Network Conference

Network Conference

8 - 9 September 2022 | Berlin | Umweltforum

Distance & Convergence: re:constituting Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe

Public Conference

featuring Keynote Speeches by


Engage with the re:constitution network!

Taking the re:constitution network as a point of departure, this conference offers the opportunity to discuss the impact of recent - and possibly upcoming - developments across the European Union concerning democracy and the rule of law.

  • How can we safeguard the rule of law by preserving constitutional structures in the EU? 
  • How can we improve cooperation between European actors to promote democracy and the rule of law?
  • How can academia and practice come together to address the increasing challenges on national and EU level?

Join us and meet re:constitution Fellows and alumni, partners and friends to explore these challenges and possible solutions that may well defy the future of democracy and the rule of law in Europe, particularly in the light of the political tensions aggravated by the unprecedented health and security crises which the EU is facing at the moment.

You will be able to get in touch with these programmes, centres and initiatives at the Democracy and Rule of Law Marketplace

re:constitution alumna Neus Vidal Martí will guide through the programme. You may download the poster of the conference here.

Register here!


Thursday | 8 September

All Day | Democracy and Rule of Law Marketplace space with partners and projects, programmes, centres and initiatives working in the field


9:30  Welcome

  • Wolfgang Rohe | Executive Director, Stiftung Mercator
  • Dorit Modersitzki | Programme Coordinator, Forum Transregionale Studien
  • Paul Zoubkov | Programme Manager, Democracy Reporting International

All programme partners and Neus Vidal Martí


Impact of Crisis on Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe        


9:40  Introduction

Laura Stefan | Executive Director, Expert Forum


9:50  A New Dimension of Challenge: The Implications of the War in Ukraine for the Institutional Structure and Values of the EU

Panel & Public Debate with

  • Christophe Hillion | Professor, University of Oslo
  • Roman Petrov | Professor, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
  • Viktoriya Sereda | Director, Prisma Ukraïna: War, Migration and Memory, Forum Transregionale Studien
  • Susann Worschech | Political Sociologist, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)

Chair: Antoaneta Dimitrova | Professor, Leiden University


11:50  Wake-up Calls? Assessing the EU’s Responses to the War in Ukraine and to the COVID 19 Pandemic

Panel & Public Debate with

  • Ana Bobić | Référendaire, Court of Justice of the European Union
  • Peter Van Elsuwege | Professor, University of Ghent
  • Werner Schroeder | Professor, University of Innsbruck

Chair: Corina Stratulat | Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre


13:15  Closing Remarks

Laura Stefan | Executive Director, Expert Forum


14:30  Democracy and Rule of Law Marketplace Hour 

Meet with partners and other projects, programmes, centres and initiatives!


16:00  Keynote

Koen Lenaerts | President, Court of Justice of the European Union

Preserving Constitutional Structures: On the Rule of Law within the European Union

Moderated by Angelika Nussberger | Director, Academy for European Human Rights Protection, University of Cologne, and patron of re:constitution


18:00  Spotlight on re:constitution: Exchange and Debate on Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe

An audiovisual journey with Neus Vidal Martí 


18:30  Stronger Together: Connecting Academia and Practice to Safeguard Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe

Panel & Public Debate with

  • Dimitry Kochenov | Professor, CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest; CEU Department of Legal Studies, Vienna
  • Michael Meyer-Resende | Executive Director, Democracy Reporting International
  • Márta Pardavi | Co-Chair, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Chair: Zuzana Vikarská | Assistant Professor, Masaryk University


19:30  Reception


Friday | 9 September

All Day | Democracy and Rule of Law Marketplace space with partners and projects, programmes, centres and initiatives working in the field



Angelika Nussberger | Director, Academy for European Human Rights Protection, University of Cologne, and patron of re:constitution

Convergence is Key - The Importance of Cooperation between European Actors to Promote Democracy and the Rule of Law

