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Political Research Exchange

Law as Weapon of the Weak? A Comparative Analysis of Roma and Women’s Groups Legal Mobilisation at the EU Level

Sophie Jacquot
Université catholique de Louvain
Sophie Jacquot
Université catholique de Louvain
Tommaso Vitale
Sciences Po Paris

Based on the comparative analysis of two European-level groups of interest dedicated to the promotion of Roma and women’s rights (the European Roma and Travellers Forum, ERTF, and the European Women’s Lobby, EWL), this paper will explore the diverse and sometimes ambiguous interactions between these groups, European institutions and law, which acts here as both a resource (the EU as an alternative venue compared to the national ones, law as a source of legitimization, case law as a source of rights promotion) and a constraint (the strict and even restrictive perimeter of EU competencies and the definition of who is/isn’t legitimate with regard to this perimeter).
Doing this, this paper will analyse their contrasted relationship to litigation as a rights advancement strategy, bringing new elements to the debate between EU studies specialists, who mainly consider litigation as a weapon of the strongest (i.e. private corporate actors), and socio-legal studies specialists, who mainly consider law as a weapon of the weak. This comparative analysis will help us to underline that when we look at the European system of governance, we see that the main weapon of the weak is less legal mobilisation than adaptation to the specificities of this system of interest representation. Roma and women’s groups are examples of survival of the ‘adaptativest’!
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