The international conference 'Freedom Under Pressure' is organised by the Faculty of Law and Criminology of Ghent University on the occasion of the latter's bicentennial. It seeks to gather scholars and practitioners from various disciplines to discuss key fundamental rights and freedoms under pressure in 3 distinct areas:

Theme 1 - Data protection and privacy

Since the Snowden revelations, the adoption in May 2016 of the General Data Protection Regulation and several groundbreaking judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union (Costeja, Digital Rights Ireland, Schrems), data protection and privacy are at the centre of attention of policymakers,industries and the legal research community. Panel discussions will focus on

  1. privacy and data protection tensions in EU-US relations,
  2. privacy challenges related to EU-level security, control and surveillance  mechanisms,
  3. big data and automated decision-making in various sectors and
  4. targeted advertising.


Prof. Joseph Cannataci, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy; Chair in European Information Policy & Technology Law, University of Groningen; Department of Information Policy and Governance, University of Malta

Theme 2 - Freedom of movement in the EU

Freedom of movement is a fundamental achievement of the European integration process. However, this basic right is increasingly put under pressure due to internal and external factors such as the growing disparity after the EUs enlargement, the uncertain implications of Brexit, the threat of terrorism and instability at the EUs borders. Within this context, panel discussions will focus on

  1. challenges to free movement within the EU internal market,
  2. the right to free movement and EU citizenship,
  3. the impact of the EU migration crisis and
  4. the challenges of cross-border crime and criminal justice.


Judge S. O'Leary, European Court of Human Rights

Judge A. Rosas, Court of Justice of the European Union

Theme 3 - Public policy meets property protection

Public policy concerns enter the legal arena in many forms and contexts. In particular, tension frequently arises between public policy considerations, on the one hand, and property protection, on the other hand. This tension cuts two ways. On the one hand, public policy considerations are frequently invoked by State authorities to impose limitations on the enjoyment of property rights by natural and legal persons, including the enjoyment of intellectual property rights. On the other hand, States occasionally hide behind the sovereignty shield to prevent, for instance, adverse enforcement measures, whether at the domestic level or abroad. Against the background of the overarching theme, Pillar 3 of the conference will focus on three different issues:

  1. use and abuse of international investment arbitration as a check on government action,
  2. limits to international immunity from execution and
  3. targeted financial sanctions as a foreign policy tool.


Judge James Crawford, International Court of Justice