Public Defence: More social than you might think

Master Mala Loth at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History will defend her dissertation Last Stop Luxembourg. Lawyer’s Dynamism and the European Court of Justice’s Contribution to Social Equity, c. 1970-1990 for the degree of philosophiae doctor (PhD).

Doctoral candidate Mala Loth, wall with text "det humanistiske fakultet"The European Union has often been depicted by national politicians as well as media as a neoliberal actor interfering with nation states’ legislation on welfare and social security issues. Some critics even hold the European Union responsible for high rates of unemployment and growing social inequality as such. While these perspectives have frequently received support from the ranks of social scientists, historians have only recently started to engage with the social dimension of European integration and community institutions’ role in this process.

In her dissertation Last Stop Luxembourg, Mala Loth examines the history of the European Community in the field of social policy and with a special focus on its judicial dimension. By means of a biographical approach, the dissertation argues that it was in fact lawyers, and sometimes their clients, who became a dynamic force in the extension of social rights that took place between 1970 and 1990.

Loth shows that lawyers from Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany brought cases with welfare law and labour law implications to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, initiating a process in the course of which the Court emerged as an important remedy and sometimes a last resort to ensure clients’ rights when national legislation was of no help. 

The dissertation analyses the lawyersʼ different backgrounds and the complex interplay between the various protagonists – mainly the plaintiffs, the Commission’s Legal Service, the advocates general, and the judges – and thereby contributes to a deeper understanding of the European integration process and the complex relationship of politics and law.

Mala Loth successfully defended her dissertation on October 15, 2021.

Trial lecture

Designated topic: "How to write legal history? A lecture on the debates of legal scholarship on how to write the history of international (and European) law and an assessment of what may be the contributions of historians"

Evaluation committee

Professor Glenda Sluga, European University Institute (first opponent)

Associate Professor Morten Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen (second opponent)

Professor Olav Njølstad, University of Oslo (committee administrator)

Chair of the defence

Head of research training Ulrike Spring


Professor Hanne Hagtved Vik, University of Oslo

Professor Hartmut Kaelble, Humboldt University Berlin

Published Sep. 20, 2021 4:47 PM - Last modified July 19, 2022 10:48 AM