Call for Papers: Annual EU Law and Policy Conference

Annual EU Law and Policy Conference: EU Law in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Theme Description

The technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (i.e. digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, gene editing) set important challenges for policy makers and pre-existing legal frameworks globally, opening the prospect of cataclysmic changes in the not too distant future. These touch upon all aspects of social life, from issues of employment and intellectual creation, or more generally the creation of resources, to new modes of data and AI-driven governance, and will affect multiple environments reaching from the streets and hospitals to the battlefield.

The EU and EU law in particular have been increasingly engaging with the enforcement of existing legal rules and the design of new legal rules with the aim to mitigate the risks arising from these new technologies, or in order to promote the EU as an important global player in the new industrial age. This dual role of the EU as a global regulator of the risks engendered by these technologies and as the facilitator of the emergence of a new ‘Industrial State’ across the Continent has been particularly salient in recent years as the social and economic changes brought by these disruptive technologies unfolded.

For instance, the EU has been actively implementing and re-thinking its competition rules in order to mitigate the risks to competition that may result from the emergence of dominant digital platforms and global data mergers. The EU has taken important initiatives in digital consumer protection and in protecting European democracies from hate speech. It has empowered the data protection of its citizens, thus reshaping the way organisations approach data privacy, and serving as a model for other jurisdictions. Specific initiatives in the regulation of the relation between digital platforms and their suppliers, or in order to protect gig economy workers, illustrate the multi-faceted approach of the EU in ensuring fairness in the new economy. The protection of biodiversity and global environmental commons have also been significant drivers in the way the EU has regulated the new gene editing technologies. Other initiatives include that of the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament which proposed the establishment of a European Agency for robotics and artificial intelligence in order to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise, and the setting of common European Union rules to be adopted on a voluntary basis to regulate issues of liability for the social, environmental and human health impacts of robotics eventually also considering the creation of a specific legal status for robots as ‘electronic persons’.

In addition to its traditional regulatory role, the EU has been making efforts to enable the technological transformation of the EU economy and to re-vamp the industrial potential of the Continent. The slow emergence of this EU ‘Industrial State’ takes different forms. Some construct on the market integration rationale of the EU with the constitution of a Digital Single market, involving a great array of initiatives, such as adapting company law to the digital era, reforming copyright rules and rules enhancing cross-border access to online commerce, designing rules bringing down barriers in e-commerce and concerning the movement of non-personal data. Some others, such as the EU Circular Economy initiative, a new framework for the sharing of non-personal or government-held data and the development of blockchain and Fintech, or in promoting the development of global technology standards, relate more directly to the formulation of the broad contours of a European industrial policy at a time when the EU is falling behind the United States and China in the creation of unicorns, global digital platforms and start-ups. These various initiatives that may be regrouped under the heading of the emergence of an EU Industrial State, show the increasingly important role of the EU in formulating policies that touch upon various areas of regulatory and economic activity and raise interesting questions as to the interaction of the ’augmented’ EU Regulatory ‘State’ and the emergent EU Industrial State with these put in place by the EU Member States, in most cases during the immediate post-Second World War era.

The YEL conference aims to critically explore the synergies and interactions between these various normative activities of the EU and the way technological changes and their socio-economic implications are increasingly shaping EU law and the perception of its role by EU citizens, but also national governments.

More specifically, the conference aims at contextualising the dual role of the EU as a Regulatory and Industrial ‘State’. The aim is to stimulate a debate between speakers and participants on how these various initiatives that seem, at first glance, disconnected and very much ad hoc, may indeed constitute a new step in the EU integration project, in which the EU combines its traditional role of establishing an EU-wide order that would preserve the rule of law, the Single market and the European Social market economy, with that of promoting disruptive innovation and the global competitiveness of the EU as a global industrial player.

The conference aims to have an inter-disciplinary character. Apart from contributions based on doctrinal legal analysis, submissions engaging with law and technology or law and economics are particularly welcome.

Submission of abstracts and papers

Interested researchers are invited to submit DRAFT PAPERS or EXTENDED ABSTRACTS (minimum of 8 pages) no later than September 8th, 2019. Abstracts and papers should be written in English and indicate the precise topic and a clear description of the content of the contribution. Please also include a short CV.

Submissions should be sent to [SUBJECT MATTER: YEL ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2019].

The proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis by the conference committee and selected reviewers. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of the selection procedure by October 7th 2019.

Authors of selected papers will then have until December 15th, 2019 to submit their papers for the conference. The organisers retain the right to exclude a paper that does not meet the quality requirements set for the conference.

The conference will be held in January 2020. Accepted papers will be considered for publication by the YEL editorial board.

The organisers will take in charge some of the traveling and accommodation expenses of some selected speakers.

The 2019 YEL conference is co-organised and supported by the Centre for Law, Economics and Society (CLES) at UCL Faculty of Laws and Sciences Po, École de Droit

Conference initiator: Ioannis Lianos, Faculty of Laws, UCL & CLES@UCL co-editor YEL & conference co-organiser

Conference Committee

Jean d’Aspremont, Sciences Po Paris conference co-organiser

Loic Azoulai, Sciences Po Paris conference co-organiser

Ioannis Lianos, Faculty of Laws, UCL & CLES@UCL co-editor YEL & conference co-organiser

Albertina Albors Llorens, University of Cambridge co-editor YEL

Hans Micklitz, EUI co-editor YEL

Horatia Muir Watt, Sciences Po Paris conference co-organiser

Robert Schütze, Durham Law School co-editor YEL

Takis Tridimas, Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London co-editor YEL