Four Research Areas

1/ European criminal area
2/ The protection of rights and freedoms in Europe and in the world
3/ Institutional law, economic law and external relations law
4/ Asylum and immigration


1/ European criminal area


The European criminal law research team is headed up by Anne Weyembergh. It is made up of Gilles De Kerchove (in charge of the course), Serge de Biolley (teaching assistant and researcher), Chloé Brière (researcher on external funds – F.R.S.-F.N.R.S), Julia Burchett (researcher on external funds), Céline Cocq (researcher on external funds– Commission européenne),  Elodie Sellier (researcher on external funds), Anthony Rizzo (Mini Arc), et Irene Wieczorek (researcher on external funds – FWA). The team also includes as scientific collaborators to the IEE Laura Surano, Gisèle Vernimmen, Stéphanie Bosly et Francesca Galli.

This team set up and has been organising the annual summer school dedicated to the European area of criminal justice since 2004. This European criminal law team is also responsible for the management of the European Criminal Law Academic Network (ECLAN) in partnership with the University of Luxembourg and Queen Mary University, London.


The ECLAN network was set up by Anne Weyembergh and Serge de Biolley. The network’s activities were launched on 1 December 2004. It is coordinated by Anne Weyembergh, Katalin Ligeti (Luxembourg University) and Valsamis Mitsilegas (Queen Mary University, London). The network’s activities are cofinanced by the European Commission (Agis and criminal justice programme), the Ministry of Justice and by the Belgian Ministry of Justice. The network covers 32 countries, i.e. the 28 Member States of the European Union plus four third countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Bosnia Herzegovina) with which the EU has close links in terms of police and criminal justice. It brings together over 150 researchers and professionals specialising in European criminal law. The main aim of the network is to promote research and to boost synergies between universities, academics and researchers by organising international conferences or colloquia and by publishing group work. It also aims to develop teaching and training in the EU’s criminal law sector. Its intention is to oil the wheels of contact and exchanges between the ‘world of academia’ and European institutions. The network makes the expertise of its members available and in particular that of the Commission (the website of this network). The research achievements of the ECLAN network are available in the research achievements section.

Several PhD theses have been defended in connection with this research domain:

  • Chloé Brière,”EU-policy in the fight against trafficking in human beings. A representative example of the challenges caused by the externalization of the AFSJ”, 2016 (co-supervisor Robert Roth, Université de Genève).
  • Irene Wieczorek, “The legitimacy of EU criminal law: what role for normative justifications?”, 2016 (co-supervisor Paul de Hert, VUB).
  • Auke Willems, “Demystifying the trust problem in EU criminal law: enhancing mutual trust by harmonising criminal procedural rights?”, 2017 (co-supervisor Paul de Hert, VUB).
  • Laurent Kennes, “Les systèmes de sanctions des irrégularités en procédure pénale : État de la question en droit national et européen”, 2018 (co-supervisor Franklin Kuty, ULB).

Anne Weyembergh is also the supervisor for the following PhD theses in the area of European criminal law:

  • Ines Armada (Geconcerteerde Onderzoeksacties (GOA), 2011-2014 / FWO since 2014) ‘Transnational investigations and evidence law: in search for an EU legal framework? The case of special investigation techniques’ (co-supervisor: Paul De Hert (VUB)).
  • Céline Cocq (FP7 SURVEILLE June 2012 – June 2015) ‘Enhancing the effectiveness of information and intelligence sharing in the Association of South east Asian Nations (ASEAN) to fight serious transnational crime: towards a regionalisation in criminal matters?’.
  • Elisa Narminio ‘Combating Child Trafficking Through International Law and Policy : a Multilevel Governance and Transnational Cooperation Approach’.
  • Anthony Rizzo (mini-ARC, 2014-2018) ‘L’influence du droit pénal européen sur le droit pénal belge, plus particulièrement en matière de saisies et de confiscations’ (co-supervisor: Franklin Kuty).
  • Elodie Sellier (since 2017), “Blurring boundaries between Justice and Home Affairs and the Common Foreign and Security Policy in the European Union’s fight against terrorism: A constitutional and political application of the principle of coherence since the Lisbon Treaty” (co-supervisor: Julien Jeandesboz).