Moderated by László Detre, re:constitution Academic Advisor


10:45  Parallel Sessions | Series 1

  1. ‘Europe of Rights’ or ‘Fortress Europe’? Migration, Asylum and the Rule of Law | A. Jolkina, S. Ganty, B. Grabowska-Moroz, D. Kochenov
    Throughout the second half of 2021, the situation at the EU’s external border with Belarus had continously remained one of the topics dominating the European public and political agenda. For the first time since the development of the asylum acquis, several Member States have adopted long-term, far-reaching and blanket legislative measures that explicitly suspended the right to seek asylum and authorised so-called pushbacks – contrary to their obligations under EU and international human rights law. Against this backdrop, the session will aim to stimulate a broader discussion on the recent developments in the EU in the area of migration and asylum law and their implications for the Rule of Law in Europe.
  2. Anti-liberal Pushback and Workable Solutions: Lessons from Central and Eastern Europe | I. Gruev, A. Wójcik, Z. Vikarská, E. Zgut, D. G. Szabó
    This workshop will draw on the academic and practical expertise of current and incoming re:constitution fellows that work on issues related to anti-liberal pushback, democratic retrenchment, and recurring authoritarian practices in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Its aim will be to establish what platforms, actors, and mechanisms are employed in this region either to facilitate or resist the erosion of rule of law and liberal constitutionalism. In addition to offering comparative ways for understanding the origins, workings and implications of these practices, this workshop will also seek to distill from them lessons and workable solutions for tackling rule of law challenges that could be applied both in and beyond CEE.
  3. The Future of Rule of Law and Democracy in the Age of Artificial Intelligence | Y. Maccanico, D. Reiling, T. Michalakea, E. Turkut, M. Meyer-Resende (Democracy Reporting International)
    This session aims to question the traditional conceptualization of rule of law and explore its reconfiguration from the new space that artificial intelligence is creating. Acknowledging the changing landscape, as well as the ‘threats’ that might result thereof, is crucial for the continuity of the concept itself, and its repercussions for democracy and human rights. Presentations will deal with the ethical and legal boundaries of the AI systems, the challenges and transformations triggered by such systems in relation to the RoL and access to justice and the complexities and risk of their legal regulation in an age of profound technological advancements.
  4. Tailor-made laws – the glad rags of captured parliaments | A. Földes, G. Vurmo
    Tailor-made laws are an under-researched phenomenon of the fields of research concerning state capture, dismantling of rule of law and undermining democracy. This session will provide opportunities to get acquainted with an approach of the analysis of these acts and compare notes on concrete examples of tailor-made laws of several European countries. Come to the tailor’s shop where most spectacular tailor-made laws are to be seen! Bring your own patterns, compare and exchange them with others. See for yourself the latest fashion of state capture and grand corruption in Europe.


13:00  Parallel Sessions | Series 2

  1. The Devil is in the Details-Tracking Rule of Law challenges in Administrative Procedures | T. Fournier, C. Warin
    The legal discussion on the European Rule of Law crisis predominantly adopts a constitutional law perspective – capture of the constitutional courts, manipulation of elections, weakening of the checks and balances – and very often focuses on the usual suspects – Poland and Hungary. We would like to bring into the debate an administrative law perspective. The session will brainstorm over the rule of law challenges in administrative procedures with the view of initiating a more general discussion on this over looked aspect of democratic studies. This brainstorming should also discuss the role of administrative courts in the protection of fundamental rights and rule of law principles and the larger issue of how to trigger such control of administrative acts.
  2. The rule of law in the shadow of war in Ukraine. A multiple scenario imagining exercise | A. Wójcik, S. Panov
    The session aims to allow participants to reflect and evaluate the implications of the current war in Ukraine along with the corresponding act of aggression and unlawful use of force of the Russian Federation on the overall rule of law situation in the European Union and the Council of Europe. The session encourages interdisciplinary perspectives and will concentrate on scenarios-building group exercise.
  3. Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe: Current Challenges before the European Court of Human Rights | designed and hosted by Centre for Fundamental Rights, Hertie School: I. Gruev, E. Turkut, G. Baranowska, J. Finnerty
    What role does the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) play in the unprecedented health, security, and democracy crises that the EU is currently facing? How has the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) responded to the series of local, regional, and global states of emergencies that have been declared in recent years for reasons of political turmoil, public health, and increasing migration? What are the prospects and obstacles for the EC(t)HR to rise to these challenges? This panel will bring together different strands of the ongoing research carried out at the Centre for Fundamental Rights of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin that address these questions.                                                                                                                            
  4. Making the rule of law like football, because who watches chess games? | J. Jaraczewski (Democracy Reporting International) and Molly Quell (Journalist, Courthouse News), Philipp Fritz (Journalist, Die Welt), Jarosław Gwizdak (Legal Advisor, USAID Georgia), Krzysztof Izdebski (Legal Expert, Open Spending EU Coalition and the Stefan Batory Foundation), Silvia Steininger (re:constitution 2022/2023 Fellow, Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg)
    This interactive session will focus on communication on the rule of law and how to make rule of law topics relevant and attractive to the casual public.


14:45  What's next? Keep on re:constituting Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe

Panel & Public Debate with

  • Matej Avbelj | Professor, New University
  • Petra Bárd | Professor, Radboud University, Research Centre for State and Law
  • Monica Claes | Professor, Maastricht University

Chair: Angelika Nussberger | Director, Academy for European Human Rights Protection; patron, re:constitution


16:00  Wrapping up the Conference