Global Governance Summer School students attend RECONNECT conference on democracy and the rule of law in the European Union

LEUVEN & BRUSSELS – The morning opened with an introduction to the European Union, presented by Michal Ovadek, a research fellow at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies. An expert in the European Union legislative process, he provided an overview of the European Union architecture, and outlined the primary challenges to democracy in Europe. The session was designed to prepare students to participate fully in the rest of the day’s activities: a conference devoted to a research project aimed at reinvigorating core values of the European Union.

From left, Gamble Baffert, Charles Wells, Leila Knox, Emily Doumar, Maria Lagares Romay, Blanca Ruiz Llevot, Steven Miller, Alicia Millspaugh, and Briana Blakely.

The RECONNECT: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law project, established by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, is supported by funds from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme. As part of the larger project, the Leven Centre convened the International Conference on Democracy and the Rule of Law in the EU. It gathered experts to discuss contemporary challenges to European Union integration, including judicial independence and rule of law, free press, and democratic institutions in countries like Poland and Hungary.

The conference took place in the Brussels’ beautiful Academy Palace, and opened with a welcome by Professor Jan Wouters (left), Co-Director of the Global Governance Summer School.

The conference featured keynote remarks by Daniel Keleman, Professor of Political Science and Law and Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Politics at Rutgers University, and Koen Lenaerts, President of the Court of Justice of the European Union (right). Two policy roundtables also featured perspectives from academics and advocates from around Europe on democracy and rule of law in the European Union, respectively.

From left, Kathleen Garnett, Holly Stephens, Steven Miller, Alicia Millspaugh, Emily Snow.

Global Governance Summer School explores developments in climate change and international commerce

LEUVEN – After a full day of professional development briefings yesterday, students at the Georgia Law-Leuven Global Governance School returned to the classroom today. They took part in four lectures exploring developments in climate change and international commerce:

First, Professor Katja Biedenkopf (right), Assistant Professor at Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) at KU Leuven and an expert in European Union environmental and climate policy, addressed climate change. She focused on the international instruments at play, in particular the Paris Agreement. Professor Biedenkopf also highlighted challenges to climate change governance and encouraged students to consider international, regional, and local solutions.

Second, Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge (left), Dean of the University of Georgia School of Law, provided an introduction to international dispute resolution. He led students through a hypothetical cross-border dispute, thereby introducing the architecture of the international dispute resolution framework. He highlighted the differences between arbitration, mediation, and litigation.

Georgia Law professor Usha Rodrigues (right), provided the final two lectures of the day. A corporate governance scholar, she first provided an overview of international economic law and trade, and covered topics such as finance, international monetary policy, investment, tax, and transnational business transactions. She closed the afternoon with an exploration of comparative corporate governance, including how rules have developed across states, and how conflicts between management and shareholders or between majority and minority shareholders are resolved in different contexts.

Tomorrow, students will participate in an international conference on democracy and the rule of law in the European Union, as part of the RECONNECT project. In the meantime, they’ll spend the evening celebrating the 4th of July as expats in Belgium.

GGSS Professional development briefings in Brussels

BRUSSELS – Students taking part in the Global Governance Summer School went to Brussels today for professional development briefings. They were exposed to a range of practice areas, from non-governmental organization advocacy, to intergovernmental work, to private law practice.

The day began with a visit to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). There, students were treated to a dialogue on human rights lawyering with Ralph J. Bunche (left), UNPO General Secretary and Professor Diane Marie Amann. They discussed the work of the organization — advocating for the self-determination of unrepresented peoples and nations — and the day-to-day work of advocacy in a human rights organization.

Next, the group traveled to the new headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Steven Hill (fifth from the right, at right), Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs, took students on a tour of the facility and provided an overview of the work of the Legal Office at NATO. He particularly focused on the text of the North Atlantic Treaty, emerging technologies, and contemporary challenges to the NATO alliance.

