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CML Rev on tour in Berlin

On 16 June 2017, the 3rd CML Rev on tour took place in Berlin. The workshop on ‘The EU and Globalisation: Assets and Liabilities’ was organized in cooperation with LMU Munich and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Responses of governments to the economic aspects of globalisation have always varied between openness and closedness, trying to strike a balance between requirements of competitiveness and economic growth and demands for social cohesion. What does the EU contribute to the management of the economic aspects of globalisation? While the sheer size of the EU in economic terms is generally regarded as an asset that assists its citizens with a bargaining power that far exceeds the weight of any of its Member States, there is an increasing perception that the EU has become a liability in the process of globalisation because of flaws in its policies, in its objectives, and in its mode of governance. However, complaints are contradictory. Some would argue that the EU has weakened or even dismantled national protective regimes while not offering enough protection on the Union level. Others would claim that the EU’s regulatory zeal prevents Member States from becoming as competitive as they could be.


When on the occasion of his first meeting with German chancellor Merkel, the recently elected French President Macron drew a direct link between concerns about uncontrolled globalisation and the rise of populism, he confirmed a widely held view. It seems that there is now a window of opportunity for a reform of the EU that takes account of these concerns. A first step in this direction was taken by the EU Commission in a reflection paper on harnessing globalisation (COM[2017] 240) published on May 10th 2017. The reflection paper “aims to make a fair and evidence-based assessment of what globalisation means for Europe and Europeans” and “to consider what the EU can do to shape globalisation in line with our shared interests and values”. Shortly after the publication of the reflection paper, on May 16th 2017, the European Court of Justice rendered the eagerly awaited Opinion 2/15 on the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Singapore, thus setting the scene for Europe’s external response to globalisation in its trade relations with third countries (including, of course, the UK). However, as the reflection paper indicates, the internal dimension of Europe’s response to globalisation, aiming at competitiveness and a fair distribution of the benefits derived from globalisation, is equally relevant. As the European response to globalisation is a task shared between the EU, its Member States, regional and local levels of administration and cuts across a wide range of policies, it is exceedingly difficult to get a grasp of the parameters in play.

Aim of the workshop

The aim of this workshop was not to fill in any details that are still missing in the Commission’s reflection paper, but to encourage an academic discourse across the boundaries of different fields of expertise. This discourse should allow us, firstly, to uncover cross-connections between areas of EU law that determine the way in which globalisation is harnessed in the EU and secondly, to retrace fundamental choices that have to be made in this regard, in particular in view of wide-spread demands “to take back (democratic) control” of a seemingly unchecked development, whether on a national or on a supra-national level. While the obvious starting-point of any discussion of the European response to globalisation is its regime of external trade, it is equally important to consider various other aspects of the European legal framework that determine the ability of the EU and/or its Member States to shape globalisation: Which reforms, if any, of the economic governance in the Eurozone could promote the capacity to absorb imbalances caused by globalisation without putting the global competitiveness of the Eurozone at risk? How can public revenues generated by taxation be protected against tax avoidance and tax erosion in view of close-knit global economic ties? Is tax law part of the answer to the problem of achieving a socially fair distribution of the benefits from globalisation? Is the challenge posed by globalisation to European labour markets and welfare systems adequately dealt with in the European Pillar of Social Rights? Is it advisable to loosen the competition rules applicable to firms and to the Member States in order to allow for more flexibility in private and public responses to globalisation?

These questions, to name but a few, and their connection with the over-arching theme of providing a response to globalisation that European citizens regard as legitimate require an academic discourse that transcends usually disconnected fields of expertise.

By bringing together leading academics from different fields and choosing the format of a compact workshop, the Editorial Board of the Common Market Law Review hoped to inspire a discussion that will contribute to the reform efforts lying ahead.


08:50 – 09:00    Introduction (Thomas Ackermann) 

09:00 – 12:00     Specific aspects: 

09:00 – 09:30     Franz Mayer: External trade (Chair: Christophe Hillion) 
09:30 – 10:00     Matthias Ruffert: Economic governance (Chair: Stefaan Van den Bogaert) 
10:15 – 10:45       Wolfgang Schön: Taxation (Chair: Michael Dougan) 
10:45 – 11:15        Rüdiger Krause: Labour law/social law (Chair: Niamh Nic Shuibne) 
11:15 – 11:45        Jens-Uwe Franck: Competition (Chair: Giorgio Monti) 

12:00 – 13:30      Roundtable and General Discussion (Chair: Alison McDonnell) 

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