The issue of ‘Europe’ is highly topical. Leiden Europe experts make regular appearances in the media to give their views on developments, on issues ranging from the possibility of excluding Greece from the Eurozone or sending boatloads of refugees back to Turkey, to the 'Brexit' or the Association Agreement on Ukraine concluded between the EU and member states.
The internal market and the euro
One of the prime objectives of the whole integration project is the realisation of the internal market. This means abolishing national borders within Europe and guaranteeing the free movement of people, goods, services and assets. The Europa Institute at Leiden University examines the restrictions imposed on the internal market and how the internal market can function more effectively. The Institute addresses a raft of relevant issues, from the regulation of coffeeshops to online gambling. Maintaining workable competition is a further topic that warrants attention. The Institute’s research in this area focuses on potentially unlawful state support, to banks or professional football organisations, for example.
The common currency is probably the most tangible evidence of European cooperation. It also has to be said that the euro has been the EU’s biggest concern in recent years. The Europa Institute has closely monitored the whole debt crisis from the outset. The Institute conducts research on the measures that are taken to strengthen economic governance within the Eurozone and the EU and those aimed at avoiding a repeat of the Greek drama. This research takes place within the context of the European Research Centre for Economic and Financial Governance (EUROCEFG), an interdisciplinary research centre set up by Stefaan Van den Bogaert, Professor of European Law, together with colleagues from the Universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam.
The scientific outlook on Europe goes further than the 28 members of the European Union. Research at Leiden University also focuses on the Council of Europe (47 members, including Russia). The European Court of Human Rights, which is part of the Council of Europe and that delivers judgements on the grounds of the European Treaty on Human Rights, plays an important role in this area. Citizens who believe that their fundamental rights are being infringed by a member state can submit a complaint to this Court. The decisions taken by the Court are crucial to the protection of human rights within Europe. Furthermore, since 2009 the European Union has had its own binding catalogue of fundamental rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The basic social rights of European citizens are anchored firmly in this Charter. The Charter has enhanced the EU’s position as a prominent player in the protection of human rights.
Research on European human rights protection aims to ensure that people are more aware of their rights. What protection do the different European countries offer and what scope do they have for making their own decisions on this issue? What is the relationship between the EU and the Council of Europe on human rights? These are the kinds of questions that researchers at Leiden University address.