PhD position on the topic of ‘Boards of Appeal of EU agencies’ (1.0 FTE)

Uren per week: 
36 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Recht, Economie, Bestuur en Organisatie
Departement Rechtsgeleerdheid
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


The Utrecht School of Law is seeking to appoint a PhD Researcher in law for a period of four years under the framework of our research platform ‘Empirical Research into Institutions for conflict resolution’ (ERI) and the Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE). We conduct research, both ‘classical’ legal research and empirical research, into conflict resolution institutions under a rapidly changing context. Among other things, we study conflict resolution and law enforcement. We investigate how institutions work in legal practice, as this provides important insights into the performance of their tasks, transparency, responsibility and accountability. All of this is done in collaboration with other scientific disciplines and other legal faculties, at home and abroad.

About this PhD’s topic in particular
In the last decades, EU policy makers have increasingly relied on quasi-judicial review by internal appellate bodies within EU agencies. These bodies – hereinafter “Boards of Appeal” (BoA) – give citizens a venue to challenge the decisions of EU agencies, which are therefore held more accountable. While setting up BoA now seems almost standard practice for EU agencies with decision-making powers, little is known about the models that inspire them and their operation. This makes research on BoA all the more important to shed light on their origins and on current functioning. Among the questions surrounding the nature of BoA is whether their tasks should be regarded – from both a positive and a normative perspective – as either a part of the administrative action, a pure review of legality, or a hybrid form of scrutiny. These doubts regarding the intensity of the review by BoA also lead to a lack of clarity concerning their ability to reconsider the assessment of complex facts, and more broadly the intensity of their deference towards the entities they belong to. Similar questions also concern the judicial review of BoA decisions by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The PhD researcher is invited to map the functioning of BoA with a legal and empirical analysis. This shall also address BoA from a comparative and historical perspective, taking into consideration the experience of objection procedures before similar pre-trial tribunals that are active in different (national) contexts. The research will investigate the ability of BoA to efficiently perform their tasks, which requires a thorough understanding of the factors that have an impact on the BoA functioning. These factors include, among other things, the expertise of the BoA components, the procedural rules and their results in terms of accuracy and timeliness of the decisions, and the intensity of the review. At the same time, the research should consider the implications of BoA operation for the rule of law, which involves inter alia whether BoA do, or should, fully comply with the fair trial principle and with all the impartiality requirements that apply to traditional courts. The research on all these aspects shall also be performed with quantitative and qualitative methods. The empirical basis for such an analysis shall include the case law of the BoA and the CJEU, interviews with members of BoA and other stakeholders, and surveys among various stakeholders.

As a PhD candidate, you will carry out your research in close cooperation with the research group on the Boards of Appeal (APPEAL Research Project), coordinated by the Utrecht School of Law, involving members of various BoA and primary European universities and research institutions. This will give you the opportunity of strengthening your empirical research with the access to an established network of experts.

As a PhD researcher you will:

  • engage in supervised scientific research that will ultimately result in a doctoral thesis;
  • participate in the relevant activities of the ERI platform and RENFORCE;
  • participate in the educational programme for PhD candidates of Utrecht Law School;
  • publish the interim results from the doctoral research in the form of conference papers, contributions to scientific journals, as well as through popular publications and presentations;
  • participate in research activities and events, such as conferences, workshops and joint publications. There is also a possibility to organize one or more meetings around the thesis topic.

You will be hosted at the Utrecht University School of Law, section of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law. During the doctoral research, you will write and publish a dissertation related to the aforementioned theme. The supervisor of the project is Prof Rob Widdershoven. Dr Matteo Gargantini and Dr Mira Scholten will be your co-supervisors.


Do you have a particular interest in EU legal institutions and questions, conflict resolution, and administrative procedural law? And are you interested in doing legal comparative and empirical research? If so, this position may be of interest to you.

To obtain this position, you:

  • have a law degree, preferably in EU, constitutional and/or administrative law;
  • are strongly committed to engaging in both legal comparative and empirical research (preferably demonstrated by publications and/or relevant education and research experience);
  • are highly motivated to do PhD research on quasi-jurisdictional conflict resolution mechanisms;
  • can speak and write fluently in English and, preferably, also in Dutch;
  • like to plan ahead and are committed to meeting deadlines;
  • can demonstrate excellent scientific writing and communication skills.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for a period of 18 months. Upon a positive evaluation, your contract will be extended by 2.5 years. The gross salary ranges between €2,395 in the first year and €3,061 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) in the fourth year of employment per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

In addition to these overall themes, the university stimulates interdisciplinary research through ‘focus areas’. Utrecht University is well-connected to society and contributes to today’s and tomorrow’s societal challenges. The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands. 

The Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance of Utrecht University includes three departments: the Utrecht School of Governance (USG); the Utrecht University School of Economics (U.S.E.) and the Utrecht University School of Law (USL) and has some 4,000 students and 500 employees. Thanks to a broad range of departments, renowned research institutes and an outstandingly equipped library, the organisation is an active part of society.

Aanvullende informatie

Questions about the project and the position may be addressed to Prof Rob Widdershoven, via


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. To apply, please send your curriculum vitae via the ‘apply’ button below, also including:

  • a grade list, and
  • a cover letter (max two pages), outlining your motivation to carry out this research.

Candidates shortlisted on the basis of the documents above will receive, by 9 November 2020 at the latest, an invitation for an interview. These candidates will also receive, with the same notice, an invitation to submit a research proposal (max five pages) by 23 November at the latest. The research proposal shall explain the candidate’s approach to the research topic, preliminary research question in light of the aspirations of this project, and shall specify the (empirical) methodology the candidate plans to adopt from both the legal and the empirical parts of the project. The interview is expected to take place in the week of 30 November. The planned starting date of employment is on 1 January 2021.

Uiterlijk reageren op 26 oktober 2020.