Finally, students heard from David Hull (JD ’83) and Porter Elliot (JD ’96) (left), partners at Van Bael & Bellis about private law practice in Brussels. They discussed the practice areas of the firm – primarily European Union competition law and trade law. They shared candid career advice with students, including their personal stories of going from law school in Athens, Georgia to law practice in Brussels.

The day concluded with a reception, graciously hosted by Van Bael & Bellis. The second annual Friends of the Dean Rusk International Law Center Reception, we were pleased to reconnect with alumni/ae and other European partners of the Center.

Tomorrow, the students will return to the classroom, and celebrate the 4th of July deepening their understanding of international law.

Georgia Law trio pens Daily Report commentary on ECJ arbitration ruling

Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Dean and Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has co-authored, with 3L Katherine M. Larsen and Amanda W. Newton (JD’19), a commentary on a recent decision related to international arbitration.

Entitled “European Decision Could Have Killed Investment Treaties, Affecting Arbitration and Investments,” the commentary appeared at The Daily Report on June 28.

It discusses the content and the implications of Achmea v. Slovakia, a May 2018 decision in which the European Court of Justice ruled a clause in a bilateral investment treaty to be incompatible with European law. Both that decisions and subsequent interpretation of it in European and US courts, the authors state, leaves “more questions than answers at this point.” (Also see prior post.)

UK Consul General Andrew Staunton to speak on Brexit at Georgia Law

The Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law will welcome Consul General Andrew Staunton to campus on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. He will give a lecture, “Leaving the EU: Impact on UK-US Relations.”

Andrew Staunton Pic

Staunton is the United Kingdom’s Consul General in Atlanta. He took up the position in June 2018, after serving for four years as the Deputy Head of Mission and Economic Counselor at the British Embassy in Athens, Greece. He also served as Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Dublin from 2009 to 2013. His time in Greece and Ireland coincided with critical points in each countries respective economies.

A career diplomat since 1987, Staunton has also held posts in China, France, Romania and Canada.

This event is presented as part of the Dean Rusk International Law Center’s Consular Series, which brings to campus perspectives on international trade, development, policy, and cooperation during the 2018-2019 academic year. The Consular Series is co-sponsored by the International Law Society, Georgia Law’s chapter of the International Law Students Association.

This installment of the Series coincides with the Center’s long-standing tradition of celebrating the birthday of another career diplomat – former Secretary of State and our Center’s namesake, Dean Rusk. In honor of Dean Rusk’s 110th birthday, lunch and celebratory cupcakes will be served.

Details here.

Georgia Law Professor Kent Barnett compares administrative law approaches at conference in Poland


Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Kent Barnett, J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law. Professor Barnett concentrates his teaching and scholarship in the areas of contracts law, consumer law, and administrative law—including comparative approaches. He contributes the post below on his recent collaboration with European counterparts on the panel above, at a conference in Poland.

In what may come as a surprise for many American administrative law scholars, the world extends beyond Washington, D.C.

These scholars rarely consider comparative approaches to administrative law or debates in other legal systems. Perhaps they can be forgiven because of the ever-increasing complexity of domestic administrative law. But as conservative and liberal political and judicial factions contest an increasing number of longstanding tenants of domestic administrative law, comparative inquires may prove more useful and timely than ever.

I confirmed this intuition recently, when I accepted an invitation to participate in a conference concerning “Judicial Deference in Competition Law,” sponsored by the Centre for Antitrust and Regulatory Studies at the University of Warsaw this month. Taking part in a panel that considered general aspects of deference law, I discussed my research into the theoretical and doctrinal foundations of how American courts defer to administrative agencies’ determinations. My co-panelists—Drs. Mira Scholten and Rob Widdershoven, both professors at the Netherlands’ University of Utrecht—discussed deference in European Union courts or theoretical models for understanding deference in most legal systems.

Most of the legal models (whether of the EU, national European courts, or U.S. courts) follow similar paths when approaching how and whether to defer to agencies. In many instances, the terminology differs or the boundaries for similar doctrines may vary slightly. But in the main, these disparate legal systems have largely reached consensus on certain matters: deference to factual findings for technical matters and deference to discretionary decisions.

