Sussex European Institute

News and Events

The European Law and Policy Research Group organises and participates in a range of events and provides expert advice to various projects and committees, often in collaboration with colleagues from external institutions.

Seminars and workshops 

Autumn 2020 Research Seminars

Preventing Adverse Impacts of Trade Agreements on Labour Standards: How effective is the EU's Approach? 8th December

On 8 December 2020 Franz Ebert gave a talk entitled:

'Preventing Adverse Impacts of Trade Agreements on Labour Standards: How Effective is the EU’s Approach?'


The EU’s trade policy is prone to controversy. While the EU claims that its trade policy contributes to sustainable development, several EU trade agreements have been criticized for having negative social and environmental impacts and weakening standards set by domestic legislation. In order to address such concerns, the EU has adopted a number of strategies. These include conducting “Sustainability Impact Assessments” prior to the agreements’ adoption, negotiating chapters on “Trade and Sustainable Development”, and inserting exception clauses into the agreements’ economic chapters. This lecture sheds light on the effectiveness of such arrangements by assessing their potential for preventing adverse impacts on labour standards. First, the lecture provides an overview of possible risks that trade agreements pose for domestic labour standards. Next, it analyses the EU’s strategies to mitigate these risks and argues that, as they currently stand, they are not effective in safeguarding labour standards. In this light, the final part of the lecture reflects on possibilities for a more robust approach to worker protection in the EU’s trade agreements.


Franz Christian Ebert, LLM (Utrecht), is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany. At the Institute, he manages a research project on the interactions between international economic law and Latin American constitutional law and conducts research on the implications of global economic governance for human and labour rights. Previously, Franz worked as a research officer at the International Labour Organization and was a visiting professional at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He has advised several international organizations, governments, and civil society organizations and has appeared before committees of the European Parliament and the German Parliament. He is the main author of the ILO study “Social Dimensions in Free Trade Agreements” (Geneva 2013) and has published in journals including the Leiden International Law Journal, the World Trade Review, the Human Rights Law Review, and the International Labour Review.

Article 15 derogations: are they necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic? 28th October

On 28 October Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou gave a talk entitled:

Article 15 derogations: are they really necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The presentation was based on an article with the same title published in the European Convention on Human Rights Law Review (E.H.R.L.R. 2020, 4, 359-371).

Further information is available here


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a few human rights academics argued that human rights can be better protected if the governments derogate from international human rights mechanisms during the pandemic. In doing so, these governments clearly separate the regime of emergency from normalcy and hence they limit in time the measures they adopt to fight the pandemic. Article 15 allows such derogations from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In this short contribution I question the fundamentals of this argument. First, the quarantining effect of derogations is often proven by references to military emergencies. I argue that health emergencies are substantively different from the military ones and it is incorrect to draw direct parallels between them. Secondly, I argue that human rights enshrined in the ECHR have a "natural quarantining effect" and Article 15 derogations are unable to change the Court’s approach to human rights during the pandemic significantly.

About the speaker

Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou is Professor in Human Rights Law and Director of the International Law and Human Rights Unit, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool; he is also Editor-in-chief of the European Convention on Human Rights Law Review

Spring 2019 research seminars

Distributed Responsibility and Refugees, 8th May 2019

On 8 May 2019 the ELPRG hosted a research seminar delivered by Dr Sonia Morano-Foadi (Reader in European Law and Director of the Centre for Legal Research and Policy Study at the School of Law of Oxford Brookes University) and Dr Clara Della Croce (Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and an Associate Lecturer and Knowledge Exchange Fellow at Oxford Brookes University) on ‘Distributed Responsibility and Refugees’ Integration into the Labour Market in the UK’. Using a socio-legal and contextual approach Dr Morano-Foadi and Dr Della Croce examined the extent to which current market integration measures and policies work in relation to newly recognised and newly resettled refugees in the UK. Preliminary findings of their research (the LAMINER project) showed that devolved mechanisms adopted in relation to ‘resettled’ refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and ‘recognised’ refugees exhibit a number of limitations and, at times, exclusion from employment rather than helping refugees integrate into the UK labour market.

