Opening of the 2021 ELI Annual Conference


On 6 September 2021, attendees of the ELI Annual Conference 2021, which took place remotely, were welcomed by ELI President Christiane Wendehorst and the Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna, Brigitta Zöchling-Jud.

In her opening speech, ELI President Christiane Wendehorst observed that this is the second time the ELI community is forced to hold its Annual Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, ELI has not given in and is as active as ever and probably even more active than ever. It found new ways of working and interacting with its internal bodies as well as engaging with its Members and a European and worldwide audience. A number of new online events have been introduced, notably an ELI webinar series, and a new webinar series will follow in autumn in the form of ELI’s contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe. ELI is, however, strongly determined to resume its tradition of physical meetings as soon as the pandemic permits, while considering the use of hybrid and digital formats in the future.

She went on to present some main developments in ELI since last year’s Annual Conference, highlighting the implementation of a new Membership software, which will revolutionise the way ELI bodies and Members engage with each other. President Wendehorst also pointed out that over the past few months, ELI has established a number of new institutional contacts, which she is confident will prove to be very valuable and bear fruit.

President Wendehorst emphasised that projects, to which the Annual Conference is devoted, remain ELI’s main activity. The current projects span over three focus areas: (a) the Rule of Law in the 21st Century, (b) Law and Governance for the Digital Age; and (c) Sustainable Life and Society. Over the past year, ELI also introduced a new publication series entitled ELI Innovation Papers; further, it submits regular responses to public consultations and rapidly produces other output, where needed, such as the ELI Principles for the COVID-19 Crisis (including its 2021 Supplement on vaccination), which have sparked very positive reactions throughout Europe, and have already been widely published and translated into several languages.

President Wendehorst concluded by briefly presenting the Conference programme and inviting ELI Members to join Members Consultative Committees of ELI projects. She also thanked the sponsors of the ELI Annual Conference for generously supporting the event.

Brigitta Zöchling-Jud, Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna, welcomed participants and underlined that ELI has grown to become one of the most important voices of European legal scholarship and practice. Its independent proposals, opinions and analyses are highly regarded and respected, and networking among European lawyers has been an incomparable success. This is also due to the forward-looking topics covered by ELI projects and events. She expressed her gratitude for ELI’s loyalty to the Vienna University and hopes for continued good cooperation under the new presidency of Pascal Pichonnaz. She concluded by wishing participants insightful discussions. ELI is grateful to Dean Zöchling-Jud for being a part of our Conference.

The recording of the welcome addresses and keynote speech is available below.