Winner Dissertation Prize 2022
EU Law as a Creative Process. A hermeneutic approach for the EU internal market and fundamental rights protection.
Supervisors: Prof. mr. dr. S.A. de Vries, Prof. mr. dr. A.M.P. Gaakeer, mr. dr. A. van den Brink
Nomination: Utrecht University, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance
Report by the selection committee
This remarkable dissertation, with the intriguing title EU Law as a Creative Process. A hermeneutic approach for the EU internal market and fundamental rights protection, illuminates the law and the creation of jurisprudence with the lantern of literature.
Unlike the vast majority of legal experts, Phoa studies the work of the Court of Justice of the European Union not through its results, the judgements passed, but in a totally different way: as an intellectual journey. Tying in with the work of James Boyd White, the father of the ‘law and literature’ approach already mentioned, and the work of Paul Ricoeur, the French philosopher of hermeneutics, she researches in an original manner the traditions, writing style and way of working, including the rhetorical and narrative customs, of the European Court. Moreover, the study successfully reveals the tensions between narratives that are based on civil rights and those based more on economics and the market.
The book offers a good balance between theoretical reflections and concrete judicial examples, analysed with tremendous precision, of access to social allowances for economically inactive citizens and of the protection of personal data. But the multidisciplinary method developed by Phoa is applicable in many more cases and fields of law.
The jury found this dissertation to be clearly legible and excellently written, in an elegant style, and, because of that, perfectly understandable for non-specialists who make the effort. The form of the book, with its exceptionally artistic cover, reflects its contents: a truly creative process driven by an Erasmian spirit that shines throughout.