Brexit and Gender, 22nd May 2019

On 22 May 2019 Roberta Guerrina, Professor of Politics at the University of Bristol and co-founder of the UACES funded collaborative research network "Gendering EU Studies", gave a talk on ‘Brexit and Gender’ in which she examined the portrayal in the media of the role of women and the (mis)representation of their interests during the Leavers’ campaign preceding the 2016 Brexit referendum. The talk showed how the overwhelming focus on trade-related matters in the Brexit debate and negotiations has marginalised further the debate on gender issues in the UK.

Previous Seminars: 

In Autumn 2018 the European Law and Policy Research Group hosted three research seminars:

Transnational Figurations of Displacement (TRAFIG) - Connectivity and Mobility as Solutions to Protracted Refugee Situations, 8th November 2018

The first seminar, which was held on 8 November, was given by Professor Nuno Ferreira and Dr Laura Morosanu, from Sussex School of Law, Politics and Sociology. The talk was entitled Transnational Figurations of Displacement (TRAFIG) - Connectivity and Mobility as Solutions to Protracted Refugee Situations. The talk focused on a major collaborative research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme – TRAFIG- starting in January 2019. The TRAFIG project intends to introduce a novel perspective on protracted displacement situations (PDS) that will improve the protection and resilience of refugees and enhance trust and cooperation between refugees and host communities. To this end, the project aims at developing a rapid assessment tool to identify the most vulnerable groups in PDS and to analyse interactions between displaced and host communities. As an evidence-based tool for creating impact, it will support policymakers and practitioners to enhance the self-reliance of displaced people as well as host-refugees relations through tailored programming and policy development. The project will be based on comparative empirical research, both qualitative and quantitative, in camps and urban settings at sites in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The EU's 'Embodied Border' Model and Its (Everlasting) 'Refugee Crisis', 16th November 2018

The second seminar, held on 16 November, was given by Dr Violeta Moreno Lax, from the School of Law, Queen Mary University. Her talk was entitled The EU's 'Embodied Border' Model and Its (Everlasting) 'Refugee Crisis' and focused on the findings of her latest monograph Accessing Asylum in Europe Extraterritorial Border Controls and Refugee Rights under EU Law (OUP, 2017),

Her talk examined the European Union (EU)’s increased reliance on extraordinary, ‘emergency’ measures further to what has been defined as an ongoing ‘migration crisis’, which has normalized the current sense of urgency and exceptionalism that characterises much of the EU migration and asylum policy today. Offshored border checks, outsourced visa processing, privatised pre-boarding controls, and maritime interdiction ‘by proxy’ are - as this session discussed- but a few of the mechanisms in which the external frontier of the Union manifests itself to potential refugees. Dr Moreno Lax explained how, in spite of the fact that the rights to asylum and to non-refoulement have gained uncontested legal strength as a matter of (internal) EU law since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, there has not yet been a significant departure from a migration governance based on securitization across EU member states. The analysis focused on three key measures impeding access to asylum in Europe, namely, visas, carrier sanctions, and maritime patrols and their intersection with the rights to non-refoulement, asylum, and effective judicial protection (Arts 18, 19, and 47 CFR). The talk concluded with a proposal for an alternative design of the Union’s border control machinery.

Brexit and the United Kingdom UK Parliament

The third seminar was given by Professor Adam Cygan, from the School of Law of the University of Leicester. The talk, entitled Brexit and the United Kingdom UK Parliament, focused on the legal aspects of the latest developments concerning the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. In particular, his talk focused on Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research carried out with Professor Richard Whitman, from the School of Politics and International Relations of the University of Kent. The talk centred on the role of the UK Parliament and, specifically, its legislative powers and relationship with the UK Government amid significant economic and political instability since the 2016 UK EU membership referendum. Professor Cygan examined, among others, the challenges that Parliament has faced to date and the constitutional changes that have been enacted to ensure that the UK leaves the EU in an orderly manner.  

