Veerle Heyvaert

Veerle Heyvaert

Administrative support: Karen Williams
Room: New Academic Building 7.06
Tel. 020-7955-6492
Twitter: @vmlheyvaert

Veerle Heyvaert is an Associate Professor (Reader). She teaches environmental law and European law. She has an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (It). In 1998-1999, she was the inaugural Sir Peter North Fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Keble College, Oxford. She has published extensively on issues of transnational environmental law and risk regulation, including recent articles on the emergence of hybrid norms in the European Journal of International Law (2009) and the globalisation of chemicals regulation in the Journal of Law and Society (2009).

see also Veerle Heyvaert's LSE Experts page


Research Interests

Current research interest cover international environmental law and questions of compliance with international commitments, new developments in European environmental law, and in particular the reform of the EU regulatory framework for chemicals control.

External Activities
Selected articles
and chapters in books

'The Transnationalisation of Law: Rethinking Law Through Transnational Environmental Regulation' LSE Law Society and Economy Working Paper Series, 04-2016

This working paper argues that the rise of transnational regulation has a transformative impact on law. It examines the field of transnational environmental regulation to show that its proliferation challenges the continued appropriateness of representations of law as: (i) territorial, (ii) emanating from the state, (iii) composed of a public and private sphere, (iv) constitutive and regulatory in function, and (v) cohesive and regimented. Instead, law is increasingly perceived as (i) delocalised, (ii) flowing from a plurality of sources, (iii) organisationally inchoate, (iv) reflexive and coordinating in function, and (v) polycentric. Together, these shifts in perception amount to a transformation that the paper identifies as the transnationalisation of law. The paper then explores three responses to the transnationalisation of law. It distinguishes responses motivated by a desire to reclaim the traditional conception of law from those that seek to reconstruct law at the transnational level and, thirdly, responses that advocate a context-responsive reconceptualisation of law. Each response, it will be shown, creates a different set of opportunities for and challenges to the relevance of law for transnational regulation.

(with Justine Thornton and Richard Drabble) 'With Reference to the Environment: The Preliminary Reference Procedure, Environmental Decisions and the Domestic Judiciary' (2014) 130 (July)  LQR pp.413-442

Relatively few UK judges refer questions on the interpretation of EU environmental law to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The reluctance of the judiciary in this regard appears to stem in large part from concerns about, firstly, the long delay introduced by the reference procedure, secondly, the variable quality of ECJ rulings and, thirdly, the hierarchical nature of its interactions with the ECJ. However, the dearth of references jeopardises the effectiveness of European Union law and, arguably, the quality of domestic adjudication.
    The most obvious response to this problem would be to incentivise or compel national judges to make more references. Doing so, however, would exacerbate a countervailing but equally pressing problem. The ECJ already has more work than it can comfortably handle. The experience from the environmental field therefore lends further credence to growing calls for ECJ judicial reform.
    The article invites the ECJ and the EU Treaty makers to re-think the preliminary reference procedure so that its supportive and emancipatory features are emphasised and its formalistic, bureaucratic and overbearing tendencies suppressed. Irrespective of European wide reform, the article suggests there are steps that the domestic judiciary could take to improve the preliminary reference procedure.

‘What's in a Name? The Covenant of Mayors as Transnational Environmental Regulation (pages 78–90); Vol 22(1) RECIEL (2013).

This article asks whether the Covenant of Mayors – a transnational network that aims to reduce CO2 emissions in European towns and cities – amounts to transnational environmental regulation. It answers in the affirmative. The relevance of treating the Covenant of Mayors as transnational environmental regulation is that this triggers qualitative expectations about how decision-making power will be wielded within the network. The article indicates that the Covenant is likely to clear some of these qualitative hurdles, but may struggle with others. This calls for further deliberation on how to bolster the legitimacy of transnational environmental regulation without forsaking its flexibility and innovative drive. Considering that the outlook for the swift, successful adoption of a global, binding regulatory regime for climate change is bleak, the world will likely remain dependent on alternative, transnational initiatives as drivers for change. The ramifications of this debate therefore considerably exceed the scope of the Covenant of Mayors itself.

