Every 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, Professor Alan Dashwood and Sir Konrad Schiermann, Gisela Stuart, Hon Mr Justice Elias, Judge Nicholas Forwood, Sir Christopher Bellamy and Professor Piet Eeckhout. The 2015 Institute of European Law Annual Lecture was delivered by Malcolm Harbour CBE on 23 February 2015 at Birmingham Law School.

Malcolm Harbour CBE, served 15 years as Conservative Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the West Midlands, including 5 years as Chairman of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. He did not seek re-election in 2014. He has been deeply involved in advocating, developing and agreeing EU legislation. His work has encompassed the services market, manufacturing industry, the digital economy, public procurement and consumer protection. He has chaired many legislative negotiations, and brokered many compromise solutions.

Before EU politics, Malcolm spent 32 years in the motor industry, as an engineer, a senior commercial executive, a consultant and a researcher. He now promotes innovation and stronger EU engagement in his home region. He is a Birmingham Science City Advisory Board member, and recently joined the Council of the University of Birmingham. He contributes to European think tanks on policies to boost the Single Market, and improve rule making. He graduated in Mechanical Sciences from Trinity College, Cambridge, and gained his Management Sciences Diploma from Aston Business School. He was awarded a CBE in 2013 for services to the UK economy.

There is increasing dissatisfaction with the time consuming and opaque nature of EU law making, and the perceived "democratic deficit" that results. In his lecture, Malcolm Harbour, drawing on his experience as politician and engineer, proposed a range of improvements to the legislative process that can be introduced quickly and without treaty changes. While the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union defines a linear process for co-decision legislation, in practice agreement can only be achieved by extensive "non-linear" processes, exchanges of information and informal negotiations outside formal frameworks. These processes can be radically reformed, and better integrate more intensive and structured pre-legislative consultation. Reform can also address the urgent need to step up the involvement of National Parliaments of Member States, who have weak engagement at all stages of the current process. Mr Harbour's lecture drew on his participation in a High-Level Group on Institutional Reform, organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies. The findings are published on the CEPS web site www.ceps.eu.