Second Annual CERiM Conference: Contestation of Expertise
On 20 April 2017, CERiM had the pleasure of welcoming a number of key experts and practitioners from several academic and professional backgrounds such as law, political philosophy, and political science to the Second Annual Conference, which took place the Crowne Plaza in Maastricht. The title and theme of the Conference, “Contestation of Expertise in the European Union: Policy-making between evidence-based decision-making and post-truth politics” was inspired by some of the major developments in 2016, such as Brexit and the US elections, and the ambiguous role and place of expertise in contemporary policy-making. The overarching aim of the Conference was to examine the role and position of expertise and experts in the EU context of law and policy-making and offer a response from a multi-disciplinary perspective, drawn from a variety of national and international experiences. The conference was organized by CERiM research coordinators Vigjilenca Abazi and Johan Adriaensen.
The Conference consisted of three panels and ended with a roundtable discussion. In the first panel, Epistemic and Public Contestation of Expertise, Marija Bartl presented on “Governing Through Knowledge: An Institutionalist Account” and Johan Christensen gave a case-study analysis on “Advisory Commission, Academic Expertise and Democratic Legitimacy: The Case of Norway”. The panel was chaired by Anna Herranz-Surralles, with Johan Adriaensen as the discussant.
The second panel, Political Contestation of Expertise, kicked off with another case-study analysis, this time on the “Functioning and Role of Experts and Expertise in EU Policy-Making: The Case of the EEAS”. In her ongoing research with Tannelie Blom, Sophie Vanhoonacker presented her current findings and welcomed the crowd’s feedback. Following up on the examination of EU agencies and their relationship with experts and expertise, Michelle Everson and Ellen voice gave a joint presentation on the politicization of EU agencies. The panel was chaired by Aneta Spendzharova, with Esther Versluis as the discussant.
On the panel’s topic of Legal Contestation of Expertise, Mariolina Antonio and Marjan Peeters examined how scientific knowledge is used in environmental litigation in EU courts; Lukasz Gruszczynski looked at the WTO’s science-based measures from an EU law perspective; and Alesssandra Acurri explored how scientific knowledge on glyphosate is appropriated by various organizations to challenge the current legal position on its safety. The panel was chaired by Vigjilenca Abazi, followed up by a brief presentation by Arjen Meij (former Judge in the General Court of the EU) before the discussion and question-and-answer round.
The final activity for the day before the reception was a roundtable moderated by Ellen Vos. Luc Soete, Tannelie Blom, Anthony Teasdale, and Arjen Meij offered their views on the role of expertise in EU policy-making. The event was well-attended, with a mix of researchers and students taking part in the discussions. A full report on the event can be found here. There are plans for the contributions from the speakers to be published in an edited volume.