Separation of powers for 21st century Europe (SepaRope)

Separation of Powers

SepaRope is the first empirically-grounded and comparative project rethinking the theory and practices of Separation of powers in the present-day European Union. It addresses the core of ‘democratic governance in a turbulent age.’ Separation of powers, the classic model of decision-making, entrusts different state functions to other branches (legislative, executive, judiciary) and serves the double purpose of ensuring collective will-formation and control of those in power. However, the polyarchic and multilevel nature of the EU is not easily reconciled with the separation-of-powers model, either at the EU or national level.

The SepaRope Project

SepaRope demonstrates in combined horizontal and vertical inquiries 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 the EU decision-making is controversial, rights-sensitive, and illustrative of recent power shifts.

Five working packages

The project is built on five working packages. Working package 1 develops a joint conceptual framework for identifying and examining will-formation and control structures. WP 2-4 conducts autonomous but interlinked empirical and legal-analytical studies of the three branches in the three policy fields, exposing ever-increasing ‘grey areas’ of diffuse, ring-fenced, and informalized public power. WP2-4 demonstrates the three branches’ mutually constitutive nature and contingency of power shifts. WP 5 makes concrete innovative, and practically viable suggestions to EU and national institutional actors on how will-formation and control structures can be strengthened in the polyarchic and multilevel EU. Stakeholders are involved as interviewees and participants.


Project Leader:
Professor Dr. Christina Eckes, University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (the Netherlands)

Prof. Dr. Christina Eckes is a professor of European law at the University of Amsterdam and director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG). She is also a member of the Governing Board of Amsterdam Centre of European Studies (ACES) and one of the theme 'Europe in the World' leaders. Her current research interests are the legal limits to European integration, separation of powers within the European Union, and sovereignty in 21st century Europe.

Principal Investigator:
Professor Dr. Anna Wallerman Ghavanini, University of Gothenburg and Centre for European Research (Sweden)

Prof. Dr. Anna Wallerman is a senior lecturer in procedural law and an associate professor of EU law at the University of Gothenburg. She has previously worked at the European University Institute and the University of Zurich and has been a visiting professor at the universities of Vienna and Bern. Anna is an expert on issues of civil process and EU law. Her research interests lie in the borderland between the European and national courts. She is particularly interested in judicial decision-making and the role that courts and judges can and should play in modern democracies. Anna coincides with the procedural law group at the Department of Law at the University of Gothenburg.

Principal Investigator:
Professor Dr. Päivi Leino-Sandberg, University of Helsinki (Finland)

Prof. Dr. Päivi Leino-Sandberg LL.D., LL.M. (with distinction, London School of Economics) is Professor of Transnational European Law, University of Helsinki and Director of its Master’s Programme in Global Governance Law. She is Deputy Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, where she currently leads or acts as PI for four international research projects (SepaRope, Indigo, RECONNECT, and 2035LEGITIMACY). Her main research interests relate to EU decision-making, the use of legal and other expertise, and questions of democratic governance. She specializes in EU institutional and constitutional law, with a primary focus on European administrative law, Economic and Monetary Union, and EU external relations, publishing in leading academic outlets in her field, and frequently engages in multidisciplinary work.

Dr. Laurens Ankersmit, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Dr. Laurens Ankersmit is Assistant Professor of European Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on environmental aspects of international and European economic law. In 2017 he published the book Green Trade and Fair Trade in and with the EU: Process-based Measures within the EU Legal Order with Cambridge University Press. This book is about regulating green and fair trade products on the EU internal market and extraterritorial aspects of market liberalization and regulation. He defended his Ph.D. in 2015 at VU University Amsterdam. In addition, he worked as a legal advisor at ClientEarth on European trade policy, notably about the EU’s negotiations with Canada and the United States on CETA and TTIP, respectively. Laurens Ankersmit is the founder and editor of the European Law Blog.

