New event! ACELG annual conference: Expertise, participation, and EU law – a constitutional perspective – Amsterdam 8 November 2019


Expertise has long played a constitutive role in the European Union (EU). From the technocratic ideology of early day neofunctionalism, to agencification and, more recently, the management of the financial crisis, technical expertise has been key in compensating the disputed democratic credentials of the Union with technical legitimacy.

Justifying politically divisive and socially contested measures through technical and allegedly neutral arguments has however proven to result in a fragile equilibrium. Such fragility has surfaced time and again in periodic outbursts of contestation, such as those occurred recently in relation to the controversial reauthorization of the pesticide glyphosate. In particular, heavy reliance on expert justification has proved to entail a triple risk: of excluding the variety of values and world views concerned, of obscuring latent conflicts between diverging interests, and of ultimately resulting in politically and legally unaccountable exercises of discretion.

Expert authority itself is currently facing a double challenge posed, on the one hand, by populist, post-factual narratives and, on the other hand, by a deeper, increasing discomfort with the idealized image of expertise as an unbiased source of knowledge, insulated from interests and policy preferences. The convergence between these pressures and the prolonged legitimacy crisis affecting the European project calls for a renewed effort to understand the role of expertise in the EU.


Panel 1 – Expertise and the internal market: risk, objectivity, and ideology

  • Chair/Discussant: Maria Weimer (ACELG)
  • Alessandra Arcuri (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Cathrine Holst (University of Oslo)

Panel 2 – Opening the stage: avenues for contestation and citizens’ participation

  • Chair/Discussant: Laurens Ankersmit (ACELG)
  • Päivi Leino Sandberg (University of Helsinki)
  • Filipe Brito Bastos (ACELG)

Panel 3 – Beyond technical discretion: legal accountability of expert-based decision making

  • Chair/Discussant: Joana Mendes (University of Luxembourg)
  • Marta Morvillo and Maria Weimer (ACELG)
  • Wendy Wagner (University of Texas)

Keynote – Developing a constitutional language for EU expert governance

  • Stijn Smismans (Cardiff University)
  • Chair: Christina Eckes (ACELG)


Participation in the conference is free of charge, but registration is required. Please register to participate.