My main research interest is how the unique quality of the EU's law promotes or endangers the integration process. Here at UCC, I will focus on directly enforceable rights under EU law, forging a way on how the EU can move beyond mere political-institutional integration. That kind of integration has been the focus of EU law research for too long, starting with the 1980s research programme “Integration Through Law”, which highlighted how the EEC enabled integration through law, as opposed to through economic power or even war. Today, the continued success of EU integration will depend on the degree to which citizens and businesses can and do actually rely on the rights generated by the European Union.
Such research builds on my completed research projects. From September 2015 to August 2018, I led the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at Queen’s University Belfast with the funded research programm “Tensions at the Fringes of the European Union – Regaining the Union’s Purpose (TREUP”). Its four research foci organised conferences on tensions between economic, social and ecological integration, on the constitutional values informing the EU’s trade policy, on the EU’s variegated geometry mainly focusing on “Brexit” and on the different human rights regimes in Europe. From 2014 to 2015, I led a a research study for the European Parliament on EU social and labour rights under internal market law, in cooperation with colleagues from CERIC (Leeds). This project took the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the EU as a starting point, and explored how realising its social rights was impeded by EU economic freedoms and competition law. A socio-legal comparison of Ireland, Poland, Spain and Sweden was the basis of this one-year study.
The research leading up to this comparative project drew on the academic discourse conducted under my Jean Monnet ad personam Chair, with the funded project “Economic and Social Integration in the EU and Beyond – Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2011-2014)“. Returning to the basis of the European Economic Community in the 1950s, this project explored the question whether and how economic integration can trigger integrating societies. Surmising that the EU’s legal order will have to contribute to answers, it focused on the interaction of EU law with politics and society, and the EU’s contribution to enhancing global justice. The groundwork for this was laid in the “EESCATL” project (European Economic and Social Constitutionalism after the Treaty of Lisbon, 2008-2010). This projects explored the changes in EU governance in substantive constitutionalism based on three case studies: migration policy, competition and services of general interest, and corporate governance. It was conducted by the University of Leeds (lead), University of Bremen and University of Maastricht.
As regards comparative labour law and anti-discrimination law, my research focuses on industrial relations (including potential tensions with competition law) and on intersectional inequalities. In the former field, I have been consulted as expert for an OECD seminar on collective bargaining rights for own account workers. I have also convened two European Conferences on Multidimensional Equality Law” (Oldenburg 2007, Leeds 2009). An overview of all my research projects and my external collaborations and conference contributions from 2011 is attached.