Mr. dr. Pauline Phoa LLM

International and European Law
Assistant Professor
International and European Law
+31 30 253 3960

Pauline Phoa is a researcher and assistant professor at Utrecht University. She obtained both her Bachelor’s degree (2007) and her Master’s degree (in Legal Research, 2009) at Utrecht University.


After working as a legal assistant at A.W.H. Meij’s cabinet at the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg (2008-2010), Pauline obtained an additional LL.M at Columbia Law School in New York (USA) in 2012, where she was awarded Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar honours for her academic achievements. Pauline pursued her professional career with the International and European law department of a renowned law firm in Amsterdam, advising Dutch and international clients on European law, intellectual property law and various general issues of commercial contract law. At that law firm, she was also member of the litigation team for the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ (2012-2014). Pauline subsequently worked as EU law advisor for ECJ litigation team of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2014). From February 2014 until March 2015, she was pro bono legal advisor to The Ocean Cleanup, a foundation set up by Boyan Slat to develop an innovative solution to the plastic pollution of the oceans.


Pauline defended her PhD thesis 'EU Law as a Creative Process - a hermeneutic approach for the EU internal market and fundamental rights protection' on 29 October 2021, and received her doctorate degree 'cum laude'. Her PhD research focused on the EU legal narrative(s) that are at work in the legal reasoning of the Court of Justice of the European Union, particularly in cases that involve a balancing of economic and fundamental rights. Such narratives can be found in all kinds of textual elements, and particularly in the vision of humanity, worldview and self-understanding that a text reveals. In this study, Pauline drew on the work of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur and American 'Law and Literature' scholar James Boyd White to develop a so-called hermeneutic approach for EU law. Her research was supervised by Prof. Sybe de Vries (Utrecht University), prof. Jeanne Gaakeer (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and prof. Ton van den Brink (Utrecht University), and her book was published by Europa Law Publishing.

In June 2022, Pauline's dissertation was awarded with one of the prestigious dissertation prizes of the Stichting Praemium Erasmianum

In July 2023, Pauline's dissertation was awarded the dissertation prize of the Vereniging voor Wijsbegeerte van het Recht (VWR - the Dutch Society for Legal Philosophy) for best dissertation in the field of legal philosophy/legal theory in 2021-2022.

If you want to hear Pauline talk about her research, please listen to the podcast interview by Felix Ronkes Agerbeek at the Europa Felix podcast series.

Since December 2020, Pauline joined the 'Modern Bigness' research project (ERC funded), headed by prof. Anna Gerbrandy. This research project investigates whether European competition law can and should tackle the challenges of Big Tech's alleged 'Modern Bigness', which is a complex kind of power arising from the digital economy. Within the context of this study, Pauline focuses on platformization in the agri-food sector. See more at


Pauline is a member of the Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE), UU Focus Area 'Governing the Digital Society', and is an analyst for EU Law Live.  She has been a regular contributor to the case law section of SEW Tijdschrift voor Europees en Economisch Recht, a Dutch law journal on European and economic law.


Together with dr. Hanneke van Eijken, Pauline organised 'Festival Europa', a cross-over festival in TivoliVredenburg (Utrecht) on 18 May 2019, which offered different performances, lectures, debates and workshops about the core themes that were relevant for the 2019 European Parliamentary elections: migration, sustainability, security, citizenship & democracy and economic integration & equity. The Festival will be held again at the occasion of the 2024 European Parliamentary elections. Check out