Chair of European Union Law

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Niamh Nic Shuibhne is Professor of European Union Law. She is one of the Joint Editors of the Common Market Law Review and a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges), where she teaches a course on EU citizenship law. She was Joint Editor of the European Law Review from 2009-2014, and remains a member of its Editorial Board. 

Her research examines questions of substantive EU law from a constitutional perspective, with a particular focus on principle-based analysis of free movement law and the capacity of the judicial function. 

She has published widely on different aspects of free movement law, and especially on the free movement of persons and the legal regulation of EU citizenship. With her colleague Jo Shaw, she acted as Joint General Rapporteur for the 'Union Citizenship: Development, Impact and Challenges' theme at the FIDE Congress held in May 2014

Other recent work looks at the justification arguments that Member States use when restricting free movement rights in order to protect national public interest concerns, including the growing role played by evidence and proof in that area; and at how fundamental rights are protected in the EU legal order.

Niamh welcomes enquiries from potential students interested in undertaking research degrees in any of these fields.

PhD Supervisees

Emily Hancox  'The Interplay between Norms in the EU Legal Order: Implications for the Scope of EU Law'

Miroslava Hulvanova  'Margin of appreciation in interpretation of human rights in internal market law'


Niamh Nic Shuibhne The Coherence of EU Free Movement Law: Constitutional Responsibility and the Court of Justice (OUP, 2013)
Abstract: At the heart of the European Union is the establishment of a European market grounded in the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital. The implementation of the free market has preoccupied European lawyers since the inception of the Union's predecessors. Throughout the Union's development, as obstacles to free movement have been challenged in the courts, the European Court of Justice has had to expand on the internal market provisions in the founding Treaties to create a body of law determining the scope and meaning of the EU protection of free movement. In doing so, the Court has often taken differing approaches across the different freedoms, leaving a body of law apparently lacking a coherent set of foundational principles. This book presents a critical analysis of the European Courts' jurisprudence on free movement, examining the Court's constitutional responsibility to articulate a coherent vision of the EU internal market. Through analysis of restrictions on free movement rights, it argues that four main drivers are distorting the system of the case law and its claims to coherence. The drivers reflect 'good' impulses (the protection of fundamental rights); avoidable habits (the proliferation of principles and conflicting lines of case law authority); inherent ambiguities (the unsettled purpose and objectives of the internal market); and broader systemic conditions (the structure of the Court and its decision-making processes). These dynamics cause problematic instances of case law fragmentation - which has substantive implications for citizens, businesses, and Member States participating in the internal market as well as reputational consequences for the Court of Justice and for the EU more generally. However, ultimately the Member States must take greater responsibility too: only they can ensure that the Court of Justice is properly structured and supported, enabling it to play its critical institutional part in the complex narrative of EU integration. Examining the judicial development of principles that define the scope of EU free movement law, this book argues that sustaining case law coherence is a vital constitutional responsibility of the Court of Justice. The idea of constitutional responsibility draws from the nature of the duties that a higher court owes to a constitutional text and to constitutional subjects. It is based on values of fairness, integrity, and imagination. A paradigm of case law coherence is less rigid, and therefore more realistic, than a benchmark of legal certainty. But it still takes seriously the Court's obligations as a high-level judicial institution bound by the rule of law. Judges can legitimately be expected - and obliged - to be aware of the public legal resource that they construct through the evolution of case law. However, ultimately, the Member States must take greater responsibility too: only they can ensure that the Court of Justice is properly structured and supported, enabling it to play its critical institutional part in the complex narrative of European integration.

Niamh Nic Shuibhne EC Law and Minority Language Policy: Culture, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights (Kluwer, 2002)
Abstract: The European Community has pledged respect for the cultural and linguistic diversity of its Member States and has recognized minority languages as an inherent constituent in this regard. This development reflects a broader trend within the Community towards grappling with less obvious aspects of supranational governance. Minority language groups turn optimistically to "Europe" in response. But, despite rhetorical promises, just what can the EC actually be expected to do in the realm of minority language protection, a politically sensitive and traditionally domestic concern? Arguments put forward to date focus primarily on philosophical, moral, economic, and political discourse. While these considerations are a vital aspect of the debate on minority languages and on linguistic diversity more generally, the question of legal basis remains largely unanswered. This book traces comprehensively the existence of an appropriate legal basis for action undertaken by the EC in this domain, striving in particular to locate a pragmatic yet effective balance between legitimate possibility and acceptable limitations.

