Eleanor Spaventa Studies Brexit's Gender Effects

Eleanor Spaventa Studies Brexit's Gender Effects


Where do national jurisdictions end and where does the European Union jurisdiction begin? This is a recurring question in Eleanor Spaventa’s research. A recently appointed full professor at the Department of Law of the Bocconi University, coming from the Durham Law School, she carries out projects on European law, free movement of persons in the EU, fundamental rights, Brexit. She is back to Italy after spending twenty years abroad. “Bocconi offers the opportunity to work on exciting projects and to interact with distinguished economists dealing with EU related subjects. The idea is to create a centre of excellence for the study of the European law”.
Had it not been for an ad she found in a library, Eleanor Spaventa academic path would have been different. That leaflet announced a vacant place at the University of Cambridge. After graduating in Law, “a right middle way between the analytical and the humanistic disciplines that were fascinating me”, she worked for a short period of time at a law firm in Rome. “I wanted to experience the practical side of Law. I realized I was not interested at all and went to Oxford for a PhD in European Law”. She taught at Cambridge for four years before moving first to Birmingham and then to Durham.
Eleanor has fallen in love with European Law during the master’s program. “I was especially interested in the idea that the EU is a totally new and extremely complex experiment that poses important questions. My first research interest was freedom of movement, which until the 1990s was the main topic in European Law. During the PhD, the debate on European citizenship broke out and became the focus of my research, along with welfare and social inclusion”. She is also interested in fundamental rights within the EU.
Eleanor Spaventa collaborates with UK and European institutions. She is a member of MoveS (formerly FreSsco), a network of experts in the fields of free movement of workers and social security coordination funded by the European Commission. She has been part of the team that was asked by the Foreign Office to draw up a draft of the European constitution. She describes the experience as a quantum leap in her way of thinking about the European Law.
Her more recent work deals with Brexit, “a lawyer’s dream, a citizen’s nightmare”. She is particularly concerned about the effects of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU on its most vulnerable citizens and on women. “Think of an Italian woman living in England. She is married with children to an English worker. If the family income is below a certain threshold, she will not be able to apply to stay in the UK under the current agreement. Women are particularly at risk of being excluded. Brexit has a gender effect”.

by Claudio Todesco


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