recognized by the Treaty on the European Union: democracy, rule of law and human rights. Recent constitutional crises in several Member States of the Union have demonstrated the legal problems the EU faces to effectively intervene in what are considered internal affairs of a state. Adopting an innovative comprehensive approach, this research project will analyze and assess the enforcement mechanisms that are currently available, and discuss whether, and if so how, a more effective monitoring and enforcement system should be introduced.

Marcus Meyer, The position of Dutch works councils in multinational corporations
Supervisors: Ferdinand Grapperhaus and Saskia Klosse
Duration: 01/11/2013 – 31/10/2017
Abstract: Due to increasing globalisation, a growing internationalisation of the Dutch economy takes place and more and more multinational corporations are present. This trend also affects the employee participation regime present in the organisations, notably the position of the works council. By means of an empirical legal research approach, a comparison between the company and labour law tools available to Dutch works councils and the application thereof in practice is made. By using quantitative and qualitative research methods, trends and best practices are identified and subsequently recommendations made in order to effectively improve the position of the Dutch works council in the globalising economy. 

Šejla Imamović, The place of national courts in the new European fundamental rights landscape
Supervisors: Monica Claes (Maastricht University) and Petra Foubert (Hasselt University)
Duration: 01/09/2013 - 31/08/2017
Abstract: The growing complexity of fundamental rights protection in the European Union (EU) is very problematic for national courts. In the present system of fundamental rights protection EU Member States (MS) have to comply with two European sets of norms which largely coincide but may diverge, and which are ultimately guarded by a different court, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). Additionally, each of the MS has its own national system of fundamental rights protection, often with its own ultimate guarantor (the constitutional court), and its own rules governing the relationship between the various sets of fundamental rights norms.
The legal relationships between the component parts of the complex system and the actors belonging to each of them are contested and still evolving. Recently, the most important catalyst for change is the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. This Treaty gives the EU a binding Charter of Fundamental Rights and obliges the EU to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights – necessitating a new conception of the relationship between the CJEU and the ECtHR. This research aims at investigating the effects this changing relationship between the two European Courts will have on national courts of the MS, and how they can rise to the challenges they will have to overcome.

Hoai-Thu Nguyen, The European Parliament and democratic legitimacy in a two-speed Europe
Supervisors: Aalt Willem Heringa and Wytze van der Woude
Duration: 01/08/2013 - 31/07/2016
Abstract: The current crisis in the Eurozone is not only a financial and monetary one; it is also a democratic one. Besides the questions of parliamentary participation in the management of the crisis, the measures adopted as a response thereto also presented a big step towards a two-speed Europe by reinforcing integration within the Euro area, to the exclusion of all the non-Euro countries. This in turn has implications for a future participation of the European Parliament as the only directly elected institution in the European Union. Is the European Parliament, as a single institution, still apt to represent the interests of citizens organized in different groups of Member States? If so, what role should it assume in such a scenario to ensure democratic legitimacy and how should it be structured? This project seeks to answer these questions and to set out criteria for the participation of the European Parliament in a future EU with a deeply integrated Eurozone by referring to EU and constitutional law as well as political science theories.

Marie-Therese Gold,  The involvement of the European Parliament and national parliaments in the Economic and Monetary Union in times of the Euro crisis
Supervisors: Bruno de Witte and Monica Claes
Duration: 01/05/2013 – 30/04/2017
Abstract: A complex mosaic of short-term emergency and long-term strategic legal and political measures has been adopted in Europe in the context of the Euro crisis. The involvement of parliaments is blurred due to this complexity. Taking into consideration the deep impact the Euro crisis has, the question how European Parliament and the national parliament have been involved in the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union will be examined by structuring the different measures and carrying out case studies on this question. A third part will draw conclusions by analysing the results in the wider context of legitimacy.

Alexander Hoogenboom, Mobility of our best and brightest: Free movement of students from an EU and comparative law perspective
Supervisors: Bruno de Witte, Hildegard Schneider and Anne-Pieter van der Mei 
Duration: 03/09/2012 – 3/09/2016 
Abstract: The purpose of the research project is to explore the tension between the promotion of the mobility of students in, and towards, the European Union on the one hand and the financial sustainability of higher education systems of the Member States of the EU on the other. Whereas student mobility is normally considered to create advantages for the student, the host and home Member State and the EU as a whole in different but interconnected ways, mobility in and towards the EU remains at a relatively low level. Moreover, the burden in terms of financing the education of these mobile students is very unevenly distributed across the EU. As such, this project seeks to contribute to the formulation of a system by which the further promotion of student mobility can be made compatible with an equitable distribution of the financial consequences thereof.

Zamira Xhaferri, Post-Lisbon Non-Legislative Rule-Making in European Union: What Role for the European Commission?
Supervisors: Ellen Vos and Anne-Pieter Van der Mei
Duration: 27/08/2012 - 24/02/2016 
Abstract: This research project analyses the role of EU executive after the changes introduced in Articles 290 and 29I TFEU, looking at the role of the European Commission, European decentralized agencies and comitology committees, as integral parts of the non-legislative rule-making process for foodstuff and financial services. This research study will further look at the differentiation criteria between the newly introduced typologies of non-legislative acts and related inter-institutional implications.