2/ The protection of rights and freedoms in Europe and in the world

This research domain is headed up by Emmanuelle Bribosia and draws together the following researchers: Joseph Damamme, PhD student (Mini-ARC), Louise Fromont, PhD student (FNRS), Sarah Ganty, PhD student (ARC), Francisco Javier Mena, Assistant and PhD student (PAI) et Cécilia Rizcallah, PhD student (FNRS). Due to several joint research projects obtained by Professors Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive (Director of the Perelman Centre of Legal Philosophy) the following are also included in this research domain whilst remaining attached to the Perelman Centre: Dorothéa Staes, PhD student (PAI).

The main research achievements of this research domain are available in the research achievements section.


Several PhD theses have been defended in connection with this research domain:

  • Moritz Baumgartel, ‘The Two European Courts and the Rights of Migrants: A Contextual Evaluation of Court Effectiveness’ (co-supervisors: Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive), 2016.
  • Gabrielle Caceres, ‘L’aménagement raisonnable en matière religieuse : l’exemple nord-américain peut-il nourrir l’expérience européenne?’ (supervisors: Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive), 2016.
  • Laura Van den Eynde, ‘Interpreting Rights Collectively Comparative Argument in Public Interest Litigants’ Briefs on Fundamental Rights Issues’ (supervisors: Julie Allard and Emmanuelle Bribosia), 2015.
  • Pola Cebulak, ‘Judicial activism of the Court of Justice of the EU in the pluralist architecture of global law’ (supervisors: Emmanuelle Bribosia and Nicolas Levrat), 2014.
  • Gaëlle Dusepulchre,  ‘Politique européenne de coopération au développement et relations extérieures. Des droits de l’homme à la bonne gouvernance. Impact de l’interdépendance du droit et du politique sur le choix des instruments de régulation’ (supervisor: Marianne Dony), 2008.


Emmanuelle Bribosia also supervises five PhD theses closely linked to this subject area:

  • Joseph Damamme, (mini-ARC 2014-2018), ‘Le dépassement de la logique conflictuelle entre les intérêts d’ordre économique de l’entreprise et les besoins des personnes handicapées – Une analyse comparative entre le droit de l’Union européenne et le droit des Etats-Unis’
  • Louise Fromont (FNRS, 2015-2019), co-supervisor: Arnaud van Waeyenberge, ‘La nouvelle gouvernance économique au sein de l’Union européenne à la suite de la crise économique et financière : quelles conséquences pour l’Etat de droit?’
  • Sarah Ganty (ARC, 2013-2017), co-supervisor: Isabelle Rorive, ‘Intégration civique et égalité, pour qui ? Étude de droit comparé des politiques d’intégration civique belges, françaises et néerlandaises à l’aune d’une approche intégrée du droit européen et international de l’égalité de traitement et de la non discrimination’
  • Francisco Javier Mena, (ULB and PAI, 2010-2015), co-supervisor: Paul De Hert, ‘Cour de justice de l’Union européenne et marge nationale d’appréciation: le cas des droits fondamentaux’
  • Cécilia Rizcallah, (FNRS, 2016-2020), co-supervisor: Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck, ‘La confiance mutuelle : pierre angulaire de l’espace constitutionnel européen ? Analyse transversale et critique d’un principe fondamental du droit de l’Union européenne’


In addition, a specialised research division in non-discrimination law, from the perspective of Belgian law, European law and comparative law, has been developed since 2003 in close cooperation with the Perelman Centre of Legal Philosophy of the Faculty of Law (Isabelle Rorive). That involves Emmanuelle Bribosia as an independent academic expert in several European networks set up by the European Commission in the area of non-discrimination. Since 2010, Emmanuelle Bribosia has been involved in the Comparative Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group, which was set up at the initiative of Professor D. Oppenheimer (University of California, Berkeley). This brings together professors and researchers in law, who are attached to several American, European, Asian and Australian Universities. In 2011 Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive were visiting professors for a stay at the University of California, Berkeley. That enabled them to deepen academic ties with this special partner of the ULB and to lay the foundations for several joint research projects. Since then, they have taken part in every conference organised in this context in Paris in 2012, in Berkeley in 2013, in Brussels (conference organised at the ULB in the context of the PAI project) in 2014 and in Shanghai in 2016. Thanks to this cooperation, several PhD students (Sarah Ganty, Dorothea Staes and Laura Van den Eynde, Joseph Dammame) have also been able to carry out a research visit at the University of California, Berkeley, in Professor D. Oppenheimer’s team.

