Former Research Fellow Michael De Boeck awarded with Doctoral degree from Ghent University and the University of Luxembourg

22 July 2020

We are extremely happy that another member of the International Max Planck Research School for Successful Dispute Resolution (IMPRS-SDR) Michael De Boeck has been awarded a Doctoral degree from Ghent University and University of Luxembourg (joint Ph.D).

Michael's thesis on "The compatibility of investor-state dispute settlement provisions in Bilateral Investment Treaties and the Energy Charter Treaty with EU Law" examines the relationship between ISDS provisions in bilateral and mixed investment agreements with EU law from the perspectives of international law and the EU legal order post-Lisbon.

From international law’s perspective, the thesis concludes that those provisions remain internationally binding. From EU law’s perspective, it determines the legal effect of international obligations in Member States’ BITs and the Energy Charter Treaty within the EU legal order. Those international obligations may be recognized under certain conditions, but only up to the limits of the nebulous notion of EU law’s “autonomy”. It therefore examines the nature and requirements of EU law’s autonomy on the compatibility of ISDS provisions, finding that the ISDS provisions in the ECT and many of the 1.286 remaining extra-EU BITs are at present incompatible with EU law. Consequently, the thesis exposes a fundamental incongruity between the international and EU law effects of international investment treaties because those ISDS provisions cannot sort effects within the EU legal order, even though they remain binding internationally. 

The examination board gathered co-supervisors Prof. Dr Maud Piers (Ghent University) and Prof. Dr Matthew Happold (University of Luxembourg), Prof. Dr Michel Tison (chairperson, Ghent University), Prof. Dr Burkhard Hess (Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law), Prof. Dr Séverine Menetrey (University of Luxembourg), Prof. Dr Eric De Brabandere (Leiden University), Prof. Dr Jan Orbie and Prof. Dr Tom Ruys (both from Ghent University).

Up until recently Michael was a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg. He is now an academic assistant at the College of Europe in Bruges.