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PhD defence

Play by the Rules?

Thursday 22 November 2018
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


There is an increasing amount of attention on EU and its Member States contributions to implementation of two landmark agreements: the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Agenda 2030 with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Absent from the current literature is an analysis of the political effect of legal competences on coordination between EU and Member State actors. Legal competences will become increasingly important for transformative sustainability policies and the debate on the ‘Future of Europe’ after Brexit.

By using different case studies focusing on alternative fuel policies, ‘Team EU’ in climate negotiations and SDG implementation, this dissertation attempts to explore the potential of including legal competences as independent variables explaining coordination of EU and Member State actors.

The findings nuance some of the theories and concepts in which the role of EU Treaties is often neglected. While the literature often focuses on ‘competence creep’ of the Commission, the case studies reveal that the Member State actors especially are protective of their fixed legal competences on e.g. taxation, energy-mix or land-use policies. The dissertation also shows, however, that the legal competences are sometimes not used habitually unless clear examples of behaviours ‘contrary to the Treaty-logic’ or ‘contrary to sustainable development objectives’.

The dissertation not only serves academic integrative purposes. There is increased societal attention for legal avenues to influence political decision-making. As an example, the Dutch ‘Urgenda’ case demonstrate that Courts can be responsive to the argument that Member States’ policies are insufficient and even ‘unlawful’ to avoid dangerous climate change.


  • Prof. M.O. Hosli
  • Prof. M.A.M. Salih


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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