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What's the point of studying EU law?

Few people really know how EU law works, but getting to grips with it would be a boost to your career

Law students can find themselves struggling to pick up the basics of EU law. Photograph: Georg Hochmuth

Is the UK on the brink of a retreat from the European Union (EU)? For law students who struggle to get to grips with complex EU law the thought of having it knocked off the syllabus might seem positive.

Few people, including law students, really get to grips with how EU law works as it can differ so much from our own laws and systems.

But far more likely than retreating from the EU, the UK will most likely either retain the same terms or renegotiate its membership. Law students will probably have to go on tackling a subject that has developed hugely since the 1970s.

Studying EU law is a commitment - there is a great deal of reading to do and you have to learn lots of case law with usually long, tricky names to remember. Yet it's worth being thorough about it as EU law influences a broad spectrum of our current laws, across both private and public practice in the UK.

In fact there is almost no area of domestic law that does not touch EU law – from tax to social welfare - so if you're interested in becoming a lawyer after your studies, you will not be at a serious disadvantage if you plan to rely on being purely a domestic lawyer.

My EU law teacher repeatedly said that sloppy students don't get to terms with the general workings of the EU court systems quickly enough and often became confused later down the line. Spending time learning the practical aspects of the subject, including familiarising yourself with the set of institutions and how they function, will serve you well. You'll need to understand the division of powers, the way cases are managed and how decisions are made.

One common error students make is assuming cases are brought directly by individuals before the European courts – actually the correct venue is more commonly via a national court.

For aspiring lawyers, being able to work within the EU should be looked at favourably. Lawyers consider it to be business as usual. The EU is a serious world power – it has a population of half a billion people, generating £211 billion in exports and 4.2 million jobs for the UK.

This makes it an exciting and dynamic environment to work in with greater prospects than working just in the UK.

The potential conflicts of the economic policies of the EU and the political-social values of member states create the perfect environment for debate. EU lawyers negotiate on hot topics such as freedom, security and justice that involve harmonising policies on crime, immigration and asylum and raises human rights issues.

As people are more mobile and technology is developing quickly, dealing with legislation at a European level is important.

UK law firms have benefitted from belonging to a system that enables lawyers to practice within other member states on easy terms. Law students may want to apply to a firm that offers temporary or permanent placements at branches in other EU states to experience working abroad.

So those law students casting an absent-eye on EU law and legal systems, hoping that passing the exam will be enough, cast your eye again and see what EU law can offer you.


grip - an intellectual hold or understanding; "a good grip on French history"; "they kept a firm grip on the two top priorities"; "he was in the grip of a powerful emotion"; "a terrible power had her in its grasp"

brink (brɪŋk)

1. the edge, border, or verge of a steep place: the brink of the precipice.

2. the highest point; top: the sun fell below the brink of the hill.

Boost- encouragement, improvement, or help: a boost to morale.

syllabus - an integrated course of academic studies; "he was admitted to a new program at the university"

renegotiate - revise the terms of in order to limit or regain excess profits gained by the contractor; "We renegociated our old mortgage now that the interest rates have come down"

sloppy - careless; untidy

familiarising - serving to make familiar

venue - the scene of any event or action (especially the place of a meeting); the jurisdiction where a trial will be held


1. To have a great ambition or ultimate goal; desire strongly: aspired to stardom.

2. To strive toward an end: aspiring to great knowledge.

3. To soar.

Asylum - Protection granted to Aliens who cannot return to their homeland.

placement - contact established between applicants and prospective employees; "the agency provided placement services"

absent - away or not present; lacking; missing; inattentive; absent-minded

tackle – to try, undertake


Made by Julia Selivanova

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 688

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