The National versus the Foreigner: Diego Acosta Arcarazo - Leading International and European Law expert in migration- discusses his latest book

Book cover - The National vs the ForeignerThe National versus the Foreigner in South America - 200 Years of Migration and Citizenship Law

On 13 June 2018 Dr Diego Acosta Arcarazo presented his latest book entitled 'The National versus the Foreigner in South  America. 200 Years of Migration and Citizenship Law

At a time when restrictive choices are becoming increasingly predominant around the world, South American policy makers present their discourse as being both an innovative and exceptional ‘new paradigm’ and part of a morally superior, avant-garde path in policy making. In his book Dr Diego Acosta provides a critical examination of the South American legal framework through a historical and comparative analysis. He uses this analysis to assess whether the laws are truly innovative and exceptional, as well as evaluating their feasibility, strengths and weaknesses. By analysing the legal construction of the national and the foreigner in ten South American countries during the last two centuries, he demonstrates how different citizenship and migration laws have functioned, as well as showing why states have opted for certain regulation choices and the consequences of these choices for state and nation building in the continent.

The discussion that followed also explored post-colonialist perspectives and how they help to explain certain dynamics in migration policies in South America.

Dr Diego Acosta is a leading international expert on European and international migration law. He is currently a Reader in European and Migration Law, from the University of Bristol Law School. His work discusses Migration law as a central aspect of globalisation and analyses various processes of inclusion and exclusion and their profound implications for the rule of law in Europe, South America and elsewhere. He is the author of more than 40 publications. He also currently participates as co-investigator in the project Prospects for International Migration Governance (MIGPROSP) which the ERC has funded with 2.1 million euros for the period 2014-2019. He has also been one of the authors of the proposal for a Model International Mobility Convention led by Columbia University in New York.

Dr Acosta has provided consultancy for various governments, international organisations, law firms, political parties and NGOs in Europe, Latin America and Africa. He produced the written observations for the applicant submitted to the European Court of Justice in the recent case C-636/16 López Pastuzano. This was a case on the Long-Term Residence Directive and the Court of Justice ruled in favour of the applicant. He is regularly invited to present his work in some of the most prestigious universities around the globe and has been visiting researcher at several institutions including the University of New York (NYU) and the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. He has been interviewed by media outlets in the USA, UK, Spain, Russia, Brazil or Ecuador, among others.

Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Brexit, 17 November 2017

Sussex Law School hosted a one-day interdisciplinary workshop organised by Moira Dustin, Nuno Ferreira and Sue Millns, and sponsored by the Sussex European Institute.

The workshop is part of a broader research project which seeks to examine the opportunities and challenges, the rights and wrongs, and the prospects and risks of the Brexit debate from a particular perspective - that of gender and sexuality.

While much has been written about Brexit from legal, political and economic perspectives, there has as yet been relatively little debate about Brexit from a gendered and queer point of view and little analysis of the effects of Brexit on and gender/sexual minorities who have historically been more marginalised and whose voices have tended to be less audible in political debates - both nationally and at the European level.

More information

Find out more about the Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Brexit project.

State of EU Human Rights, 15 November 2017

This session explored certain aspects of the internal and external dimension of the state of EU human rights, in light of the changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon with regard to the global role of the EU and Opinion 2/13, where the Court of Justice of the EU held that the EU could not accede to the European Convention of Human Rights under the draft agreement.


Dr Carmelo Danisi (Sussex Law School) gave a presentation entitled 'From the bench to the ground: Western Sahara, human rights and the EU'.

Dr Danisi discussed how the Western Sahara case is a long history of human rights violations which originated from the denial of the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination. While most of the Sahrawi people are still forced to live as de facto refugees in camps located in the Algerian desert, a number of actors (e.g. Spain, Morocco, the United Nations and the EU) are unable to break the enduring deadlock in the peace process.

