Events Calendar

Tuesday 21 November 2017 09:00 - 17:00
  • EC

Legal Pluralism and the European Union: Then and Now

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Constitutional pluralism has been one of the most discussed and exciting additions to constitutional thinking about the European Union. However, in the decade or two since it became mainstream the constitutional politics of the European Union has changed. Issues of fragmentation and competition for authority and normative dominance are no longer confined to the dialogue between highest courts – although they continue there too.

This conference is based around the forthcoming Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU law (Edward Elgar, 2018) and takes legal pluralism as a wider feature of the EU that is sometimes challenging, sometimes enriching, and always deserving of study. Speakers will revisit the classical issue of unresolved constitutional authority in the light of recent cases and theoretical developments, and post-Brexit, but they will also explore pluralism within EU policies, questioning from a factual and normative perspective the space allowed by EU law for diverging visions of integration.

The spealers will also consider the challenges raised by ‘illiberal democracy’, whose proponents attempt to use pluralism as a weapon to defend their domestic politics from EU interference, they will take a step back to look at the historical and sociological roots of legal pluralism in Europe, and they will question the very pluralist idea, and the sometimes contradictory politics that it entails. In his epilogue to the book, entitled ‘Pluralism: Then and Now’, Neil Walker speaks of the value of taking research into pluralism beyond its original confines in order to respond to the changing circumstance of European integration, and that is the goal that this day of discussion will pursue.

Confirmed speakers include:

Matej Avbelj, School of Government and European Studies, Slovenia – Human dignity and EU legal pluralism

Nik de Boer, University of Amsterdam – the false promise of legal pluralism

Gareth Davies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam – Interpretative pluralism within EU law

Pavlos Eleftheriadis, University of Oxford – Pluralism, Brexit, and the relationship of EU law to international law

Tom Flynn, University of Warwick – Consequences of constitutional pluralism for domestic constitutional thought

Matthias Goldman, Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg – Operationalising constitutional pluralism in EMU

Poul Kjaer, Copenhagen Business School – Legal pluralism from Church and Empire to State and EU

Jessica Lawrence, Central European University – Politics, pluralism and governmentality

Lissa Lippavirta, University of Helsinki – Pluralism in EU External Relations

Peter Lindseth, University of Connecticut School of Law – Legitimate compulsory mobilization and the limits of EU legal pluralism

Giuseppe Martinico, Scuola Universitaria di Sant’Anna – Constitutional conflicts and agonistic pluralism

Cormac Mac Amhlaigh, University of Edinburgh – Does legal theory have a pluralism problem? 

Jiri Priban, University of Cardiff – The sociological concept of EU constitutional pluralism

Suvi Sankari, University of Helsinki – Constitutional Pluralism and judicial adjudication


Attendance is free. To register, or for further information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Image by Ain92 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


VU Main building, Aurora room