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Two-day UB Law School Conference Explores European Union's Continuing Challenges

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: April 27, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The ongoing challenge of uniting 27 nations, both politically and socially, into a cohesive European Union is the subject of a major interdisciplinary conference April 28-29 at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at the University at Buffalo Law School.

The conference is called "Realizing Europe: The Lisbon Treaty in Perspective." Presenters will address aspects of the 2009 treaty that significantly changes the governance of the EU, an international organization that encompasses over 500 million citizens of Europe.

The conference will cover issues of EU citizenship, immigration, education, science and technology, law, cultural policy and federalism. It includes a reception during which Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua will greet those in attendance.

UB's "Realizing Europe" conference is the first major presentation of the university's new Center for European Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. The center is led by director and anthropology professor Deborah Reed-Danahay, principal organizer of the conference. Also assisting in the conference are UB Law associate professor Michael Halberstam and assistant professor of anthropology Vasiliki Neofotistos.

"We wanted to start a conversation both here at the university and with the wider Buffalo-Niagara community about issues related to the future of Europe and its political, legal, economic and social implications," says Reed-Danahay, a political and legal anthropologist. "The EU is a project that is still in process and still being realized."

The conference addresses both the EU's evolving political organization and the organization's "social project." This project encourages citizens of its member nations to think of themselves broadly as Europeans, all of whom share a common identity with others living in Europe. Symbols such as the EU flag and anthem are meant to foster this sense of belonging. Reed-Danahay has done research in French primary schools on efforts to guide young pupils to buy into the idea that they are Europeans, not just French citizens.

"For anyone engaged in transactions, international trade or international institutions, EU law is important," says Halberstam. "Increasingly, EU law is becoming part of the Law School curriculum."

EU law is a separate field from international law, Halberstam says. "It can have a great impact on corporate transactions," he says. "It's a very complicated field, given that EU law is superimposed and interacts with different national legal regimes, both civil law regimes and common law regimes."

In addition to the organizers, presenters at the conference include:

Rodolphe Gasche, Distinguished Professor and Eugenio Donato Chair of Comparative Literature at UB.

Daniel Halberstam, Eric Stein Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Alexander Somek, Charles E. Floete Chair in Law at University of Iowa College of Law.

Hans de Wit, Professor of Internationalization at the School of Economics and Management of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences.

Catherine Neveu, director of research at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in Paris.

Aires Soares, Minister-Counselor and Head of Science, Technology and Education for the European Union Delegation in Washington, D.C.

Anne-Marie Thiesse, director of research at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, in Paris.

Wolfgang Wolck, Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics at UB.

Full information about the conference is available at

The Center for European Studies is devoted to research and intellectual exchange among faculty and students on political, cultural and social transformations of contemporary Europe as well as Europe's multiple historical traditions and close connections to North America. The center encourages the creation of networks across disciplinary and geographic boundaries. It encourages collaboration with other area universities and colleges, and develops partnerships with both European and North American programs in European studies. The University at Buffalo is well poised to be the home of CEUS, given the international spirit of Buffalo -- a city with a rich history of European immigration, and located at the border of Ontario, Canada.

Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School -- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law schools.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.