Research Interests

EU law, international law, democratization

Background & Qualification

Dr Niels Kirst received his PhD from DCU, having passed his viva in December 2023. He also holds two master’s degrees in European Law from the University of Paris II and Toulouse. In addition, he graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy & Economics from the University of Heidelberg. He has previously worked as a research assistant at the German Parliament, a visiting scholar at the Court of Justice of the European Union, and an intern at the Embassy of Germany in Rome. Since September 2019, he has been conducting doctoral research in European law at DCU with Professor Federico Fabbrini. In 2021, he was a YERUN visiting scholar at Essex Law School with Professor Kostandinides.

Doctoral Research

How to safeguard the rule of law within the Member States of the European Union? A comparative legal analysis of rule of law protection in federal legal systems via apex courts.

Research Overview

The rule of law is a fundamental value of the European Union enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty and affirmed by the CJEU in Les Verts. However, recently Member State’s governments challenge the rule of law by removing checks and balances in their national legal system and abolishing the independence of the judiciary. This is an alarming development in a quasi-federal legal order in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe. Thus, the question emerges how the rule of law backsliding in the Member States can be halted, and which role the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) plays in this regard?
The study, therefore, investigates the emerging case law of the CJEU on the rule of law commencing from the momentous ASJP judgement. Followed by an analysis of the inter-institutional relationship between the CJEU and the EU Institutions in protecting the rule of law in the Member States. Finally, earlier instances of rule of law backsliding in similar federal legal systems with powerful apex courts will provide a benchmark of the CJEU’s impact in the EU’s current rule of law crisis.

Contact Details

[email protected]