Marie de Somer awarded Honorable Mention Ernst B. Haas Best Dissertation Prize

Marie De Somer received the ‘Ernst B. Haas Best Dissertation Award – Honorable Mention’ for her dissertation on the EU Court of Justice and its role in the area of EU immigration law. Awarded by APSA, the American Political Science Association, the prize recognises the best dissertations on European politics and society. The award was presented at the August APSA Annual Meeting in Boston. Marie defended her dissertation, which was supervised by Sophie Vanhoonacker and Maarten Vink, at Maastricht University’s political science department in June 2017. The dissertation has also been published by Palgrave Macmillan under the title “Precedents and Judicial Politics in EU Immigration Law”.

The book explores the use of precedents in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It argues that a strategic use of precedent-based discourses aids the Court in developing its jurisprudence autonomously; that is, independent of the political preferences of EU member states. The study is based on a long-term assessment of CJEU case law in the politically sensitive area of immigration law. It traces the Court’s rulings in this area from the 1970s up until the most recent period. The study identifies a series of consistent discursive patterns that slowly, but surely, moved EU immigration law beyond what member states had intended. The work takes an interdisciplinary approach, engaging with both political science and legal discussions on the Court of Justice and its role in processes of European integration.

Bruno De Witte (Professor at Maastricht University and at the European University Institute) commented: “Marie De Somer’s book is a fine example of interdisciplinary scholarship. Her combined methodological approach allows for convincing conclusions as to the degree to which the Court of Justice acts independently from the policy preferences of the EU Member States in the sensitive field of immigration.”

Susanne K. Schmidt (Professor at the University of Bremen, Germany) commented: “In this important book, Marie De Somer analyses the role of the European Court of Justice in EU family reunification policies. With its precedent-based argumentation the Court succeeds in moving the case law beyond what member states agreed to. Based on a mixed-methods approach and carefully avoiding problems of observational equivalence, De Somer breaks new ground in showing the autonomy of the Court. I cannot recommend this volume highly enough.”

Marie currently heads the Migration and Diversity Programme at the European Policy Centre in Brussels and is a guest professor at the KU Leuven.