Dr. Nik de Boer, Amsterdam Law School (the Netherlands)

Dr. Nik de Boer is Assistant Professor in Constitutional Law at the Amsterdam Law School. His research focuses on constitutional law, EU law, and political theory. In 2018 he received his Ph.D. degree cum laude from the University of Amsterdam. His doctoral thesis 'Judging European Democracy' was awarded the Dissertation Prize of the Dutch Association of Constitutional Law and offered a systematic analysis of how we should assess the democratic legitimacy of the national constitutional courts' review of European law. In addition, Nik held visiting positions at the European Court of Justice, Harvard Law School, and the Center for Global Constitutionalism WZB, Berlin Social Science Centre. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for Contemporary European Studies (ACCESS EUROPE) and Assistant Professor at the Department of Private Law of the Amsterdam Law School. There, he taught financial law and was the academic coordinator of the Master in Law and Finance and the Faculty’s Ph.D. program. In addition, Nik studied Law (LLB, cum laude, LLM in Legal Research, cum laude) and Philosophy (BA, cum laude) at Utrecht University and the University of Cambridge. For his Master Thesis Constitutional Identity, Fundamental Rights and the Issue of Divergent Rights Standards in the EU, he received the Prize for Best Master Thesis of Utrecht University in 2012 and the Max van der Stoel Human Rights Award.

Dr. Davide Gnes, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Dr. Davide Gnes is a post-doctoral researcher at ACELG in the project “Separation of Powers for 21st Century Europe” (SepaRope). He holds a Ph.D. in political science (2018) from the University of Amsterdam. His doctoral research examined coalition-building, organizational strategies, and legitimacy amongst migrant advocacy organizations in Los Angeles, California. Davide also obtained an Erasmus Mundus MSc in International Migration and Social Cohesion (Universities of Amsterdam, Bilbao, Lima, and Riga) and an MA in International Relations and BA in Political Science, both from the University of Pavia, Italy. Before this position, Davide was a policy advisor on EU migration and development policy in Brussels. He also worked and interned for many other NGOs in Jordan, Spain, and Denmark on migration and international development issues.

Piotr Krajewski, Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (the Netherlands)

Piotr Krajewski is a Ph.D. Researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG). His research develops a normative framework of the separation of powers based on constitutional theory and examines through its lens the procedure for negotiation and conclusion of EU trade agreements. Supervisors of Piotr’s thesis are Professor Christina Eckes (Professor of European Law, Director of the ACELG) and Professor Chantal Mak (Professor of Private Law). Piotr holds an LL.M. degree from the College of Europe, Bruges (Master of European Law), a Master’s Degree in Law, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from the University of Warsaw. In addition, he completed traineeships at the Polish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Department of International Law) and the European Commission Representation Office in Warsaw.

Professor Dr. Annette Schrauwen, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Prof. Dr. Annette Schrauwen holds a chair of European Integration, in particular citizenship law and history, at the University of Amsterdam. She graduated in European Studies at the University of Amsterdam, where she also defended her Ph.D. thesis on the internal market concept in European law. She is editor of Legal Issues of Economic Integration. At present, she is Programme Director of the Master’s International and European law. The main focus of the research of Annette Schrauwen is on the concept of Union citizenship. Current research projects include the influence of Brexit on EU citizenship, the empowerment and activation of citizens in EU discourse, electoral rights for EU citizens, citizenship in Association Treaties, and the relationship between citizenship, nationality, and loyalty. The research of Annette Schrauwen is embedded in the research program of the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG).

Professor Dr. Maria Weimer, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

Prof. Dr. Maria Weimer is an associate professor of EU law and regulation at the Law Faculty of the University of Amsterdam and a senior researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG) and the interdisciplinary Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES). In addition, she represents the Amsterdam Law School as a member of the Amsterdam Young Academy, an independent, interdisciplinary platform of 30 talented researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit. They work together to represent young researchers in science policy better and build bridges between science and society in Amsterdam. Before joining UvA, Maria Weimer worked as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at the Department of International and European Law of Maastricht University (2011-2013). She holds a Ph.D. from the European University Institute in Florence. She is the author of a monograph with Oxford University Press titled "Risk Regulation in the EU Internal Market – Lessons from Agricultural Biotechnology" and the deputy editor-in-chief of the European Journal of Risk Regulation published with Cambridge University Press. Working at the interface of law, social and political sciences, and studies of governance and regulation, Maria Weimer has extensive experience in interdisciplinary collaboration.