Against this background and on the basis of empirical research carried out in the Sahrawi camps, the talk analysed the situation on the ground and the human rights implications of the current state of affairs, the developments of the EU's indirect involvement in the Western Sahara case, and the various initiatives launched jointly by academics, non-governmental organisations and international institutions to support the Sahrawi people in their battle for the full respect of international law.

Dr Tawhida Ahmed (City Law School) gave a presentation entitled 'Brexit and the EU's project of 'inclusion''.

Dr Ahmed showed how the UK has displayed, since the very early years of its EU membership, a relationship of tension with the EU, and explained how the content of those tensions has witnessed a major shift in the last few years.

Debates surrounding the UK's EU membership in the 1970s were dominated by concerns of parliamentary sovereignty and economic policy. Although these concerns remained very much alive within the context of Brexit, Dr Ahmed highlighted how these were eclipsed by increasingly vivid anti-immigration sentiments (sentiments which are not, of course, confined to the UK). This focus on anti-immigration indicates a failure in the European project of an inclusive, united Europe, and furthermore raises questions relating to the methods for futhering such a vision.

The presentation looked at this particular facet of the EU human rights crisis and explored the role (and limitations) of law in securing a more successful outcome from a human rights perspective. 

Extraterritoriality of EU Law and Human Rights After Lisbon: Scope and Boundaries, 13-14 July 2017

The Sussex European Institute hosted a research workshop organised by Dr Samantha Velluti (Sussex Law School) and Dr Vassilis Tzevelekos (Liverpool Law School).

The workshop was one of the first of its kind to explore the extraterritoriality of EU law in a comprehensive and cross-sectoral manner.

More information

Detailed information about the event is included in the workshop's programme.

European Law and Policy Research Group Seminar, 10 May 2017

Dr Samantha Currie (Liverpool Law School) gave a presentation on her latest empirical findings concerning the nexus between anti-trafficking/modern slavery policies and immigration policy/enforcement and the implications of Brexit.

Recent news

Dr velluti participates in the UK Trade Bites podcast on 'Trade with a conscience: human rights monitoring in international trade agreements'

On 4 March 2021, Dr Velluti participated in one of the UK Trade Observatory Trade Bites podcasts on ‘Trade with a conscience: human rights monitoring in international trade agreements’, together with Dr Mattia Di Ubaldo, Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Dr Jennifer Zerk, Associate Fellow at Chatham House.

Listen here

Dr Samantha Velluti participated in a talk about the EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was adopted on Christmas Eve on BBC Radio Sussex, 25th December

On 25 December 2020, Dr Samantha Velluti participated in the BBC Radio Sussex Breakfast programme (also broadcasted on BBC Radio Surrey) to talk about the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was adopted on Christmas Eve.

The post-Brexit trade deal, which avoids a 'cliff edge' on 1 January 2021 and brings some needed clarity, is the result of compromise between both sides and was largely welcomed by business groups. Dr Velluti explained how many sectors of the economy remain outside of the agreement, financial services (and the service economy generally) being a case in point, and further arrangements will need to be made in the future. It remains to be seen what the long-term EU-UK relations will ultimately be.

Dr Samantha Velluti discusses latest developments in the Brexit negotiations on BBC Radio Sussex, 14th December

Dr Samantha Velluti discusses latest developments in the Brexit negotiations on BBC Radio Sussex

On 14 December 2020, Dr Velluti participated in the BBC Radio Sussex Breakfast programme to talk about the latest developments in the Brexit negotiations as the transition period comes to an end. Dr Velluti examined the thorny issues of fishing rights and the so-called 'level playing field' requirement as well as the impact of of a no-deal on businesses and people's livelihood. Dr Velluti warned that -whatever the outcome- the UK was heading towards a hard Brexit.

