Book review ‘Human Rights in Contemporary European Law’ (eds. Eleonor Kristoffersson & Joakim Nergelius)

Nergelius, Joakim & Kristoffersson, Eleonor (eds.), ‘Human Rights in Contemporary European Law’, Hart Publishing, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-84946-483-3, 229 pages, €75/700 SEK.

Human Rights in Contemporary European Law is a recently published book (2015) and volume 6 in the series Swedish Studies in European Law. The book consists of twelve articles by renowned Swedish law scholars and judges who are all specialised in the subject of European law. The anthology has been edited by professor Joakim Nergelius and professor Eleonor Kristoffersson and originates from two well-attended seminars in 2011 and 2012 in Örebro and Stockholm, Sweden. The seminars dealt with the topics human rights in today’s European law and the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It is safe to say that the book has successfully gathered the joint Swedish expertise in these fields with these authors and with an origin in these seminars.

When referring to ‘European Law’ the authors mean that both the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law are included, as the articles focus on both. As stated in the preamble of the book, due to the requirements of the Swedish Network for European law Studies, only Swedish speakers attending the two seminars have been invited to participate in this volume. This means that European law is analysed from a Swedish perspective by Swedish scholars, thus the book puts focus on issues and collisions in the integration between European law and Swedish law. Although some articles consider clashes between EU law and the ECHR, which also give it significant elements of  purely European perspectives.

The book is dominated by two topics, namely the accession of the EU to the ECHR and the principle of ne bis in idem in relation to the domestic tax law of Sweden. Regarding the latter topic the Åkerberg Fransson judgment (C-617/10) of the European Court of Justice from 2013, also commented earlier in this blog, is given special emphasis. Other topics analysed in the book are the EU’s general human rights strategy (Andreas Moberg), the doctrine of the margin of appreciation (Pär Hallström), judicial review in Swedish courts (Karin Åhman) and human rights in relation to the problem of human trafficking (Märta Johansson).

As the title indicates, the book mainly considers legal aspects. However, some political aspects are brought forward, as for instance in the articles analysing the accession of the EU to the ECHR and the article by Karin Åhman about judicial review in Sweden. These aspects are highly relevant for lawyers and readers interested in European law, since the legal and political aspects are interrelated. The book is meant to not only answer questions but also to invoke new ones. It would not only hold great value for readers interested in EU law but may also trigger new research questions in the field of European law and provide valuable input to practitioners to find and use new legal grounds in proceedings before authorities and courts. Since the articles give an in-depth analysis of the issues in the book, basic knowledge of European law is required.

Currently the book is a little on the expensive side, especially in comparison to its size, which is compensated by the quality of the work. Due to its nature as a collection of conference-originated articles which each deal with their own issues one could miss a red line through the book as the articles seldom refer or link to each other in any direct way. This makes the book lack a component that keeps it together as a book. It is to be seen as a collection of conference papers, in themselves well written and valuable, rather than a complete book on the subject. More collaboration could be expected from a collection of papers coming from the same seminars. The fact that European law is analysed from a Swedish perspective and solely by Swedish scholars makes the book very Sweden-oriented even though the focus is not on domestic law. However, with roughly 200 pages the book offers the reader a lot of valuable knowledge contained in a comfortable amount of pages.

by Thomas Johansson, Lisa Nyström and Julia Sandgren


About eulaworebro

Örebro Universitet (Sweden)
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