Dr. Maarten den Heijer, Amsterdam Center for International Law (the Netherlands)

Dr. Maarten den Heijer is an assistant professor of international law at the Amsterdam Center for International Law. He is vice-chairman of the Meijers Committee and deputy judge at the court of Utrecht. He is a member of the caselaw journal European Human Rights Cases (EHRC) editorial board of the Netherlands Yearbook of International Law. He is also a member of the Foundation for Refugee Students UAF board. Maarten den Heijer previously worked as a policy officer for the Dutch Refugee Council and a legislative lawyer for the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. He holds degrees in Law and Political Science from the University of Leiden, where he also received his Ph.D. (cum laude).


Dr. Marta Morvillo, Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (Netherlands)

Dr. Marta Morvillo is a constitutional lawyer interested in the interaction between technical and democratic legitimacy and the role of experts and technical knowledge in constitutionally relevant decision-making processes. Her broader research interests include domestic and EU constitutional law and governance. Marta holds a Ph.D. in Constitutional law from the University of Bologna, an LL.M. in Public law and global governance from King’s College London, and a law degree cum laude from the University of Bologna.

Martin Westlund, University of Gothenburg (Sweden)

Martin Westlund is a doctoral student in the EU law at the University of Gothenburg. He studies the role and impact of the European Court of Justice in EU migration law.

Dr. Allison Östlund, University of Gothenburg (Sweden)

Dr. Allison Östlund is a lecturer at the School of Public Administration of the University of Gothenburg. Her main research areas are EU and procedural law. Her primary research topic is ex officio review as a proxy for procedural justice for vulnerable litigants in a Swedish and European context.

Hannes Lenk, University of Aarhus (Denmark)

Hannes Lenk is an assistant professor of the law at the University of Aarhus and a member of the Centre for European Research (CERGU). His research focuses on the EU as a global actor and, in particular, EU foreign investment and trade policy.

Dr. Milka Sormunen, University of Helsinki (Finland)

Dr. Milka Sormunen works at the University of Helsinki. Her expertise includes constitutional law, human rights law, and European law, focusing on the rights and legal status of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, especially children and migrants. Her doctoral thesis, which she defended in March 2021, addresses the concept of the best interests of the child in human rights practice. The thesis builds on empirical analysis of Finnish, European and international case law from the perspective of constitutional and human rights law. Her current research concerns transparency and separation of powers in EU migration law and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic from the rule of law perspective. In addition, she continues to study themes related to constitutional law, human rights law, and children’s rights. She is also interested in the relationship between climate change and human rights and empirical and socio-legal approaches to law. She teaches European law and constitutional law.

Dr. Maarten Hillebrandt, University of Helsinki (Finland)

Dr. Maarten Hillebrandt is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, where he is involved in a research project on the transparency of EU decision-making. He specializes in EU institutional law and politics and has published on government transparency policy and theory in and beyond the EU. He has previously held positions at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, and the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG), University of Amsterdam. In addition, he has been a visiting fellow at the Research Centre for the Analysis of Governance and Public Policy in Europe (LAGAPE), University of Lausanne, and the Centre for European Research (CERGU), Gothenburg University. In 2017, he defended a dissertation on the historical development of the access to documents policy of the Council of the EU at the University of Amsterdam. This dissertation was subsequently awarded the annual Van Poelje Prize for the best dissertation in public administration in the Netherlands and Flanders. Maarten’s research interests include the policy and politics of information, transparency theory, EU institutional politics, socio-legal research, and informality.