New book by Dr Velluti published

A new book by Dr Velluti (with contributions from Dr Martines, University of Pisa, Italy) entitled The role of the EU in the promotion of human rights and international labour standards in its external relations has been published by Springer (October 2020). The book represents a significant and timely contribution to the copious literature of the EU as a global actor providing new insights and fresh perspectives into the promotion of human rights and international labour standards in the EU’s external trade relations, building on and stimulating further – the already well-engaged – scientific dialogue on this area of research.

Dr Velluti gives a guest lecture on human rights and EU external relations at the School of Law, University of Rome, Italy 

Samantha Velluti was invited by Prof. Luigi Daniele (Professor of EU law, University of Rome Tor Vergata) to give a guest lecture to doctoral students of the School of Law of the University of Rome, as part of the Public Law Doctoral Symposium (21 May 2020). The talk focused on the EU’s promotion of human rights in its external trade relations with non-EU countries and examined how human rights have become a horizontal issue in EU External Relations.

Two of our research students successfully completed their Ph.D.

Anne Wesemann successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘Constitutional rights norms in the European Union legal framework: an analysis of European Union citizenship as a constitutional right’ (Supervisors: Professor Nuno Ferreira and Dr Tarik Kochi, Sussex School of Law; September 2018)

David Davies successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled ‘Regulating Gender Stereotypes in Advertising: a Socio-Legal Analysis’ (Supervisors: Professor Sue Millns, School of Law, and Professor Susie Scott, Sussex School of Sociology; November 2018).

The ELPRG welcomes two new research students

Anna Gumucio Ramberg

Cecilia Manzotti: Her PhD thesis intends to investigate the broader issues of nationality determination and statelessness identification among asylum seekers and refugees in Europe. More specifically, the project will look at how asylum seekers and refugees’ nationality or lack thereof is determined in selected European States, whether in the asylum process, through Stateless Determination Procedures or other procedures. Her supervisors are: Professor Nuno Ferreira and Dr Samantha Velluti.


The international collaborative research project TRAFIG on forced displacement, of which Professor Nuno Ferreira is part of, was launched in January 2019 (, further information can be found here:

Dr Velluti discusses Brexit impact at BBC Radio Sussex

On 22 March 2019 Dr Samantha Velluti participated in BBC Radio Sussex Danny Pike’s morning programme on the impact and implications of Brexit on local business, healthcare and citizenship rights, together with their political reporter Ben Weiss. Dr Velluti answered questions from the public addressing their worries and concerns about Brexit. The programme was also broadcast on BBC Radio Surrey. Dr Velluti’s analysis of a no deal scenario, a “hard” Brexit was subsequently cited in BBC Radio Sussex News Bulletin at 10am on 27 March 2019. 

New publications by Dr Carmelo Danisi

- Immigration Control and the Best Interests of the Child in Europe, in Protecting Migrant Children: In Search of Best Practices, edited by M. Crock and L. Benson, Elgar, 2018, 136-162 (with Mary Crock)

- Promoting Human Rights Through the EU External Action: An Empty “Vessel” for Sexual Minorities?, in European Foreign Affairs Review, no. 3, 2017, pp. 341–356.

Dr Samantha Velluti considers a new plan to set up EU controlled centres for migrants arriving in Europe in a new blog written in The Conversation

Read the full article - New migrant processing centres in EU 'hotspots' in Greece and Italy

Professor Szyszczak's Key Role in Training of National Judges in EU Law

Professor Szyszczak has held two ESRC impact research grants to develop the impact of her research on the training of judges in EU Competition law.  She gave papers in Barcelona in March 2017 and in Dublin in July 2017. With co-authors she has produced a training manual for the European Judicial Training Network:

Boyd, Michael, Petralikova, Denisa, Samaniego Fernandez, Eva, Szyszczak, Erika, Motu, Flavius and Veglia, Arlette (2018) [Handbook] The language of competition law. EJTN, Brussels, Belgium.

This will be used for future training of national judges, the next annual training session taking place in Vienna in October 2018.

A further ESRC grant has been used to develop training for NGO, civil servants and judges in Ukraine.

