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Successful EUROPAL seminar on ‘Democratic Backsliding & Rule of Law Reforms in Europe’

Date of news: 10 January 2018

On Wednesday 13 December 2017, EUROPAL (the interdisciplinary research group on Europeanisation of Policy and Law) organised a successful Expert Seminar on ‘Democratic Backsliding & Rule of Law Reforms in Europe’.

The ‘closed shop’ event took place at the ‘Huize Heyendael’ on the campus of Radboud University. It brought together a selection of renowned international scholars from different backgrounds, spanning law, political science, international relations and public administration. It included inter alia Prof. Daniel Kelemen (Rutgers University), Prof. Frank Schimmelfennig (ETH Zurich), Dr. Ulrich Sedelmeier (London School of Economics), Prof. Marcin Matczak (University of Warsaw) and Prof. Oliver Treib (University of Münster). The seminar was convened by Dr. Asya Zhelyazkova, Dr. Maurits Meijers, Prof. Ellen Mastenbroek, Dr. Jasper Krommendijk and Prof. Henri de Waele, who also chaired the various panel rounds.

The main focus of the sessions lay on the implementation of rule of law reforms in both current and aspiring European Union member states. The participants hereby broadly addressed the following questions:

  • What factors explain the occurrence of democratic backsliding in the EU and in candidate states? Why do some member states renege on their commitments to adhere to rule of law principles?
  • To what extent is the EU capable of instigating successful rule of law reforms in candidate countries, and preventing backsliding in its member states?

Moving beyond existing research, many of the talks offered new insight into the causes of democratic backsliding in Europe, as well as the instruments international organisations can use to counteract the deterioration of democratic standards in EU member states. One of the speakers shares his experiences and provisional conclusions in this blog post.

Group picture - EUROPAL Expert Seminar 13 December 2017