Photo of Professor Alan Dashwood with Professor Martin Trybus at the IEL Annual lecture 2012

Each year the Institute of European Law invites an eminent European lawyer or academic to present its annual lecture on a European legal topic. Past speakers have included such distinguished visitors as: Sir David Edward and Sir Konrad Schiermann, Gisela Stuart, Hon Mr Justice Elias, Judge Nicholas Forwood, Sir Christopher Bellamy, and Professors Piet Eeckhout, Damian Chalmers, Paul Craig and last year Stephen Weatherhill.

On 27 June 2012 Professor Alan Dashwood delivered the 10th IEL Annual Lecture.

Alan Dashwood was Professor of European Law at the University of Cambridge from 1995-2009 and is now Professor Emeritus. He is also a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, a Barrister in Henderson Chambers, and a Bencher of the Inner Temple. Before being appointed to his Chair at Cambridge, he was a Director in the Legal Service of the Council of the EU. He was the founding Editor of the European Law Review and was one of the Joint Editors of the Common Market Law Review (until December 2008). He is, amongst many other things, co-author of one of the standard textbooks used in the Birmingham undergraduate Legal Foundations of the European Union module Wyatt and Dashwood’s European Union Law, the sixth edition of which appeared in 2011.

The Institute was very happy to welcome Professor Dashwood here in Birmingham on the eve of its Integration or Disintegration? conference, which started on the morning after this Annual Lecture. He kindly agreed to contribute to its opening panel tomorrow as well as delivering the lecture. His lecture was entitled Judicial Activism and Conferred Powers - Is the Court of Justice of the EU falling into bad habits? and focussed on the case law of the European Court of Justice. However, this at first sight very legal topic covered the wider topics of conferral and therefore competence of the EU and the role of the Court in determining these crucial issues.

The principle of conferral is a fundamental element of the EU’s constitution. The Union has only those powers that the Member States have conferred upon it by way of the Treaties. In such a legal order, courts are constitutionally bound to eschew activism that effectively extends the competences of the Union beyond the bounds set by the Treaties.

The lecture distinguished between the “good activism” of the CJEU in earlier years, which went with the grain of the then EC Treaty, and the “bad activism” of recent years, characterised by abusive over-interpretation of the free movement principles and of the concept of citizenship. Professor Dashwood was also critical of recent developments in the case law on the horizontal direct effect of EU Directives.

The lecture was attended by about 45 scholars, students, and practitioners and was followed by a buffet and wine reception.