In April 2018 Professor Szyszczak gave a lecture tour in Kiev, Odessa and Lviv. 

Recent Publications

The Brexit debate: key contributions by Professor Erika Szysczak

Professor Erika Szyszczak is a Fellow of UKTPO at the University of Sussex.

Over the last year she has been immersed in legal and political trade and competition issues raised by Brexit and has been advising politicians, government departments  and journalists. Her research has been quoted in The Times and the Financial Times. 

From September 2017 to February 2018 she acted as a Special Adviser to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee Inquiry: Brexit: Competition and State Aid. The Report is published on the British Parliament website

Professor Szyszczak has also undertaken training on EU State aid law and policy for the NAO and took part in a Brexit Forum on Challenges and Opportunities for Trade in the Midlands at the University of Leicester on 14 March 2018. 

Recent Publications on Brexit: 

Recent publications by Professor Erika Szyszczak
New publication by Dr Kawala Dawar on Reforming and Renegotiating the EU-Turkey Customs Union

Dr Kawala Dawar co-authored an article (with Dr. Christopher Hartwell and Professor Subey Dogan) entitled 'Reforming and Renegotiating the EU-Turkey Customs Union' which came out on 1 June and was published in the Spring edition of the Turkish Political Quarterly.

This article proposes that the EU-Turkey Customs Union (CU) should be modernized and modified to take into account the various growing criticisms of the CU, and that economic integration between the EU and Turkey should be further strengthened by signing a complementary Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Turkey covering agriculture, food safety, animal and plant health (SPS) measures, services, government procurement, investment, dispute settlement, and sustainable development.

Dr Samantha Velluti discusses human rights and rule of law challenges of EU externalization arrangements in migration and asylum at the EUIA 2018 Conference on Protecting and Projecting Europe

Samantha Velluti recently presented a paper at the European Union in International Affairs VI – Protecting and Projecting Europe (#EUIA18), held in Brussels, Belgium, on 16-18 May 2018.

This biennial conference is organized by The Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (IES-VUB), the Institut d’Études Européennes at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (IEE-ULB), the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) and Egmont – the Royal Institute for International Relations.

The paper, entitled “The External Dimension of EU Asylum and Immigration Policy - “New” Ways to Address “Old” Woes?”, was presented as part of a panel of selected speakers from Universities across Europe examining The External Dimension of the EU Migration Policy and its Challenges to the Rule of Law.  The paper looked at key measures adopted in the context of the evolving European Union (EU) external migration and asylum law and policy such as resettlement, regional protection programmes and readmission agreements, as part of the EU’s response to the ongoing migration crisis. In recent years we have been witnessing a growing focus on migration management and control with a parallel rise of unorthodox or ad hoc institutional and policy developments, both at EU and national levels, as a pragmatic rather than a legal response to address the formidable challenges posed by the mass movement of refugees and forced displacement of migrants. The paper critically assessed the human rights impact of these measures and broader rule of law and accountability questions in the context of the highly fragmented legal framework of the EU’s Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and put forward several recommendations to inject a human rights dimension into these measures, thereby addressing their extant rule of law limitations.
SOGICA project research activities update - May 2018

A flurry of activity has been taking place in the context of the SOGICA project, which concentrates on claims of asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and is led by Professor Nuno Ferreira.

In January, Nuno was interviewed on Newshour – BBC World Service on the Court of Justice of the EU’s judgment in the F case regarding evidence standards in sexual orientation asylum cases (18’25”).

Nuno has also published a review essay on ‘Sexuality and citizenship in Europe: socio-legal and human rights perspectives’ (2018 Social & Legal Studies, Vol. 27(2), 253–265), which uses SOGI asylum as a case study.

More recently, Nuno also taught Roma Tre University students as a Visiting Professor about SOGI asylum claims.

