Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Secrecy and the European Union

A Democratic Perspective

20June2013 09:00 - 17:30


Secrecy is universally appealing. And understandably so: it conceals what individuals and organizations are determined to protect: “the dangerous, the shameful, the source of power”. Yet, serious study of secrecy in democratic contexts requires us to go beyond its protective function. This workshop aims to clarify the concept of secrecy and the academic approach suited to its study, and to explore the issues that arise when secrecy meets democracy.

The central question is why secrecy arises in different areas of European governance, focusing particularly on administration and security, traditionally the main fields where some degree of executive discretion is argued to be inevitable. Insights from these two fields are then regarded in the light of the normative issue of how secrecy can be reconciled with democracy. The emphasis on the European Union provides an opportunity to expand the debate beyond its usual focal point of state secrecy, and to provide a distinctive perspective on the dynamics of secrecy in the postnational context.

The workshop initiates a more systematic approach towards secrecy research in the EU with the aim of developing it further and fostering joint collaboration in future. It brings together researchers from various academic backgrounds and with a wide array of specialties in the field of secrecy in order to identify cross-cutting issues and establish a common conceptual language. Attendance at the workshop is by invitation only.

Speakers & Discussants (in alphabetical order)

Dr Clare Birchall, King’s College London

Prof. Monica den Boer, VU University Amsterdam

Dr James Cross,  Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich

Prof. Deirdre Curtin, University of Amsterdam - ACELG

Dr Bart Driessen, Legal Service of the Council of the European Union

Dr Frank Häge, University of Limerick

Maya Lester, Brick Court Chambers

Dr Claudia Hillebrand, Aberystwyth University

Prof. Nicolas Levrat, University of Geneva

Dr Daniel Naurin, University of Gothenburg


By invitation only.

Published by  ACELG