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The EU faces unprecedented challenges in the field of environmental and public health protection. However, the expert-based regulation model legitimizing the exercise of EU regulatory power has come under attack and political resistance. The workshop will examine the ways in which experts and executive actors in the EU interact in both legal rules and practice.

Event details of Regulating risks in the European Union
Start date 21 May 2015
End date 22 May 2015
Time 13:00

An international workshop co-sponsored by the Amsterdam Centre for Contemporary European Studies (ACCESS EUROPE), the Amsterdam Centre of European Law and Governance (ACELG) of the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)


Protecting EU citizens from public health and environmental risks is one of the cornerstones on the basis of which the EU institutions legitimize the exercise of growing EU regulatory power. The legitimacy of massive re-regulation of the internal market at EU level relied since the beginning on the claim to epistemic (output) legitimacy; in other words, on the promise of scientifically sound and non-majoritarian expert-based regulation to tackle transboundary health and environmental problems. While the limitations of relying on the epistemic model in today’s political Union are increasingly being recognized not only by academics, but also by EU regulatory actors, in practice EU risk regulation still overwhelmingly relies on this model (Lee 2009) even in the face of major political resistance. At the same time the EU faces unprecedented challenges (eg climate change, nanotechnology, food safety) in the field of environmental and public health protection. The pressing nature of these challenges goes together with an acute legitimacy crisis of EU regulation among EU citizens and societies, which makes social acceptability of EU risk regulation difficult to achieve.

This puts the appreciation that expert knowledge is a form of power in the EU in a politically and constitutionally precarious light. Moreover, it becomes crucial to examine closely the kind of expert knowledge that dominates EU risk regulation. Our capacity to avoid democratic disenfranchisement, whilst simultaneously recognizing the crucial importance of knowledge and expertise in risk regulation, becomes a central question. In order to address this question systematically, this workshop will examine the ways in which experts and executive actors in the EU interact in both legal rules and practice. The goal is to re-visit the state-of-the art with regard to these questions and to formulate viable suggestions for addressing them. At the same time the workshop, which will result in an edited volume published with Hart Publishing, aims to shape a new international and interdisciplinary research agenda by identifying new challenges and promising avenues for future research on EU risk regulation and executive power. 


  • Deirdre Curtin, University of Amsterdam, ACELG
  • Elizabeth Fisher, University of Oxford, Faculty of Law
  • Scott Greer, University of Michigan 
  • Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • Maria Lee, Law, University College London (organizer) 
  • Anniek de Ruijter, University of Amsterdam, ACELG (organizer)

  • Jack Stilgoe, University College London, Department of Science and Technology Studies 
  • Andrew Stirling, University of Sussex, School of Business, Management and Economics
  • Elen Stokes, Cardiff Law School
  • Holger Straßheim, Humboldt University Berlin 
  • Ellen Vos, Law, Maastricht University  
  • Maria Weimer, ACELG, University of Amsterdam (organizer)
  • Jonathan Zeitlin, University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences


If you are interested in attending the workshop, please contact Anniek de Ruijter,