Professor Dr. Daniel Naurin, University of Oslo (Norway)

Prof. Dr. Daniel Naurin is a Professor of Political Science and Director of ARENA. In addition, he is affiliated with PluriCourts and the Department of Public and International Law at the University of Oslo and with the departments of political science at the universities of Oslo and Gothenburg. Naurin has held positions and visited fellowships at the European University Institute (Florence), Emory University (Atlanta), Monash European Centre (Melbourne), Sussex European Institute (Brighton), and the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (Stockholm). He is presently elected member of the executive committee of the American Political Science Association (APSA) Law and Courts Section, the Steering Committee of the Standing Group on Law and Courts of the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR), and the Steering Committee of the Standing Group on the European Union (SGEU) of the ECPR. Daniel Naurin has worked with a broad range of research themes during his academic career, including judicial politics, lobbying, transparency, and international negotiations. Much of his empirical work has focussed on the politics of the European Union. His ongoing and most recent projects study judicial decision-making in the Court of Justice of the EU, the Swedish Supreme Court, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; coalition building and the impact of gender in the negotiations in the Council of the EU; and the link between lobbying and public opinion in Europe.

Professor Dr. René Repasi, Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands)

Prof. Dr. René Repasi has been a Professor of Public and Private Interests at Erasmus University Rotterdam since January 2021 and acing as vice-head of the Department of International and European Union Law of Erasmus School of Law. Furthermore, he is director of the Erasmus Centre for Economic and Financial Governance, a multidisciplinary research center by Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) and Erasmus School of Law. Previously, he held the position of Associate Professor of International and European Union Law and was Scientific Coordinator of the European Research Centre for Economic and Financial Governance (EURO-CEFG) of the Universities of Leiden, Delft, and Rotterdam since November 2014. Before his appointment at EURO-CEFG in November 2014, he used to work as Research Assistant at the Institute for German and European Corporate and Economic LawOpent extern of Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg at the chair of Professor Peter-Christian Müller-Graff and as a lecturer for EU law at the University for Applied Sciences in Fulda (Germany). René Repasi studied law at the Universities of Heidelberg and Montpellier I. During his legal clerkship, he used to work for the European Commission and at the European Court of Justice in the cabinet of Advocate General Prof. Dr. Juliane Kokott. He holds a Ph.D. on '  The Impact of the Supremacy of Union law on the Private International law of the Member States from the University of Heidelberg. Professor Repasi was appointed as legal expert in hearings and for consultancy at the European Parliament on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) as well as on questions relating to institutional and constitutional matters of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) at the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (AFCO) and on "Brexit" at the German Bundestag. The Brussels-based think tank "Centre for European Policy Studies" (CEPS) nominated him for its High-Level Group on EU Institutional Reforms. He acted, furthermore, as legal adviser for the chapter on EMU in the proposal of a 'Fundamental Law of the European UnionOpent extern' by the Spinelli Group for a new Treaty for the EU. His research interests revolve around legal matters relating to economic and financial governance, banking regulation, constitutional and institutional implications of EMU. René Repasi teaches at the Erasmus School of Law (ESL) and is involved as a case drafter and judge in the regional finals of the European Law Moot CourtOpent extern competition.

Dr. Florin Coman-Kund, Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands)

Dr. Florin Coman-Kund is an Assistant Professor in European Union Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. He has conducted extensive research on international and constitutional legal aspects of the Union’s external administrative action and actors across various policy areas such as police cooperation, EU external border management, and aviation safety. Florin is currently focusing on multilevel and multi-actor regulatory/expertise-based decision-making processes in the context of the rule of law and on vertical and shared enforcement of EU law in various policy areas such as migration, cross-border crime, financial, and banking supervision, aviation safety. Furthermore, he is increasingly pursuing legal research in context by using empirical methods and case study research and integrating legal approaches with insights from other fields such as political science, public administration, and argumentation theory. Florin is an associate researcher of the Academic Research Network on Agencification of EU Executive Governance (TARN), an associate scholar of the Maastricht Centre for European Law (MCEL), member of the Ius Commune Research School, and member of the Financial Risk and Stability Network (FSRN). In addition, Florin has been regularly lecturing on various topics related to EU law and public law to undergraduate and advanced students in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Romania. Florin completed the LL.M. Programme ‘International and European Law’ at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his Ph.D. degree with the dissertation “European Union Agencies as Global Actors. A Legal Study of the European Aviation Safety Agency, Frontex and Europol” at Maastricht University. Routledge has published a monograph based on his Ph.D. dissertation in 2018.