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Public Health Crises

Law Centre for Health and Life

As we have seen in the corona outbreak, the rapid global spread of serious infectious diseases constitutes a growing risk. The EU has gradually gained greater powers when it comes to tackling such major crises, but the constitutional safeguards within EU law have not kept pace with this growing role for the EU. In health emergencies the power of executive decision makers grows exponentially due to the need for rapid solutions. At the same time, given the sensitivity of the individual rights in the field of health - such as data protection or the right to refuse treatment - these decisions require a fine-tuning of the balance between the protection of the population and the safeguarding of individual rights. 

In this research on the EU Constitutional Order for Responding to Human Health Disasters, we use qualitative research and legal analyses to come up with legal principles that align with current EU powers, and also with the constitutional orders of the Member States to guide the EU in its response to major outbreaks. We work towards the formulation of guiding principles for both the substantive balancing between the protection of individual rights with the obligation to protect public health. However we also work towards rule of law guidance on the exercise of executive power and discretion at EU level in the field of health.


  • Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) Veni Talent programme.

Affiliated researchers

Prof. dr. mr. A. (Anniek) de Ruijter

Faculty of Law


Mr. H.B. (Hannah) van Kolfschooten LLM

Faculty of Law