Edited Books

Niamh Nic Shuibhne, Laurence Gormley From Single Market to Economic Union: Essays in Memory of John A Usher (OUP, 2012)
Abstract: The path from single market to economic union is a continuing, and controversial, story; raising questions about the present and future regulation, structures, and purpose of economic union within the broader objectives of the EU legal and political order. This collection focuses on the evolution and regulation of the EU as an economic union, in tribute to the scholarship of the late Professor John A Usher. The process of treaty reform within the EU has now reached fruition and attention is being re-focused on substantive aspects of EU law and policy. The essays in the collection consider the EU internal market in its broadest sense: the fundamental free movement provisions remain at the core, but the concept of the transnational market must also accommodate competing interests to which the EU is committed but the implications of which can nonetheless distort, and thus need to be carefully balanced within, the basic free trade framework (for example, intellectual property rights and the protection of innovation, and also the implementation of social policy objectives). The collection also situates the market in its broader politico-economic context. The global economic climate remains precarious and questions about optimal financial and fiscal regulation, and monetary stability, remain critically significant, especially in a transnational context given the degree of inter-dependency generated by the EU integration project. The essays in the collection offer in-depth reflections on different 'parts' of this evolving transnational economic union, linked together as a whole by cross-cutting thematic concerns about competence and regulation, and about where and how the economic law of the EU fits within the broader integration narrative. Together, these different elements of the proposed collection demonstrate the different facets of EU economic law and its regulation; and this approach, in turn, reflects the extraordinary breadth of John Usher's remarkable contribution to scholarship.

Niamh Nic Shuibhne, Michael Dougan, Eleanor Spaventa Empowerment and Disempowerment of the European Citizen (Hart Publishing, 2012)

Niamh Nic Shuibhne Regulating the Internal Market (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2006)
Abstract: This collection explores the management of the internal market from a legal perspective. While the EU agenda is currently dominated by the processes of Treaty reform, this assessment of both market and constitutional governance evaluates the coherence or otherwise of the project at the very core of European integration. Confronted with a free market nearing completion, with a relatively formulaic application of internal market law, the book portrays how this is mirrored in a growing tendency to hand the market 'back' to the Member States and, increasingly, to authorities and bodies (both public and private) therein. We see too, however, an internal market framework that strains to cope with a series of challenges, both internal and external to the EU itself. The approach of the contributors is two-fold - on one hand, they reflect thematically on questions of regulation which cut across the spectrum of the market and its freedoms. On the other hand, they adopt more sector-specific lenses (including, for example, regulation of the media and the Internet) through which contemporary regulatory dynamics can be reconsidered. Providing analysis of contemporary challenges facing the internal market, this book will be of great interest to academics, researchers and students working in the field of EC law. It will also strongly appeal to national and community officials and policy makers due to its 'testing' abstract questions of principle surrounding constitutional character in the market sphere.

Journal Articles

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Limits rising, duties ascending: The changing legal shape of Union citizenship' (2015) Common Market Law Review vol 52(4) pp 889-937
Abstract: This article demonstrates that there has been a generational shift towards the rising significance of conditions and limits, and a less explicit but discernible ascension of duties, in the application and interpretation of citizenship rights. Articles 20 and 21 TFEU provide for the restriction of rights by both primary and secondary law, but the extent to which this now occurs calls into question the existence, and not just the exercise, of the foundational primary rights. The article argues that there has been a hegemonic attribution of supremacy to secondary law that fails to engage the constitutional protocols epitomizing the Union legal order more generally.

Niamh Nic Shuibhne, Marsela Maci 'Proving Public Interest: The Growing Impact of Evidence in Free Movement Case Law' (2013) Common Market Law Review vol 504 pp 965-1005

Niamh Nic Shuibhne '(Some Of) The Kids Are All Right: Comment on McCarthy and Dereci' (2012) Common Market Law Review vol 49(1) pp 349-379

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Constitutional Uncertainty of EU Law. Review Article of The Past and Future of EU Law: The Classics of EU Law Revisited on the 50th Anniversary of the Rome Treaty by Miguel Poiares Maduro and Loïc Azoulai (eds)' (2010) Yearbook of European Law vol 29 pp 496-514

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Resilience of EU Market Citizenship' (2010) Common Market Law Review vol 476 pp 1597-1628

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Settling Dust? Reflections on the Judgments in Viking and Laval' (2010) European Business Law Review vol 215 pp 683-701

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Margins of Appreciation: National Values, Fundamental Rights and EC Free Movement Law' (2009) European Law Review vol 34(2) 230-256

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Common Market at 50' (2008) Irish Journal of European Law vol 15 pp 103-126

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Case comment on Schwarz, Commission v Germany, and Morgan & Bucher' (2008) Common Market Law Review vol 45 pp 771-786

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Derogating from the free movement of persons: When can EU citizens be deported?' (2006) Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies vol 8 pp 187-227

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Recent Developments on the Status of (Minority) Languages within the EU Framework' (2005) European Yearbook of Minority Issues vol 4 2004-5 pp 373-388

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Legal implications of enlargement for the individual: EU citizenship and free movement of persons' (2004) ERA - Forum vol 3 pp 355-369

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Case Comment on Kik v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market' (2004) Common Market Law Review vol 41(4) pp 1093-1111

Niamh Nic Shuibhne, Robert Lane 'Oil and Troubled Waters' (2002) Dublin University Law Journal Vol 24 pp 251-267

