On 11 December 2015, Vigjilenca Abazi successfully defended her doctoral thesis entitled ‘Secrecy and Oversight in the European Union: The Law and Practice of Classified Information’. In her work, which was praised by members of the doctorate committee as a major contribution that combines legal analysis with insights from political science and public administration, she examines how official secrets impede the realisation of democratic scrutiny and fundamental rights in the European Union.
Drawing from 40 interviews with EU officials, MEPs, experts, and civil activists, Vigjilenca Abazi not only maps the regulatory regime of official secrets but also investigates its practice or in her own words ‘opens the black box’ of the European Union Classified Information system.
She finds that the inaccessibility of official secrets is a recurrent problem in the interplay between executive prerogatives to secrecy and processes of oversight. The EU oversight institutions have incorporated confidentiality rules that disproportionality affect public deliberation and fundamental rights but do not limit the executives’ discretion on final disclosure. Adaptations to the EU constitutional oversight structure have been pragmatically developed behind closed doors leading to an administrative practice that legally thrives outside EU primary law.
After Anniek de Ruijter and external PhD researcher Jeremy Bierbach, Vigjilenca Abazi is the third ACELG PhD candidate to finalize her PhD project in 2015. She is currently postdoctoral researcher and a research coordinator at the Centre for European Research (CERiM) at Maastricht University.