Since 2014, Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive have created an Equality Law Clinic as part of the PAI project ‘The Global Challenge of Human Rights Integration: Towards a Users’ Perspective’, which is based at the Centre for European Law and at the Perelman Centre of Legal Philosophy. Every year, this ‘law clinic’ offers a selected group of students the opportunity to deepen their practical knowledge about transnational issues relating to the law on equality and non-discrimination, such as the rights to reproduction, handicaps, the law on transgender people and migration. Students follow seminars and conferences with professors and professionals involved in the area of human rights’ law. At the end of the programme, the students have to produce different pieces of work such as reports, a third party intervention or codes of conduct on a subject area that they have gone into in depth for practitioners in cooperation with partner organisations.


3/ Institutional law, economic law and external relations law


This area of research aggregates three issues that are at the heart of Marianne Dony’s research and teaching. Coordinated by Marianne Dony, it brings together a team comprising two researchers, Nicolas Joncheray and Gaël Le Roux, and several professors who are associate members of the Centre for European Law, Jean-François Bellis, Peter Oliver and Denis Waelbroeck.


Economic law

In the area of economic law, the team’s research is mainly about competition law and single market law.

Marianne Dony is recognised as one of the best European specialists in state aid law, an area which she has written several publications on. Besides her work ‘Le contrôle des aides d’Etat’ (in the Commentaire J. Mégret collection), there is good reason to highlight the annual state of play of case law published in the Journal des “Tribunaux droit européen” [Newspaper of the Courts of European Law] that she has written, since 1994, about the case law of the Court of Justice and the practice of the European Commission in state aid matters. This has become the “Journal de droit européen” et la “chronique de jurisprudence” [the Journal of European law and the case law state of play contribution] that she co-writes with Jacques Derenne in the “Cahiers de droit européen”.

Her academic interests also include the issue of services of general (economic) interest in connection with the application of competition and single market rules and of the definition of service of general economic interest. Several times she has been called to work as an expert in this area for the Committee of the Regions, for the European Commission and for operators such as the “mutualités” [organisations that process social insurance contributions and payments], the Brussels office for employment or the Walloon office for employment and training. She also organised a study day on ‘The financing of services of general economic interest after the post-Altmark II package’ in Brussels on 11 May 2012.

Marianne Dony supervises or supervised PhD theses on competition law, in particular:

  • Maria Helena Cardoso Ferreira, ‘Le droit de la concurrence de l’union européenne et les droits de la propriété Intellectuelle dans une économie de la connaissance’, 2016;
  • Etsuko Kameoka, ‘Legal Professional Privilege in Competition Law Enforcement in the European Union’, co-supervisor Jean-François Bellis.


Jean François Bellis and Denis Waelbroeck are recognised specialists in the law of cartels, abuse of dominant position and market concentration. For this area, every year they organise a series of conferences entitled ‘Les mardis du droit de la concurrence’ [Competition law Tuesdays]. This has been a big success with practitioners and also with many academics.

Marianne Dony, Jean François Bellis and Denis Waelbroeck have taken part in the ARC project (2008-2013) ‘Market Evolution Competition and Policy: Theory and Evidence’, in partnership with several economist members of ECARES (P. Legros, E. Cantillon and G. Kirchsteiger).


Peter Oliver is the author of a major publication entitled ‘Free Movement of Goods in the European Union under Articles 34 to 36 TFEU’ (Hart Publishing, 2010), which he wrote together with six other authors.


Institutional law

Marianne Dony’s academic interests have included the institutional evolution of the European Union. She has completed studies on the role of the European Commission, qualified majority voting in the Council, the growing power of the European Parliament, the principle of subsidiarity and the involvement of EU member states in policy-making in the EU.

Together with Emmanuelle Bribosia, she co-edited the publication of a tome on the European Constitution (2005), published a commentary on the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) and a tome on ‘Le traité instituant l’Union européenne : un projet, une méthode un agenda’ [The Treaty setting up the European Union : one project, one method, one agenda] together with J.V. Louis (2014).


