2018 ELI Annual Conference in Riga (Latvia): The ELI Continues to Strive for Improving the European Law


While Europe is currently in a struggle between a common vision of cohesion and an increasing focus on national interests, the European Law Institute (ELI) provides a forum for lawyers, judges, notaries, academics and all other legal professionals to discuss concrete solutions how to improve European law for the benefit of European citizens. The 2018 ELI Annual Conference took place in Riga (Latvia) on 5-7 September 2018. At the University of Latvia around 250 legal experts from Europe and beyond, discussed current topics related to improving the law across Europe.

‘Because of its centenary, 2018 is an important year for Latvia - and Latvia is essential to the ELI. As a forum for a genuinely European legal community it is our aim that ELI events take place in every European country. And Latvia is a great member country with an overwhelming hospitality’, ELI President Christiane Wendehorst emphasised in her opening speech in presence of the Latvian Minister of Justice, Dzintars Rasnačs, and the Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Latvia, Anita Rodina. The 2018 ELI Annual Conference was hosted by the Ministry of Justice, the Court Administration and the University of Latvia with the support of the University of Vienna and the European Union.

The ELI drives topical projects to improve the law across Europe

At the ELI Annual Conference latest developments in current ELI projects were presented and discussed, such as:

·         Empowering European Families

With over 16 million couples where at least one of the partners lives in a country other than their country of origin, many families face obstacles, for instance in the context of divorce or succession. The ELI project aims at overcoming these barriers.

·         Online Intermediary Platforms

While many of us use Airbnb, Uber and Amazon today, the dynamics of such platforms can be difficult to reconcile with the currently existing regulatory framework at EU level. The ELI project develops model rules which consider the criteria for identification, rights and duties of ‘platform operators’ and ‘suppliers’ and also contain rules on transparency and fairness of online reputation systems.

·         Protection of Adults in International Situations

Due to globalization and increased opportunities to live in various places around the world, the protection of adults and their assets is of growing importance. Which law should be applicable? Which courts should hear cases? What are the drawbacks to current rules? The answers to these and related questions are addressed by this ELI project.

·         Principles for a Data Economy

With regard to their economic importance, data is increasingly replacing physical goods. However, the existing legal systems are not tailored to data as tradable goods. This project, in collaboration with the American Law Institute (ALI), will serve as a source of inspiration for lawmakers, courts and private parties worldwide.

In addition, during the Annual Meeting, future ELI projects related to the latest developments in digitization were discussed, such as liability in a digitalised environment for damages caused by autonomous agents, or access to digital assets such as software, crypto-currencies , online bank accounts, social media profiles, for example in case of demise. Blockchain technology also has tremendous potential to fundamentally change many areas of private law.

International Keynote Speakers call for Defending the Independence of Judiciary

Much acclaimed keynote speeches were delivered by Harriet Lansing, former President of the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) from the United States, and Pauliine Koskelo, Finnish Judge to the European Court of Human Rights, who both expressed their concern over Europe and a world that could lose its cohesion. As Lansing put it in her statement ‘I believe, these are the areas of paramount importance where we need to stand guardian: 1. voting processes and vote counting processes, 2. the independence of the judiciary, 3. the protection of privacy, 4. the guarantee of basic human rights, 5. laws relating to money systems and the regulation of money systems, and 6. the survival of the Free Press.’ The speeches can be read in detail here.

ELI Young Lawyers Award to Encourage the Next Generation of Legal Experts

For the second time, the ELI Young Lawyers Award was awarded to encourage the next generation of legal experts. This year’s winner is Manon van Roozendaal, a Dutch graduate from Maastricht University, for her paper titled ‘Algorithms: Teenage Troublemakers of EU Competition Law’. Her paper looks at algorithms being used as price-fixing instruments and how such behaviour can be qualified under EU competition law.

Save the date:
The 2019 ELI Annual Conference will take place
from 4-6 September 2019 in Vienna (Austria).