But my interactions with scholars in Poland confirmed that the European model has some striking differences from the American system—differences that inform two current debates:

► One difference, as numerous panelists mentioned during the conference, is that European models distinguish between civil and “criminal” punishments. “Criminal” matters are significant agency actions, such as large fines, which require significantly more judicial oversight. American law, in contrast, does not meaningfully distinguish between insignificant and significant agency actions against regulated parties. Perhaps doing so, however, would assuage growing concerns over U.S. regulatory agencies’ ability to fine regulated parties or deprive them of necessary business licenses, especially when regulated firms demonstrate good faith attempts at regulatory compliance.

► A second difference is that European courts do not defer to agencies’ interpretations of law. American courts, on the other hand, defer under the well-known Chevron doctrine to agencies’ reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions. The European experience suggests that whatever Chevron’s constitutional or statutory demerits, deference to agency legal interpretations is not inevitable. Instead, it is a chosen policy or jurisprudential choice whose benefits or demerits support or cut against it.

In short, the conference represents but the beginning of comparative conversations that U.S. administrative scholars can and should have to inform debates about domestic administrative law.

Global Governance Summer School students at high-level conference on project aiming to RECONNECT Europe

Yesterday’s sessions of our Georgia Law-Leuven Centre Global Governance Summer School were devoted to a new, 4-year research project aimed at reinvigorating core values of the European Union.

Called RECONNECT: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law and supported by funds from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme, the project has just been established by KU Leuven’s Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and 17 partner institutions.

Our summer school’s morning began at a classroom in Leuven, where Michal Ovádek (left), a Leuven Centre PhD candidate and research fellow,  provided an introduction to the structure of, and contemporary challenges, to European Union integration. Among them are the efforts of recently elected governments to undermine judicial independence, free press, and other democratic institutions in Poland and Hungary, as well as the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which a slight majority in the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.

We then traveled to Brussels’ neoclassical Academy Palace, home to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts and the site of an afternoon conference launching the RECONNECT project.

Leuven Law Professor Jan Wouters, whose many titles include Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and Co-Director of our summer school, opened the conference (top photo). Stating that “the EU and its members are confronted with an existential crisis,” Wouters explained how “RECONNECT will intervene in the public discourse, to build a new narrative for Europe.” The EU can “regain authority and legitimacy through democracy and the rule of law,” he said, “provided citizens’ views taken into account.”

Delivering keynotes were H.E. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs & European Affairs – who urged, as a way to reconnect, emphasizing that the EU is not just an economic project, but also based on values and principles – and Dr. Adam Bodnar, Ombudsman of the Republic of Poland.

Two policy roundtables followed:

► “Strengthening Democracy in the European Union,” chaired by Julie Smith and featuring Alberto Alemanno, Richard Youngs, Zselyke Csaky, Vivien Schmidt, Carlos Closa Montero, and Amichai Magen.

► “Addressing Rule of Law Challenges in the EU,” chaired by Laurent Pech and including Tamas Lukacsi, Philip Bittner, Peter Claes, Lotte Leicht, Petra Bárd, and Dimitry Kochenov.

Many speakers revisited developments in countries like Hungary, Poland, and post-Brexit UK, touching on issues ranging from freedom of speech to social media, economic anxiety and political processes. Europe’s responses to global migration both within and outside its borders, was another topic frequently mentioned.

In a particularly moving presentation, Lotte Leicht (3d from right), EU Director for Human Rights Watch, told of seeing, at a middle school where she recently spoke, signs saying “Be Kind” and “Treat One Another as You Want to Be Treated.” Commenting that youths “get it,” she proceeded to outline problems and to welcome innovative solutions.  Yet Leicht cautioned against adopting perceived solutions that would have negative effects:

“It is a redline when we start undermining the rule of law and our obligations under international law.”

Our stay in Leuven concludes tomorrow, after sessions on related to human rights and security governance – and, fittingly, after tomorrow night’s World Cup contest between Belgium and Brazil.