Christina Eckes is professor of European law at the University of Amsterdam and director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG).
Her current research interest is strategic climate litigation. She examines among other things climate litigation's direct and indirect consequences for the democratic process in the multi-layered legal landscape of Europe. Her most recent publications examine the legal and factual exceptionalism of climate litigation, climate constitutionalisation, and the normative relevance of climate science in litigation.
Previously, she widely published on the separation of powers in 21st century Europe and the internal constitutional consequences of the European Union's external actions. In 2019, she published a comprehensive account of the latter, which was published as a monograph entitled EU Powers under External Pressure - How the EU's External Actions Alter its Internal Structures (Oxford University Press, 2019). Previously, her research focussed more specifically on EU restrictive measures (EU sanctions) and the constitutional considerations surrounding these measures, including a monograph entitled EU Counter-Terrorist Policies and Fundamental Rights - The Case of Individual Sanctions (Oxford University Press, 2009) which is the leading text on this topic.
In November 2023, Christina Eckes was awarded an ERC Consolidatore Grant for her research on strategic climate litigation's consequences for the democratic process. The project starts on 1 March 2024. Since 2022, she also participates in two Horizon Europe projects (Red Spinel and Gem Diamond, led by Université Libre de Bruxelles). Her contributions to both focuses amongst other things on the role of climate governance in the growing dissensus on liberal democracy.
Since 2020, Christina Eckes has been acting as the main PI a NORFACE grant for the project Separation of powers for 21st century Europe (SepaRope). The project runs from September 2020 to January 2024 and investigates in combined horizontal and vertical studies how recent economic and political developments affect the EU’s institutional framework and the anchoring of EU decision-making in national legitimacy. It combines conceptual constitutional analysis with empirical research in three fields (Economic and Monetary Union, migration, trade), in which EU decision-making is controversial, rights-sensitive and illustrative of recent power shifts.
Between 2011 and 2014, she carried out a research project entitled: Outside-In: Tracing the Imprint of the European Union's External Actions on Its Constitutional Landscape, financed by a personal research grant by the Dutch Scientific Organization (NWO). Until 2023, she was a member of the governing board of ACES - the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies, which is an interdisciplinary centre of excellence on contemporary Europe, the European Union, and its member states. She spent the academic year 2012/2013 as Emile Noël Fellow-in-residence at New York University and March to June 2014 as a visiting researcher at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
Christina Eckes joined the University of Amsterdam in September 2008. Previously, she completed her PhD research at the Centre of European Law at King's College London, which was fully funded by a university scholarship and worked as lecturer in EU law at the University of Surrey, UK (2007-2008). She also holds an LL.M (2003) from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, and passed First State Examination in Germany (2002).
Strategic climate litigation is a sharply increasing phenomenon. In recent years, climate litigation has become an increasingly powerful instrument to enforce or enhance governments’ climate commitments. Since the success of the Urgenda case in the Netherlands, climate cases have been filed worldwide. As with other strategic litigation, climate litigation uses the courtroom with the goal of creating broader changes in society. It involves many actors (NGOs; media; politicians) and has many nuanced and indirect consequences. Climate Litigation influences the democratic process at a time when democracy is considered already widely in decline. It creates authoritative narratives, frames perceptions, and ‘legalises’ the debate.
We need a theoretical Framework to study the consequences of climate litigation for the democratic process. Christina Eckes and her team develop the missing theoretical framework that captures the direct and indirect consequences of strategic climate litigation for the democratic process. Based on multi-method case studies of strategic climate litigation in 4 national (Germany, France, Netherlands & UK) and 2 European jurisdictions (EU & European Court of Human Rights), Eckes will address the questions:
How does strategic climate litigation affect the democratic process?
How could its (neglected) democratic potential be realised?
The research guides the involved actors on how to navigate through the complex legal opportunity structures in light of strategic climate litigations’ interaction with the democratic process. By shedding light on the nuanced democratic implications of strategic climate litigation, the project contributes to enabling democracies to address the climate emergency itself.
The research is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant and runs from 2024 to 2029.
SepaRope is an empirically-grounded and comparative project rethinking the theory and practices of Separation of powers in present-day European Union. Separation of powers, the classic model of decision-making, entrusts different state functions to different branches (legislative, executive, judiciary) and serves the double purpose of ensuring collective will-formation and control of those in power.
The polyarchic and multilevel nature of the EU is not easily reconciled with the separation-of-powers-model, either at EU or national level.
SepaRope investigates in combined horizontal and vertical studies how recent economic and political developments affect the EU’s institutional framework and the anchoring of EU decision-making in national legitimacy. It combines conceptual constitutional analysis with empirical research in three fields (Economic and Monetary Union, migration, trade), in which EU decision-making is controversial, rights-sensitive and illustrative of recent power shifts.
SepaRope is funded through the NORFACE Governance programme.
EU external actions have deep constitutional and institutional implications for EU law and practice. The EU has become an ever more active in international relations. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU’s competences in external relations have again further strengthened. As a result, the EU has become ever more active in external relations. This has in turn intensifies the internal constitutional and institutional effects of EU external actions.
This book traces these legal effects and the broader constitutional implications, including potential integrative forces. EU external actions affect the power division between the EU and its Member States and between the different EU institutions; the unity and autonomy of the EU legal order; the role and position of Member States on the international plane; their autonomy; the relationship between national, international and EU law; and the ability of EU citizens to identify who is responsible for a particular action or policy, as well as their legitimate expectation that the EU takes action on their behalf.
The different chapters demonstrate how the interpretation of organizational principles, such as sincere cooperation, subsidiarity, primacy and coherence, changes in the context of external relations; how the choice of an external legal basis rather than an internal legal basis affects the powers of the Union and its Member States; what power shifts happen when policies are determined in international agreements, rather than in internal decision-making; and how EU participation in international dispute settlement mechanisms affects the autonomy and legitimacy of the EU.
This project was largely funded by an NWO veni grant.