Finally, Dr Carmelo Danisi is organising a conference on Vulnerability and Asylum: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims’ in Forlì, Italy, in cooperation with the Department of Political and Social Science of the University of Bologna. You can still register to attend the conference by emailing Carmelo on

Dr Samantha Velluti acts as Lead Scientific Advisor for HEC/NYU EU Public Interest Clinic - April 2018

Ready-made-garment industry, BangladeshDr Samantha Velluti acted as Lead Scientific Advisor for a project of the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC)/New York University (NYU) European Union Public Interest Clinic to help the Clean Clothes Campaign, a global alliance bringing together trade unions and non-governmental organisations and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to file a complaint with the EU Ombudsman for a case of alleged maladministration concerning the European Commission's failure to launch an investigation into the status of Bangladesh under the Generalised System of Trade Preferences Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 978/2012).

The ready-made-garment industry accounts for a large majority of Bangladesh's total merchandise exports, employing millions of workers. The EU is its main trading partner.

Bangladesh is a beneficiary country of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market for all export products except for arms and ammunition to countries that classify as a United Nations least developed country. The EBA is the most favourable regime under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), an EU trade agreement through which the EU provides preferential access to the EU market to a number of developing countries and territories, in the form of reduced tariffs for their goods when entering the EU market. One of its main goals is to promote sustainable development in beneficiary countries, thus requiring them to ensure International Labour Organisation Core Labour Standards and to respect certain human rights.

The ready-made-garment industry in Bangladesh was hit by several fatal industrial accidents, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013, and there is strong evidence showing how Bangladesh has committed serious and systematic violations of fundamental workers’ rights. Working conditions are unsafe for millions of workers and the laws of the country hinder unionisation. Without bargaining power or legal recourse, workers in Bangladesh have been forced to live in extreme poverty. The GSP has a system of human rights conditionality in place that makes access to benefits dependent on the respect for human rights, failing which it foresees the temporary withdrawal of beneficiary status. The European Commission has discretion to initiate and how to proceed with the entire process. The European Commission has sent letters urging Bangladesh to improve working conditions. However, in spite of the government of Bangladesh’s failure to improve fundamental workers’ rights protection, the European Commission has not launched a formal investigation concerning Bangladesh’s GSP status.

As argued in the complaint, the discretion afforded to the Commission under the provisions of the GSP regulation is not unfettered. The Commission is bound to respect the EU’s human rights obligations, legal rules and principles. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides that the EU is founded on respect for human rights, which has also become a requirement of the lawfulness of European acts. In addition, Article 21 TEU and Article 207 Treaty on the Functioning of the EU make it unequivocally clear that this requirement extends to the EU’s external action, including the field of commercial policy. Moreover, the Commission’s failure to create a transparent and objective process for deciding whether to investigate a beneficiary country also constitutes maladministration as it is not in line with EU rules related to good administration as enshrined in Article 41 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, confirmed by the Court of Justice of the European Union and further set out in the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour.

Extraterritoriality of EU Law: A Boon or a Threat to Human Rights? - July 2017

Dr Elaine FaheyOn 13 and 14 July 2017, the Sussex European Institute hosted a two-day workshop on The Extraterritoriality of EU Law and Human Rights after Lisbon: Scope and Boundaries, co-organised by Dr Samantha Velluti (Sussex Law School) and Dr Vassilis Tzevelekos (Liverpool Law School).

The event brought together scholars and practitioners from the UK and Europe to explore the extraterritorial effects that EU law produces and the impact of the EU’s extraterritorial conduct on human rights in light of the changes introduced by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon.

Such changes have made it unequivocally clear that the EU intends to have a significant role outside its borders, not only in relation to the external dimension of the Single Market, but also – and not without controversy – in relation to normative objectives of global justice such as human rights.

On the first day of the workshop, Joanne Scott (European University Institute) gave the opening keynote speech. Professor Scott discussed the extraterritoriality and territorial extension in EU law, with a focus on the unilateral mechanisms that the EU deploys to extend the global reach of its laws, drawing from an array of legislative acts across different areas of EU law.