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The European Union and Minority Language Rights' (2002) MOST Journal on Multicultural Societies vol 3(1) pp 61-77
Abstract: The European Community has pledged respect for the cultural and linguistic diversity of its Member States and has recognised minority languages as an inherent constituent in this regard. In turn, minority language groups turn to "Europe" in response to grapple with minority language issues when perhaps domestic response to their concerns is either not forthcoming or simply not enough. This paper submits, however, that while there is a justifiable role for EC involvement in minority language issues, this competence is necessarily limited by the function and capacity of the EC more generally. Available online at:

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The European Court of Justice and the Europe Agreements: Shaping a Legal Framework' (2002) Dublin University Law Journal vol 23 pp 203-217

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Free Movement of Goods and Article 28 EC: An Evolving Framework' (2002) European Law Review vol 274 pp 408-425

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Free Movement of Persons and the Wholly Internal Rule: Time to Move On ?' (2002) Common Market Law Review vol 39(4) pp 731-771

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Rethinking Irish Language Policy - A Legal Perspective' (2000) Contemporary Issues in Irish Law and Politics Vol 3 pp 36-53

Robert Lane, Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Casenote on Case C-281/98 Roman Angonese v Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano' (2000) Common Market Law Review Vol 37 pp 1237-1247

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'State Duty and the Irish Language' (1997) Dublin University Law Journal Vol19 pp32-49

Niamh Nic Shuibhne, P. Ó Raigáin 'Minority Language Rights' (1997) Annual Review of Applied Linguistics Vol17 pp11-29

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Impact of European Law on Linguistic Diversity' (1996) Irish Journal of European Law Vol51 pp62-80


Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Developing Legal Dimensions of Union Citizenship' in Anthony Arnull and Damian Chalmers (eds) The Oxford Handbook of European Union Law (OUP, 2015) 477-507

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Developing Legal Dimensions of Union Citizenship' in Anthony Arnull and Damien Chalmers (eds) The Oxford Handbook of EU Law (OUP, 2015) 477-507

Niamh Nic Shuibhne, Jo Shaw 'General Report - Union Citizenship: Development, Impact and Challenges' in Ulla Neergaard, Catherine Jacqueson, and Nina Holst-Christensen (eds) The XXVI FIDE Congress in Copenhagen 2014: Congress Publications Vol. 2 (DJOEF Publishing, 2014) 65-227

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Exceptions to the Free Movement Rules' in Catherine Barnard and Steve Peers (eds) European Union Law (Oxford University Press, 2014) 473-503

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Medium-Sized Language Communities and the EU Legal Framework: Exploring the Challenges and Strategies for Change' in A Milian Massana (eds) Language Law and Legal Challenges in Medium-Sized Language Communities: A Comparative Legal Perspective (Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics, 2012) 121-147

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'EU citizenship after Lisbon' in D Ashiagbor, N Countouris and I Lianos (eds) The European Union after the Treaty of Lisbon (Cambridge University Press, 2012) 136-155

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Third Age of EU Citizenship: Directive 2004/38 in the Case Law of the Court of Justice' in P Syrpis (eds) The Judiciary, The Legislature and The EU Internal Market (CUP, 2012) 331-362

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Outer Limits of EU Citizenship: Displacing Economic Free Movement Rights?' in Catherine Barnard and Okeoghene Odudu (eds) The Outer Limits of European Union Law (Hart Publishing, 2009) 167-195

David Edward, Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Continuity and Change in the Law relating to Services' in Anthony Arnull, Piet Eeckhout & Takis Tridimas (eds) Continuity and Change in EU Law: Essays in Honour of Sir Francis Jacobs (OUP, 2008) 243-259

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'EC Law and Minority Language Policy: Some Recent Developments' in Xabier Arzoz (eds) Respecting Linguistic Diversity in the European Union (John Benjamins, 2008) 123-143

Niamh Nic Shuibhne '(Minority) languages, law and politics: Tracing EC action' in D. Castiglione and C. Longman (eds) The Language Question in Europe and Diverse Societies: Political, Social and Legal Perspectives (Hart Publishing, 2007) 123-146

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Labels, Locals and the Free Movement of Goods' in Rachael Craufurd Smith Culture and European Union Law (Oxford University Press, 2004) 81-112

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'European Community Law and Minority Languages' in D. Ó Riagáin (eds) Language and Law in Northern Ireland (Cló Ollscoil na Banríona, 2003) 121-137

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Article 13 EC and non-discrimination on grounds of nationality: Missing or in action?' in Cathryn Costello and Eilis Barry (eds) Equality in Diversity: The New Equality Directives (The Equality Authority, 2003) 269-293

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The EU and Fundamental Rights: Well in Spirit but Considerably Rumpled in Body?' in Neil Walker, Paul Beaumont and Carole Lyons (eds) Convergence and Divergence in European Public Law (Hart Publishing, 2002) 177-196

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'Ascertaining a Linguistic Minority: Ireland as a Case Study' in Deidre Fottrell and Bill Bowring (eds) Minority and Group Rights in the New Millennium (Martinus Nijhoff, 1999) pp.87-110

Niamh Nic Shuibhne 'The Constitution, the Courts and the Irish Language' in Tim Murphy, Patrick Twomey (eds) Ireland's Evolving Constitution 1937-1997: Collected Essays (Hart Publishing, 1998) pp253-263