While citizens often lack the knowledge, organisation and power to make themselves heard within the EU policy process, NGOs often lack the skills and resources to effectively advocate for the interests of their European constituents. Too often policymaking resembles a David and Goliath contest, in which corporate interests hire Goliath and the public interest lies in the hands of David.
Against this background context, the EU Clinic seeks to lessen the gap between the EU institutions on the one hand and the EU public on the other by supporting NGOs to effectively advocate for the public interest in Europe. We believe that this process-oriented vision of justice, which consists in enhancing mechanisms and channels of democratic participation while promoting good legal practices, may ultimately not only encourage active citizen engagement among our students but also promote an active citizenry more broadly. To this end, we rely upon a growing network of pro bono consultants, who share our values and are willing to share their expertise and experience with our students.
The Clinic provides its students with an uncommon perspective on EU lawyering, which is taught as a complex process in which lawyers are called upon to take action in the midst of unbalanced, often polarized, public policy debates, in which not all interests are equally represented. It is against this backdrop that the core focus of the Clinic is on the different avenues enabling citizens not only to gain access to the EU decision-making process but also to ‘lobby for good’ through the analysis, critique and support of legislative and regulatory proposals. For instance, the Clinic has been involved in writing to EU officials, submitting a complaint to the EU Ombudsman, requesting access to documents from the institutions, proposing new initiatives through the launch of European Citizens’ Initiatives, and more.
Taking leave from the institutional context rather than from a particular issue-based vision of social justice, the Clinic engages in various policy areas, ranging from public health to consumer protection, as well as in more horizontal issues, such as institutional openness, judicial transparency, interest representation and open data.