'Regulatory Competition - Accounting For the Transnational Dimension of Environmental Regulation' Journal of Environmental Law (2012) 25 (1)  pp.1-31

This article argues that the study of regulatory competition can be significantly enhanced by taking into account the impact of transnational environmental law and regulation. The rapid growth of environmental regulation beyond the level of the state does not foreclose opportunities for competition, but it will affect how environmental regulators compete. Most importantly, national as well as non-state regulators may become less inclined to ‘race to the bottom’ or ‘race to the top’. Instead, transnational environmental regulation triggers the emergence of new competitive patterns that respond more strongly to the design, mode of instrumentalisation, implementation and governance of environmental standards than to their quantity and stringency.

‘Introducing Transnational Environmental Law’ (2012) 1(1) Transnational Environmental Law, pp. 1-11 (with Thijs Etty)

'Governing Climate Change. Towards a New Paradigm for Risk Regulation' (2011) 74:6 The Modern Law Review, pp. 817-844

This article argues that the ascent of climate change on the EU regulatory agenda signals a new era of risk regulation and calls for the establishment of a new paradigm for risk regulation. Climate change is altering the EU's conception of environmental risks and its design of regulatory responses. In contrast to conventional risk regulation, climate change regulation must prioritise the risks of business-as-usual over the risks of change, must target systemic change instead of stability, and must favour the virtues of integration and orchestration over those of individualisation and compartmentalisation. There is an important role for risk regulation scholarship to analyse this shift and its consequences for regulation, such as the relocation of legitimacy needs and the emergence of new risks of regulatory failure. Such an enterprise would both reinvigorate risk regulation scholarship and offer a vital contribution to the European Union as it tackles the momentous challenge of climate change governance.

'Aarhus to Helsinki: Participation in Environmental Decision-Making on Chemicals' Chapter 7 of Interactions and Tensions between Conventional International Law and EU Environmental Law  (Europa : 2011)

'Regulating Chemical Risk: REACH in a Global Governance Perspective' in Regulating Chemical Risks, European and Global Challenges, Eriksson, Johan; Gilek, Michael; Rudén, Christina (eds.) (Springer : 2010)

This important contribution to the scientific understanding of chemical risk regulation offers a coherent, comprehensive and updated multidisciplinary analysis, written by leading experts in toxicology, ecotoxicology, risk analysis, media and communication, law, and political science.

'Levelling Down, Levelling Up, and Governing Across: Three Responses to Hybridization in International Law' European Journal of International Law 2009 20(3):647-674

This article investigates developed countries' financial and technical assistance commitments under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. It shows that their organization is secured through the establishment of a hybrid implementation network, involving the cooperation of state and transnational actors, and argues that institutional hybridization affects the quality and status of treaty norms. The norms defy a classification into either hard or soft law, but contain elements of both. Institutional and normative hybridization is at once a productive response to the emergence of global risks, and a source of new challenges. The article identifies the diffusion of accountability, the complication of enforcement, and the dilution of the communicative role of international law as challenges flowing from hybridization, and develops three responses: 'levelling down', which emphasizes the contractual nature of international agreements; ‘levelling up’, which strengthens state accountability; and 'governing across', which constitutionalizes the transnational actors in the implementation network. The advantages and drawbacks of each response are reviewed, and suggestions for reform developed. 

'Globalizing regulation: reaching beyond the borders of chemical safety'  Journal of Law and Society 2009, 36(1), 110-128.

This article argues that although globalization can benefit both exporters and importers of regulation in absolute terms, it may turn the globalization of regulation into a game with relative winners and losers. Using the EU REACH Regulation of chemicals as a case study, it explores the normative, social, economic, and strategic reasons that push the EU to promote the global adoption of REACH. Notwithstanding its attractions, rules globalization may result in a mismatch between global norms and local priorities, particularly for developing countries. It reduces regulatory diversity, and amplifies the strengths but equally the weaknesses of the dominant regulatory framework. While it can foster international trade through mutual recognition of regulatory decisions and the development of transnational regulatory frameworks, it increases the likelihood of conflict and trade flow desequilibria. The article calls for further careful consideration of rules globalization, so that harmonization does not come at the expense of local interests and values.

