Investigating the Influence of British Judges on the European Courts

Today we speak with Tine Carmeliet and Gina Kosmidou, current SAIS Europe MA students and research assistants here at the CCSDD. Tine and Gina both have backgrounds in law, and have just concluded working with CCSDD Director Justin Frosini on a project about the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.

Tine, born in the US and raised Belgium, is concentrating in European and Eurasian Studies here at SAIS Europe. She has a Master in Laws from the University of Leuven, where she focused her thesis on international and European law, and studied under numerous judges from European courts.

Gina, a native of Greece, is concentrating in Strategic Studies. She has an LLM in Public International Law from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and a BA in International and European Studies from the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki. Previous to SAIS, she worked for the European Parliament in Brussels.  

We sat down with them to discuss their work for the CCSDD.

Tine Carmeliet and Gina Kosmidou

Tine Carmeliet and Gina Kosmidou


Tell me about your project with Professor Frosini.

Gina: The research we’re doing is related to the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice – and in particular the possible influence of British judges on the two different courts.

Tine:We’re looking into whether the judges have a possible influence on the courts, and whether the procedures of the European Court of Human Rights give more leeway to influence the decision-making process than the European Court of Justice. Professor Frosini will use the research for an academic article he is writing.

Gina: The previous semester, I did some research with him on the new constitutional court of the UK, and in particular the cases that relate to, reflect, or mention the European Court of Justice and the European Court to of Human Rights to see if there’s any interaction between the courts, and if so what sort of interaction that is.

Tine: For me this is the first research project with him.

Why were you interested in doing research for the CCSDD?

Tine: I have a Master of Laws. I haven’t done any international relations before, so what I’m doing at SAIS is all very new, and I was really hoping to build a bridge to my legal background. Professor Frosini and I met, and he introduced the topic on UK judges. For me it’s a great topic because I have a background in international and European law, and I was able to use the experience I learned from my professors at the University of Leuven who are active as judges in the European Court.

Gina: I did an LLM, and when I came to SAIS, I knew that I was not going to take many law related courses, so that’s why I emailed him even before arriving. We had a meeting. Professor Frosini said he was interested in some research I did previously, and that’s how it started for me.

Tine: What I really like about it is that he leaves a lot of leeway to introduce our own opinions, and do proactive research. What we are more or less doing is writing a draft. We’re allowed to interpret the data.

Has anything you’ve learned in your research surprised you?

Gina: I think the procedure of appointment of judges in the European Court of Human Rights is very interesting because it’s very political and that fact is not well-known to the wider public.

Tine: For me it’s hard to imagine if something’s known to the wider public or not because of my five years of previous study in law. So it’s interesting, that bridge between our knowledge and the wider public’s. It’s a crossroads between politics and law.

How does your work for the CCSDD tie into your studies at SAIS?

Gina: I think you get a practical approach to legal problems, which is interesting, because you see how legal issues affect policy, and how the two are intertwined.

Tine: And what I would also consider an asset is that you can work closely with a great professor. For me it’s a big opportunity to get to know his research better, the way he thinks.

Gina: Even the opportunity to discuss these topics with him!

Tine: I think it’s also interesting to get to know that the CCSDD is related to the school but it’s also a little independent. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to get the full SAIS experience. It’s a nice job. You have to like to do some research, but as we mentioned before, he gives you a lot of leeway in how to tackle the problems. It’s much more than just sitting behind a computer and assembling documents and printing them. You are also expected to interpret and analyze.

What do you want to do after SAIS?

Gina: I think both of us are very interested in working within the sphere of the European Union.

Tine: We’re both going to intern at NATO this summer, so that shows our interest in the security aspects of the EU as well. And I would love to return to Brussels. For me there are a lot of career paths that I’m still considering, including writing a PhD.

Do you have any future projects planned with the CCSDD?

Tine: The next project is going to be with Sarah Pennicino, and it will center more around the other member states.

Gina: It’s about electoral law and in particular electoral complaints, and the process of reviewing these complaints. We will do a comparative study about how it works in different EU countries. The research with Sara is aimed to actually send it to the new Italian Prime Minister and petition for it to become an amendment in Italian electoral law. That’s one of the reasons that we like to do this research. It has an impact.

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