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URC-professor Ester Herlin-Karnell

‘The need for a shared sense of justice in the EU’

We cannot avoid it any longer. With the crisis in Greece and with Italy left isolated as African refugees flood the country, does the EU have a shared responsibility or not? And if so, can it be incorporated in an integrated system of justice? And how can the EU achieve a common sense of fairness in its development of criminal law? Lawyer Ester Herlin-Karnell is conducting research into this area on which the very future of the union depends.

“She is one of those talented young people you encounter and immediately think: she is destined to be a professor”, says Dean of Law Elies van Sliedregt. “She has a background in both criminal law and European law, which is an unusual combination. Many criminal lawyers do not fully understand the importance of European law and are put off by the dry nature of the subject matter.”

Ester Herlin-Karnell is not one of those lawyers. She is fascinated by the question of whether law can become integrated or whether it is inextricably bound to individual nation states. “The European Union is experiencing both a financial and constitutional crisis. We allow people to move freely across the borders of the member states to create the life they want, but at the same time we do not. The other member states are refusing to take responsibility for refugees entering Greece, Italy and Spain even though this is actually a European problem. In this case, there is no common aim: national interests take precedence. The result is a negative spiral: no one is helping those countries, which is making them wonder what the point of the EU is for them and become less cooperative in other areas at the same time as it is a severe economic crisis. This is why it is important for me to investigate whether there is actually a shared notion of justice among the 28 EU members and whether we can achieve a shared legal concept based on it.”

Read full interview with Ester Herlin-Karnell.

Ester Herlin-Karnell gave her inaugural lecture on October 29, 2014.