The lecture was then followed by a panel discussion which examined the theoretical dimensions of extraterritoriality. This was done from the perspective of both the EU legal order and international law in light of Articles 3(5) and 21 TEU, exploring the extraterritorial effects of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the intersection between the European and international rule of law.

The analysis then moved to the relationship between EU law and international law, using selected case studies to look at the nature of extraterritorial accountability and human rights obligations of the EU with regard to:

  • trade and investment policies;
  • trade relations with occupied territories;
  • and the adoption of sanctions by the EU.  

On the second day of the workshop, the papers examined extraterritoriality in the context of selected areas of EU external action and EU law and policy.

The first panel session focused on the field of public procurement and competition law. This involved examining the extraterritorial use of public procurement for the protection of socio-environmental concerns and human rights protection and, linked to this:

  • global supply chains;
  • the expansive scope of application of EU public procurement rules both within the EU and outside the EU;
  • and the distinctive nature of the competition law rules in the EU-Ukraine Agreement in comparison with other EU international agreements.

The final substantive law panel examined the global reach of EU law and its extraterritorial effects in the context of trade and development, migration and data protection.

The workshop concluded with a session on policy developments with representatives of the EU Institutions and NGOs.

This discussion centered around the integration of fundamental rights in EU external policies with examples from the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, selected judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union as well as the design of development-friendly trade, and the existence of legal remedies for right-holders in third countries in the context of various EU unilateral, multilateral and bilateral instruments.

The presentations and discussions of the two-day workshop showed how extraterritoriality is conceptualized in many different ways, remaining an essentially contested concept.

Any examination of extraterritoriality requires a rethinking about territory, jurisdiction and sovereignty and, in this context, of the relationship between EU law and international law.

From a combined reading of Articles 3(5) and 21 TEU, the Union emerges not only as a passive norm recipient but also as a shaper and generator of international rules.

Ultimately, the exploration revealed that while it is certain that the extraterritorial effects of EU law and the extraterritorial conduct of the EU have important human rights effects and redistributive implications, identifying and understanding the exact contours of these effects and implications poses a significant challenge, which requires further research.

Sussex feature in Women and Equalities Committee Brexit report - February 2017

Law, Politics and Sociology academics submitted their concerns to an inquiry into ensuring equality protection after the UK leaves the EU.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons published its new report on ‘Ensuring strong equalities legislation after the EU exit’ on Tuesday 28 February 2017. 

Members from the School of Law, Politics and Sociology submitted a response to the inquiry highlighting a number of concerns, including in relation to gender equality, discrimination in general and research funding.

One of the report’s main recommendations suggests that: "The Government should assess the extent of research and other equality initiatives that currently receive EU funds and replace and ring-fence these funds to allow current equalities research to continue undisrupted."

The submission put forward by the academics included evidence in support of this issue which was cited on page 23 of the report, contributing to the Committee’s recognition on this point.

Dr Moira Dustin, Research Fellow in the Department of Law, said: “We were pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the Women and Equality Committee’s inquiry.

“In our submission, we drew attention to some of the many ways the EU has supported the development of an equality framework and culture in the UK. We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the need to prevent any regression in the UK’s equality framework as a result of leaving the EU, and were particularly pleased to see our concern about EU research funding picked up as one of the report’s main recommendations.”

Dr Dustin would like to extend her thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the response: Dr Elizabeth CraigDr Carmelo DanisiProfessor Nuno FerreiraDr Nina HeldProfessor Susan MillnsProfessor Paul TaggartDr Samantha Velluti and Dr Mark Walters.

Contribution to Parliamentary Inquiry into the Human Rights Implications of Brexit - November 2016

Brexit reportNuno Ferreira, Sue Millns, Samantha Velluti, and Gerard Delanty have submitted a contribution to Parliament in an inquiry into the human rights implications of Brexit.

The Human Rights Committee made an open call for evidence, asking interested parties and stakeholders to submit evidence on any impact of the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU on the human rights framework and protection of human rights in the UK.