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Law, Hope and the European Union

Law, Hope and the European Union

Speakers: Professor Imelda Maher, MRIA - University College Dublin

This is an in-person event and we warmly welcome all with an interest. A lunch will follow shortly after the lecture.


In this seminar, I explore the relationship between law and hope taking the European Union (EU) as my case study. The question I am posing is to what extent can law provide a framework within which individual hope can be (a) realised, (b) be collectivised to a group(s), and (c) aligned with societal values as articulated in foundational legal texts? The legal context for this analysis is EU Law, in particular the aspirational nature of the treaties as foundational texts. The treaties like most state constitutions, contain preambles that are strongly aspirational, while the assertion of EU rights and access to the CJEU may allow realisation of hopes. This is the first step in a wider project addressing the relationship between law and hope. The paper first explores what is hope.; how hope differs from optimism, what is the opposite of hope. In doing so, it mainly relies on the literature on the psychology of hope and by referring to the recognition of the right to hope in ECHR case law (in relation to life imprisonment). It then turns to the EU as an aspirational project before and the extent to which hope is/is not reflected in its foundational texts.

Speaker bio

Professor Imelda Maher, MRIA is the Sutherland Full Professor of European Law and Director of the UCD Dublin European Institute. She is also a former Dean of Law (Sept 2017-Sept 2021). She is interested in the relationship between law and governance and has published extensively on competition law and EU governance. Her recent work includes a monograph on treaty ratification in the EU (with Dermot Hodson), a series of articles on implementation of EU Law in Irish courts (with Rónán Riordan, Barry Rodger and Neža Šubic) and she is currently working on a monograph on international competition law (with Marek Martyniszyn). Elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2011, she is currently Senior Vice-President since 2023. She was the first Irish woman to become President of the Society of Legal Scholars of the UK and Ireland (2016-2017), the largest scholarly society of common law lawyers in Europe. Prof Maher was general editor of Legal Studies (2012-2017), is a member of the editorial advisory board of European Law Open, The European Law Review and The Irish Yearbook of International Law and serves on the Advisory Board of the Cambridge Centre for European Legal Studies and of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition. She was elected an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple London in 2019 and is a founding member of the European Law Institute, Vienna. She served on the UCD Governing Authority from 2013-2019 and was a member of the National University of Ireland Senate from 2017-2022. She was also Academic Director for the UCD Sutherland School of Law building project which opened in 2013.

She previously held posts at the London School of Economics; the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (where she was Director of the Centre for Competition and Consumer Policy); Birkbeck College, University of London; and Warwick University. She has held fellowships, visiting or adjunct appointments at The Europe Centre, Australian National University; The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London; Lund University, Sweden; Loyola University School of Law, Chicago; Notre Dame Law School (London); Peking University School of Transnational Law; and Sydney University School of Law. In 2008 she gave the prestigious general course lectures on economic law and governance at the Academy of European Law, European University Institute, Florence and in 2022 she was the Senior Emile Noel Global Fellow at New York University School of Law.
Professor Maher is a graduate of UCD (BCL), holds an LLM from Temple University and a Barrister-at-Law degree from the Kings Inns. She is interested in supervising PhD students in the fields of EU law, of EU Law and Governance and Competition Law.

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