Stelios Charitakis, The Challenges and the Consequences of the Implementation of Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the EU, with a focus on Accessibility
Supervisors: Lisa Waddington (Maastricht University) and Bruno De Witte (Maastricht University)
Duration: 15/09/2011 - 15/09/2014
Abstract: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) reaffirms the paradigm shift that has been in the works in the past two decades from the medical model of disability that sees disability as a deficit in the individual to the social model of disability that aims to identify and eliminate societal restrictions that prevent inclusion. The principle of accessibility in Article 9 UNCRPD plays an essential role in eliminating those barriers. In 2010 the UNCRPD became the first human rights treaty to be ratified by the EU.
This research project aims to define accessibility and identify the nature of the obligations of Article 9 UNCRPD with regard to this principle of the Convention. It also examines the consequences of the ratification of the UNCRPD by the EU with a focus on the implementation of this Convention and it attempts to identify the competence of the EU to take actions to implement the requirements of Article 9 UNCRPD. 
Sabrina Wirtz, EU Risk Regulation and its global standards
Supervisor: Ellen Vos and Andrea Ott
Duration: 01/09/2011 - 31/08/2015
Abstract:  The European Union is increasingly relying on standards set by international entities in its risk regulation activities. Yet, global standard-setting in areas such as pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and chemicals is problematic as it takes place in rather technocratic, obscure and closed setting by regulatory and industry which hides from public scrutiny. Global standard-setting by global standard –setting entities is therefore subject to severe legitimacy concerns regarding quality and independence of the standard-setting process. The proposal will examine international standard-setting for pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and chemicals on the conceptual basis of in- and output legitimacy and compatibility. It offers a systematic analysis of these bodies and their standard-setting  as well as their impact on the EU so as to come to suggestions to improve the legitimacy of global standard-setting by international bodies.

Taotao Yue, Comparative Study on Regulation of the Sustainability of Biofuels
Supervisor: Marjan Peeters and Ellen Vos
Duration: 01/09/2011 - 31/08/2015
Abstract: Biofuels have been promoted by government, including the EU, as a ‘silver bullet’ for mitigating the problems in energy security, GHG emission, and rural development. However, increasing evidence has shown that the assumed benefits of biofuels are not promised, and the question for policy-makers is how to regulate biofuels in order to avoid their unsustainable impacts in both environmental and socio-economic dimensions. This research aims to draw implications for this question from a comparative study on regulation of the sustainability of biofuels in EU, China, and in the international framework. 

Nina Büttgen, Towards an innovative legal framework of employment protection
Supervisors: Saskia Klosse and Ferdinand Grapperhaus
Duration: 01 /07/ 2011- 31/05/2015
Abstract: Nina’s research has been structured over four years and carries the working title 'Towards an innovative legal framework for employment protection'. It deals with the question of how to improve labour law protection for workers with flexible employment contracts from a European perspective. Her analysis focuses, amongst other things, on the grey zone between law and policy on social and employment issues in the EU. The research is supervised by Prof. S. Klosse and Prof. F. B.J. Grapperhaus and financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Nina is associated with the Maastricht Center of European Law (MCEL), the Ius Commune research school and the national labour law network coordinated by the Levenbach Institute.

Anne Hardy, The EUs response to Mixed Migration movements policy making at a crossroad between Human Rights or migration management and border control
Supervisor: Hildegard Schneider
Duration: 1/9/2010 - 31/8/2014
Abstract: The research focuses on the tension arising from the European Unions obligations to respect human rights in the field of asylum on the one hand and the unions explicit efforts to manage migration and control of external borders on the other. It studies from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective the legislation, policies, programmes, and practices developed in response to mixed migration movements at the European and national level. Empirical research will scrutinize practices and interventions of national authorities and non-state actors, and point out whether the latter are able to fill protection gaps caused by national legislation and practice.

Recently completed PhD projects


Florin Coman-Kund, European Union Agencies as Global Actors. A legal Study of the European Aviation Safety Agency, Frontex and Europol
Supervisors: Ellen Vos & Andrea Ott
Defense: 20-1-2016


Thomas Biermeyer, Stakeholder protection in cross-border seat transfers in the EU; between freedom and boundaries
Supervisor : Hildegard Schneider & Mieke Olaerts
Defense: 11-11-2015

Tanja Ehnert, Regulating the Invisible: Law, Science and Accountability Concerns in the Governance of Nanotechnologies

Supervisor: Ellen Vos
Defense: 26-3-2015

Kathrin Hamenstädt, The Margin of Appreciation in European Expulsion Decisions 
Supervisor:  Hildegard Schneider
Defense: 10-7-2015

Please consult our annual reports for a complete overview of our completed PhD projects.