She is managing a publication on the ‘Ordre juridique de l’Union et contentieux européen’ [Legal order of the EU and European disputes] in the context of the J. Megret Commentaire. One volume, entitled ‘Les compétences de l’Union européenne’ [The competences of the European Union] and written by Thierry Ronse, is being printed. Another volume, entitled ‘La Cour de justice de l’Union européenne – organisation, missions et contentieux’ [The Court of Justice of the European Union – organisation, missions and disputes] is in the production phase. Professor Sean Van Raepenbusch, who was President of the Civil Service Tribunal until 1 September 2016, has been given the task of writing this. She also supervises research being carried out by Nicolas Joncheray as part of his PhD thesis on the principle of autonomy in European law. Here, he shows that there is a European constitutional law based on four fields: competition law, European criminal law, bilateral investment agreements’ law and law on the freezing of assets.


External relations’ law

The subject area relating to the allocation of powers between the European Union and EU Member States in the area of external relations is the focus of studies being done by Marianne Dony on the external relations of Economic and Monetary Union and on mixed agreements. She has coordinated, together with Professor J. V. Louis, the production of the second edition of Volume 12 of the J. Megret commentary on ‘External relations’. She wrote a text entitled ‘The European Union’s external relations and their evolving legal framework’ in a publication entitled ‘EU and global governance’ edited by Mario Telo and published in 2009 by Routledge. She coordinated a publication in 2012 on ‘La dimension externe de l’espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice au lendemain de Lisbonne et de Stockholm : un bilan à mi-parcours, [The external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice in the aftermath of Lisbon and Stockholm : state of play at the half-way stage], published by Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, Brussels.


Marianne Dony supervised a thesis by Gaelle Dusépulchre entitled ‘Politique européenne de coopération au développement et relations extérieures : des droits de l’homme à la bonne gouvernance, impact de l’interdépendance du droit et du politique sur le choix des instruments de régulation’ [European cooperation policy in development and external relations : human rights to good governance, impact of the interdependence of law and policy on the choice of regulatory instruments]. This was a thesis that was defended in public on 2 September 2008. She is currently supervising the PhD thesis of Gaël Le Roux (co-supervisor Rostane Mehdi, as part of a thesis supervised jointly with the University of Aix en Provence) entitled ‘L’impact des traités commerciaux de l’Union européenne sur la réglementation de l’économie numérique’ [the impact of the trade treaties of the European Union on the regulation of the digital economy].


4/ Asylum and immigration

In the area of European immigration and asylum law, Philippe De Bruycker established the Academic Network for Legal Studies into Immigration and Asylum in Europe (better known as the ‘ODYSSEUS network’) in 1999. The network benefited from financial support from the European Commission in the early years when it was first set up but is now self-financing thanks to profits from the annual summer school that it has been organising since 2001.

Today, the ODYSSEUS network covers the 28 members states of the European Union plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland as countries associated with the Schengen area. With two representatives per Member State, it brings together around 50 academics specialising in European immigration and asylum law. They are the drivers behind several research teams in the EU that can be mobilised for big projects such as participating in European Commission or European Parliament framework contracts.

The network aims to pull together research on European visa policies as well as external border, immigration and asylum policies. We would highlight the following among the main achievements of the ODYSSEUS network:

The publication in French and/or English of a dozen or so collaborative works and the organisation of a series of European congresses on the following issues: regularisation of illegal immigrants, subsidiary protection of refugees, the emergence of a European immigration policy, the emergence of a European asylum policy, a critical state of play of the Treaty of Amsterdam in terms of immigration and asylum, the current state of EU immigration and asylum law, the future of free movement of people in the EU, external dimensions of law and the EU’s immigration and asylum policy, the vulnerability in European asylum law, the common European asylum system and solidarity in terms of asylum and borders.

Producing several pieces of comparative research for the European institutions (especially a study on the transposition of ten directives in 27 Member States of the EU having brought together 120 lawyers across the year who prepared 270 reports in a year used as basis for the reports of the European Commission for the attention of the Parliament and Council).

The organisation of an annual summer school entitled ‘EU Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum in Europe’ which has been attracting around 120 participants in two Francophone and Anglophone groups every July in Brussels since 2001.