'The EU’s Chemicals Policy: Towards Inclusive Governance?' in E. Vos, European Risk Governance: Its Science,Its Inclusiveness and Its Effectiveness (CONNEX book series, Mannheim); first published as 'The EU’s Chemicals Policy: Towards Inclusive Governance?' (LSE Law Department Working Paper, March 2008)

'No Data, No Market. The Future of EU Chemicals Control under the REACH Regulation' Vol. 9 Environmental Law Review, pp. 201-206

“Overleven in het Europees gemeenschapsrecht: het voorzorgsbeginsel tussen integratie en identiteitsverlies” (“Surviving in European Community Law: the precautionary principle between integration and identity loss”) SEW Tijdschrift voor Europees en Economisch Recht (Issue 9), pp. 306-315 (approx. 8500 w)

'Facing the Consequences of the Precautionary Principle in European Community Law' Vol. 31 European Law Review (2006, Issue 2), 185-207

This essay gauges the impact of the precautionary principle on Community decisions. To this end it reviews, first, judicial challenges of EC decisions accused of being insufficiently precautionary (“insufficient precaution” challenges), and, second, challenges arguing that the scrutinised decision is overly precautionary (“excessive precaution” challenges). The analysis indicates that it is prohibitively difficult for a private party to mount a successful “insufficient precaution” challenge. The positive trust-enhancing effect of the precautionary principle is negligible. The review of “excessive precaution” challenges illustrates the Courts’ struggle simultaneously to validate broad discretion in decision-making and guarantee the substantive quality of precautionary decisions. The essay posits that current attempts to reconcile these two objectives create confusion, and may erode the credibility of decision-making. To avert this, and to strengthen the principle’s positive trust-enhancing effect, the Community must openly acknowledge the institutional empowerment that the precautionary principle entails, and devise a strategy to counterbalance it.

'Guidance Without Constraint: Assessing the Impact of the Precautionary Principle on the European Community’s Chemicals Policy' Vol 6. Yearbook of European Environmental Law (2006), 27-60

Yearbook of European Environmental Law - cover

The Yearbook of European Environmental Law brings together topical analyses of contemporary European Environmental Law. Leading European and American academics provide in-depth scholarly articles covering a wide range of challenging issues. The Yearbook contains an easily accessible Annual Survey providing legal practitioners, academics, and policy-makers with detailed and indispensable information on current and future European environmental law. In addition the Yearbook features summaries and full texts of preparatory commission documents, green books, and other discussion papers, as well as a selection of reviews of books.

'Codificazione e centralizzazione da un punto di vista inglese' in D. De Carolis, E. Ferrari & A. Police (eds.), L’ambiente e l’attivita amministrativa (Milano, Giuffre, 2006)

'Codification and Centralisation of Environmental Law: a UK Perspective' Rivista Italiana di Diritto Pubblico Comunitario (2005, Issue 5)

'Wie wordt er wijzer van. Enige bedenkingen bij het recht op toegang tot milieu-informatie' ('Who is any wiser? Pondering the right of access to environmental information') in Christine Larssen, Dix ans d’access a l’information en matiere d’environnment en droit international, europeen et interne. Bilan et Perspectives. Actes du colloque organise par l’Association Belge du Droit de l’Environnement et l’ULB (Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2003), 17-33

'Trade and the Environment: Proportionality Substituted?', Vol. 13 Journal of Environmental Law (2001, Issue 3), 392-407

Free movement of goods-National general prohibition on the use of trichloroethylene-Article 30 EC Treaty (ex Article 36)-EU chemicals policy-risk assessment and management

'Institutions for Regulating Risk', with Stephen Breyer, in Richard B. Stewart, Richard L. Revesz & Philippe Sands (eds.), Environmental Law, the Economy and Sustainable Development (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 283-352

This book provides a comparative analysis of environmental regulation in multi-jurisdictional legal and political systems, focusing on the United States, the European Union, and the international community. Each of these systems must deal with environmental interdependencies that cross local borders. Some transjurisdictional environmental problems are global, including stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, and the loss of biodiversity. Other environmental problems, however, are localised in their effect on health and the environment: for example, municipal waste disposal, many forms of pollution and resource development, and drinking water quality. These varying jurisdictional and environmental circumstances pose the central question of how responsibility for addressing different environmental problems should be allocated among the different levels of decision making and implementation in a multi-jurisdictional system.