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The Polish challenge: Can and should courts decide on the supremacy of EU law?

Thursday 27 January 2022
Kamerling Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
Lorentz Hall, Room A144


On 7 October 2021, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal gave the most brutal and far reaching rejection of EU supremacy to date. Although a debate on primacy has been ongoing for decades between national apex courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Polish judgment forms an extreme and dangerous escalation. The Tribunal inter alia held that certain parts of the EU Treaties were ultra vires under the Polish constitution, and that even the Polish parliament could declare certain parts of EU law invalid.

This escalation challenges the foundation of the EU legal order. Already in substance, therefore, the judgment raises vital and urgent questions. The judgment, however, also raises questions on a more structural and fundamental level. Should we even perceive the Polish Tribunal as a court, or as a political institution? Should the question of supremacy, and hence the relation between the EU and its Member States, be settled by courts? And in that context, might this judgment in part be attributable to the fact that we are asking too much from courts, or too little from political actors, in EU integration? A question that touches on the broader question of what the role of courts can and should be in tackling major societal challenges. In this inaugural lecture of the new seminar series, Conflict Resolution Seminars @Leiden, Armin Cuyvers will address these and other questions raised by the Polish case law.

The session will be delivered in a hybrid format (online and in-person, where feasible). If you plan to attend in person, please confirm your attendance by emailing Asmaa Khadim at a.n.khadim@law.leidenuniv.nl

Presenter Bio

Armin is full Professor of European Law at the Europa Instituut of Leiden University, where he holds the chair in EU Constitutional Law and Comparative Regional Integration. He also is the director of CompaRe, the Leiden Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Comparative Regional Integration and the faculty teaching director for all legal Masters. He previously was a visiting researcher at a.o. Berkeley, Stanford, Sydney University, Hastings Law School and Bilgi, as well as a visiting fellow at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), the in-house think tank of the European Commission President. His research focusses on European constitutional law, sovereignty, Brexit, (con)federalism and monetary integration, often in a comparative perspective and in collaboration with social psychologists to integrate their empirical insights into EU law.

About Conflict Resolution @Leiden

Institutions for Conflict Resolution / Conflictoplossende Instituties (COI) is one of the two legal science themes of the Dutch National Sector Plan for Law at Leiden Law School, the other being Empirical Legal Studies. As part of its activities, the COI research group organises a monthly seminar series, Conflict Resolution Seminars @Leiden, for researchers interested in institutions for conflict resolution. The research seminars are intended to explore judicial approaches to resolving difficult and contentious societal problems, ranging from climate protection to race relations. Judicial decision-making at the local, national and supranational levels, as well as alternative dispute resolution approaches, are considered. 

Researchers across Leiden University are invited to present their work, and we welcome interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research on any topic that aligns with the theme of the seminar series. These seminars are intended to bring together academics from across the university to share ideas and collaborate on mechanisms and strategies that best promote effective and inclusive conflict resolution. If you are interested in becoming a presenter, please contact Asmaa Khadim at a.n.khadim@law.leidenuniv.nl

Click here to join the online session

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