Floris de Witte

Email: F.E.De-Witte@lse.ac.uk
Administrative support: Stephen Jenner
Room: New Academic Building 7.03
Tel. 020-7955-6737

Floris de Witte is Assistant Professor at the LSE. His research deals with the interaction between EU law and political theory, with particular emphasis on free movement, the Euro-crisis and the role of the individual in the EU. Floris holds a PhD from London School of Economics and Political Science, an LL.M from Cambridge and LL.B from the University of Maastricht. He is co-editor of LSE Law Policy Briefing Papers and an affiliated member of the LSE European Institute.

Research Interests

EU Constitutional, Institutional and Substantive Law; the interaction between EU law and Political Theory.

External Activities

Floris sits on the editorial board of the German Law Journal and the European Law Journal.


Justice in the EU: The Emergence of Transnational Solidarity, Oxford Studies in European Law (OUP, 2015)

In Justice in the EU: The Emergence of Transnational Solidarity, Floris de Witte argues that European Union law can be understood as an instrument for the elaboration of what justice is, means, and requires on the level beyond the nation state. Approaching the question of justice from the European perspective, however, challenges us to think beyond the contractarian idea that equates justice with national political self-determination. A proper model of justice demands a tiered institutional and normative understanding of justice, involving both the nation state and the EU, which can make sense of the new ties between individual citizens that the process of European integration continues to generate. It also requires that we construct a theory of transnational solidarity that can explain what those new ties tell us about our transnational obligations of justice.

This book tackles three issues in turn. It explains which precise institutional and normative structures are indispensable in the pursuit of justice; how the European Union can be understood to increase our capacity for the attainment of justice; and formulates a theory of transnational solidarity that informs the interaction between national and European spheres. Three different types of transnational solidarity are identified and carefully traced throughout the case law of the Court of Justice: market solidarity, communitarian solidarity, and aspirational solidarity. Read together, these three transnational solidarities tell us exactly what justice means in the EU.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'From Balance to Conflict: A New Constitution for the EU' (2016) 22 European Law Journal 204-224 (co-authored with M. Dawson).

Proposes that the post-crisis EU will need a new approach to constitutional law which will reaffirm its core principle of self-determination which forms the basis of its legitimacy.

'Emancipation through EU Law?', in: L. Azoulai, S. Barbou des Places and E. Pataut Ideas of the Person and Personhood in EU law (Hart 2016).

'The Architecture of the “Social Market Economy”', in: P. Koutrakos and J. Snell (eds.), Research Handbook on EU internal market law (Elgar Publishing, forthcoming), also available as LSE Working Paper.

This paper traces the evolution of the nature of the EU’s internal market, from its origin in the 1950s to its current redesign in the aftermath of the Euro-crisis. It suggests that the relationship between ‘the market’ and ‘the social’ has shifted multiple times throughout the Union’s history. In the first stage, social policy was meant to complement the functioning of the internal market, and tease out potential economic asymmetries in the market. In the second stage, social policy became geared not towards levelling out conditions of competition in the market, but to explicitly protect the capacity of Member States to impose their understanding of ‘the social’ on the market. Finally, in the last decade, social policy on the Union level has started to move in the exact opposite direction. The EU’s institutions now understand social policy diversity throughout the EU no longer as a necessary complement for, but rather as inimical to, a functioning market in the EU. In doing so, however, they overlook a number of institutional asymmetries, normative biases and legal implications, which mean that any attempt to create a ‘social market economy’ – as Article 3 (3) TEU commits the EU to do – is bound to be distinctively light on ‘social’ and heavy on ‘market’.

'Cameron's EU reforms: political feasibility and legal implications' LSE Policy Briefing Paper Series, 11/2015

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has set out the priorities for the reform of the relationship between the UK and the EU in the run-up to an in/out referendum in 2016 or 2017. He highlights four priorities, which range from strengthening the Union’s competitiveness to protecting the UK’s interests in areas of market integration, migration and welfare. The extent to which these reforms will be successful depends on the legal structure of these policy areas, and the institutional veto players in the reform process.

