Please write a bit about your background.
I was born in Malmö, a city previously famed for its shipyards, but today keenly marketed as an IT/gaming-industry haven. Candy Crush, for example, is a proud Malmö export. I didn’t spend my early childhood in Sweden though; feeling adventurous and curious to return to their roots, my parents decided to give life in Yugoslavia (now Serbia) a go. I remember this period as idyllic – we lived in a small town from which both my parents originate – but this was the 80’s and politically things quickly turned sour. My parents didn’t foresee the subsequent wars that would tear the country apart (not many did), but they wisely decided to return to Sweden before the fighting started, following a seven-year stint in the homeland. The transition from a Mediterranean to a Baltic mentality was unsettling to start with but I loved school and was fortuned with the most brilliant teachers from year 1. They encouraged me to apply to a newly established international school in town, and having graduated from there, I decided to go abroad. I studied Law at King’s College in London, with a year’s stint at Passau Universität. I then spent a year in France, studying French so that I could take the bilingual LLM at Collège d’Europe in Belgium, before showing up in Oxford for the DPhil, which allowed me to spend some time also at NYU. After ten years of studying, I returned to Sweden for my first academic job at Lund University, where I stayed for five years before taking up my current post at LMH. I now live in East Oxford with my partner, Kristijan, and our nineteen-month old son, Sergej Ezra.
What led you to a career in academia?
My professors at KCL, especially Sionaidh Douglas-Scott and Maria Lee, who taught me EU and Environmental Law respectively. At King’s, my best friend, Emma, and I were editors for the school’s Law paper – King’s Bench – which very generously provided us with an office on the Strand, where we spent most of our time. I’m not sure King’s had an open-door policy but Emma and I acted as such and so we would stir up a conversation with whomever was in their office. Looking back, we must have been spectacularly annoying but even so, we never received any negative reactions. And it was during one of those informal chats that Richard Wish encouraged me to study Law in Bruges, Oke Odudu nudged me to apply to Oxford, and Tariq Baloch introduced me to Liz Fisher’s writing (Liz would later become my DPhil supervisor). Sionaidh would even invite Emma and me over to her house for dinner; her profound knowledge of all matters from legal theory to EU law, and the way in which she treated us as her equals, had a deep effect on me, and inspired me to pursue Law further.
What are your research interests and why have you chosen those particular areas?
My research area is primarily Environmental Law but I would count myself as an EU lawyer too. I entered academia obsessed with the idea of markets as regulatory strategies. I had first read about emissions trading schemes (or carbon markets) in my final year at King’s, where Maria Lee had set up a new course in Environmental Law. I didn’t really know what to expect from this elective but I still remember reading chapter 7 on ‘New Regulatory Instruments in the EU: Emissions Trading’ in Maria’s forthcoming book and being blown away by the idea that markets can be employed for a particular regulatory objective. This would mean that markets are not, as often assumed, only steered by economic efficiency but that there is a choice in how we organise markets. So how do markets operate; how are they constructed and according to which objectives? These are some of the questions that have occupied me for more than ten years: first, when I wrote my dissertation for Maria’s class at King’s, and later as part of my DPhil. Market construction is still a topic to which I often return, but I have since moved on to explore the role of rights (eg property, human rights, procedural rights etc) in environmental law, the ‘greening’ of procurement law, climate change law and adjudication, as well the interface between public and private law in large-scale infrastructure projects, like China’s Belt and Road, and the interlinks between environmental protection, the rule of law, and populism.
What are you working on at the moment?
Together with Jeremias Adams-Prassl, I’ve just returned the final proofs for what was our lockdown project – Great Debates in EU Law. Working with Jeremias was simply a hoot. I’m now working on multiple projects that are at different stages of maturity. With Åsa Romson, a colleague from Sweden, I’m wrapping up a paper on large infrastructure projects, focusing on airports, and the ways in which climate change legislation is pushing planning law toward refiguring. I’m also part of an interdisciplinary research group on greenhouse gas removal technologies where I’m mapping different governance models that these technologies rely on, and the legal implications thereof, for a paper due later this summer. Also within climate change law, I’ve teamed up with a group of labour lawyers to explore interfaces between labour and environmental law in ensuring just transition, which is a project that examines ways in which the links between populism and environmental law could be broken with the help of labour law protection. Moving away from environmental law, Liz (Fisher) and I have embarked on a book project entitled Craft as Legal Scholarship, where we’ll discuss what it is that legal scholars do, how we do it, and how to assess it. The idea of legal scholarship as a craft builds on Liz’s fantastic work on the subject, and I’m thrilled she’s asked me to join arms with her. I take great pleasure in co-writing, and I feel very fortunate to have such brilliant colleagues at an arm’s length, or, as per Covid measures, a cow apart.
Who inspires you or has inspired you in the past?
As the granddaughter of immigrants, I’ve been surrounded by hard-working and courageous people throughout my life, who continue to inspire me. Packing our bags and uprooting is easy for my generation (at least pre-Brexit!); but I have a deep admiration for my grandparents (and parents), who moved across an iron-fenced Europe for a better future. I similarly admire those who decided to stay in order to change things for the better from within. I’m awe-struck by the small and recently established environmental NGO, RERI (Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute) that has quickly transformed into a leader on environmental advocacy in Serbia and it also invests huge efforts to raise environmental awareness in a country where the rule of law, and thus also environmental protection, are under threat. I’ve recently joined their forces, as a member of their external Environmental Law advisory board; and I’m very excited about the joint projects ahead.