European Legal Networks in Crisis: The Legal Construction of Economic Policy

Nicholas Haagensen

Thesis successfully defended at Copenhagen Business School (online) on 18th June 2020.

Supervisors: Prof. Ramona Coman (IEE-ULB) & Prof. Leonard Seabrooke (Copenhagen Business School)

Other members of the jury: Prof. Amandine Crespy (ULB-CEVIPOL), Prof. Stine Haakonsson (Copenhagen Business School), Prof. Mikael Rask Madsen (Copenhagen University), Prof. Antoine Vauchez (Université Paris 1-Sorbonne)


This dissertation investigates how legal and policy professionals have legally constructed the economic policy and governance of the EU since the beginning of the Eurozone crisis onwards. It follows the legal and policy professionals who reviewed the mandate to enable and consolidate solutions, as well as defend these solutions in court. By tracing the practices and trajectories of these agents, I show how, during an unfolding crisis, economic policy and governance becomes legally constructed and changes the terms of legitimation for EU economic governance. The stakes involved for the professionals involved also change. In this way, the dissertation speaks to the question of how intrusive political power has been legitimated during the Eurozone crisis and what this means for the legitimacy of European governance.
Theoretically, this thesis develops a Bourdieusian field approach that is adapted to the transnational and diachronic context of the Eurozone crisis, as it unfolded from the end of 2009 until the adjudication of key high-profile court cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union. Drawing on boundary work, bricolage, and network interactions to analyse the practices of legal and policy professionals, the process of enabling and consolidating solutions is elaborated. Attention is given to how this process engenders stakes for the professionals in this emerging euro-crisis law field, and what this means for emerging legal terms of legitimation for economic governance.
Methodologically, field-based and social network analysis are combined in two distinct ways. First, by employing a temporally-focussed network analysis, which caters for change by measuring the shifting centrality of legal and policy professionals over time, I show which professionals have had a high-level of involvement in dealing with crisis issues. This then permits the construction of a referral network based on how these professionals refer to their peers. The involvement of the professionals is further articulated as their accumulated symbolic capital: i.e. their involvement together with being perceived to know well. From this, I infer a species of symbolic capital unique to being part of the Eurozone crisis policy response: juridical capital.
This dissertation adds to scholarship on the Eurozone crisis by creating a theoretical framework based on Bourdieusian fields, which utilises a network analytical approach to show how the practices and interactions of legal and policy professionals reconfigure the transnational contexts that are implicated in the crisis policy response. Moreover, it is shown how these professionals’ practices enable solutions that are contested before the Court of Justice of the European Union, putting the Court in a position where it has to bring the definitional power of the law to bear on the actions of EU institutions and the Eurogroup. The Court must decide how responsibility should be attributed. The dissertation shows how legal and policy professionals developed practices, using jurisdictional and constitutionalising logics, and deployed at different times during the crisis, enabled and consolidated processes of legal integration and differentiation.

This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826


This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.