(with Mark Dawson) 'Self-Determination in the Constitutional Future of the EU' European Law Journal (2015)

This article analyses three prominent proposals for the functional and political transformation of the EU from a constitutional perspective. It argues that existing EU reform proposals, to varying degrees, entrench rather than reverse the challenges to individual and political self-determination brought about by the EU's response to its Euro crisis. As the article will conclude, challenging ‘authoritarian liberalism' in an EU context may require the development of a constitutional structure for the Union able to contest, rather than set in stone, the EU's existing economic and political goals.

Sex, Drugs & EU Law: The recognition of ethical and moral diversity in Europe’ (2013) 50 Common Market Law Review,  Issue 6 (December 2013) pp. 1545–1578

This contribution traces the interaction between EU law and national norms that express a certain moral, ethical or cultural value. Such values, which might range from drugs policy to the patentability of human cells, and from the consumption of seal meat to abortion, have something important in common: they ascribe a normative quality to a particular type of life, and typically reflect a communal, political understanding of what is "good". Such norms sit uneasily with the ethos of EU law, in so far that the individual rights guaranteed at the European level serve exactly to limit the externalities of this contractarian conception of political self-determination. This contribution traces these different arguments, their interaction, and the three possible scenarios for their resolution or mediation through the Court's case law: (i) direct normative intervention and Europeanization of the contentious moral or ethical choice; (ii) the insulation of national autonomy; or (iii) balancing through either a substantive or procedural version of the principle of proportionality.

‘Union Citizenship and Constrained Democracy’ in A.P. Van der Mei and M. De Visser (eds.) Twenty Years Treaty on European Union: Reflections from Maastricht (Intersentia, 2013)

(with Mark Dawson) 'Constitutional Balance in the EU after the Euro-crisis' Modern Law Review (2013) 76 (5) pp.817-844

'EU law, Politics, and the Social Question’ German Law Journal (2013) 14 (5)

Moritz Hartmann & Floris de Witte, 'Ending the Honeymoon: Constructing Europe Beyond the Market' German Law Journal (2013) 14 (5)

'Who funds the mobile student? Shedding some light on the normative assumptions underlying EU free movement law: Commission v Netherlands.' C.M.L. Rev. 2013, 50(1), 203-215

Comments on the European Court of Justice ruling in European Commission v Netherlands (C-542/09) on whether Dutch arrangements to pay student grants for study abroad contravened EU law because of discrimination against the children of migrant workers, who unlike Dutch national students had to comply with a residence test to qualify for a grant. Contrasts the rights of migrant workers with the more limited rights of migrants who are not economically active, and looks at proposed "homecoming" legislation that students should qualify for grants if they work in home country after graduation.

‘The role of transnational solidarity in mediating conflicts of justice in Europe’ (2012) 18 European Law Journal, p. 694-710.

This contribution analyses the conflicts of justice that are becoming increasingly visible in Europe. It argues that while European Union (EU) law can be understood as an instrument for the incorporation of the demands of justice and the articulation of ‘the good’ beyond the nation state, it also potentially skews the distributive criteria and assumptions of justice that underlie the national welfare state. In light of the absence of a transnational political system that can bound such conflicts of justice, this article suggests that the capacity of the EU to contribute to, rather than detract from, the attainment of justice depends on the careful articulation and institutionalisation of the different types of transnational solidarity that exist in Europe.

‘Bosman: een verloren voetballer en de Europese droom’, in: G. Essers, A.P. Van der Mei and F. Van Overmeiren (eds.), Het vrije verkeer van personen in 60 klassieke arresten (Kluwer, Den Haag, 2012).

‘National Welfare as Transnational Justice?: An Institutional Analysis of the Normative (in)coherence of Europe’s Social Dimension’ in: J. Rutgers (ed.), European Contract Law and the Welfare State, (Europa Law Publishing, Groningen, 2012), p. 15-41.

‘The End of EU citizenship and Means of Non-Discrimination’ (2011) 18 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, p. 86-108

‘The European Judiciary after Lisbon’ (2008) 15 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, p. 43 – 55.