About me

My work seeks to add to well-established areas of research, primarily multilevel governance theories and the regulation of public goods with collective action dimensions, such as climate change. Within these fields, I focus on the "analytical dark matter" that has been under-studied by legal academia thus far. For example: What interactions must be kept in mind when implementing and enforcing environmental policy across multiple jurisdictions? How does this affect our choice of (environmental) regulatory instruments? Or what is the role of cities within a multi-level governance system such as the EU and the United States?

My research agenda combines legal, economic and political science insights and methodologies in order to do justice to the cross-boundary nature of today's increasingly complex problems. My doctoral research in law and economics (University of Amsterdam - 2012) and my postdoctoral work in law and political science (Ostrom Workshop - 2013, Harvard - 2014) have enabled me to consider legal problems from different angles.

More detailed information about past and current projects can be found under 'Research'.

I have had the opportunity to teach environmental law and public law related courses in a range in jurisdictions, including the United States, Switzerland, Australia, Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom. My teaching is structured around mentorship and focused on stimulating an interactive classroom culture where students feel comfortable to express their views, while learning to respectfully engage with conflicting views. For a full listing of my past and current teaching experiences, see my CV.

Academic Appointments

[09/2014 - present] Worcester College, University of Oxford- Tutorial Fellow in Law (EU Law, UK Constitutional and Administrative Law, Environmental Law)

[09/2012 - present] ETH Zurich - Visiting Lecturer (Environmental Regulation: Law & Policy)

[Spring 2016] Visiting Professor Notre Dame University

[01/2013 - 01/2014] Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis - Postdoctoral Researcher

[08/2012-01/2013] University of Amsterdam - Postdoctoral Researcher

[01-07/2012] Amsterdam Center for European Law and Governance, University of Amsterdam - Visiting Lecturer (European Law)

[2010/2011] New York University School of Law - Hauser Global Research Scholar

[2008/2012] University of Amsterdam - Ph.D. Candidate


[29 May 2014] LL.M. Harvard University Law School

[11 May 2012] Ph.D. Environmental Law & Economics (cum laude) - University of Amsterdam

[20 June 2008] LL.M. European Private Law - University of Amsterdam

[22 June 2006] LL.B. Scots Law - University of Edinburgh

[28 May 2004] B.A. (Hons.) Social Sciences (minor Humanities) - University College Utrecht, University of Utrecht


Latest publications:

"Local Governments as Subjects and Objects of EU Law" Download via SSRN

"Implementation Challenges for Emission Trading Schemes: The Role of Litigation"
Download via SSRN

"The Allocation of Regulatory Competence in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme"
(Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Information/buy from Cambridge University Press

Buy on Amazon


Other news

2 August 2016 - "Negotiating Brexit: Can the UK have its cake and eat it?" with Ana Bobic
Centre on Constitutional Change blog

29 June 2015 - bEUCitizen Annual Conference (EU FP7 Project)
City Citizenship in the EU [keynote]


Environmental Law & Policy

Building off my doctoral research (see below) I continue to publish widely on environmental law and policy, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on jurisdictional issues and the use of different policy instruments.

Together with Arden Rowell, I am working on an exciting new project called "Primers in Environmental Law". This series of five books will set out the foundational elements of environmental law in key jurisdictions, including the United States, the EU, Brazil, China and India. The series is under contract with University of California Press. The first two books on the United States and the EU are scheduled for publication in 2018.

A Union of City-States

This research intends to highlight the role of European cities in the EU's multilevel legal structure.

Europe's cities are considered the engine behind economic, social and political innovation within the European Union and as such enjoy great prominence within political debates and policy-making. Simultaneously, Europe's urban centres suffer from legal 'invisibility' within the EU: cities do not form a separate level within European multi-level governance, or a legally recognized political community within the EU. As a result, any legal position occupied by cities within the EU depends on their domestic status. This allows some local actors to be very successful in forging a relationship with the EU, while others are excluded. Moreover, much of this influence takes place through informal channels (e.g. lobbying) which further obscures the influence of these actors on the EU stage. Cities are in a unique position to resist or foster the application and implementation of European laws, as well as create conducive conditions for bottom-up democracy. A meaningful balance between institutional autonomy for the Member States and legal certainty for its local governments and citizens must be struck. As the centrality of cities in the lives of European citizens increases, the legal relationship of 'the city' with the EU, the relevant Member State(s), 'visitors' (i.e. non-residents) and its inhabitants must be proactively examined.

A Polycentric Europe?

Post-doctoral research funded by the Niels Stensen Fellowship
[Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in Bloomington, Indiana (USA)].

The research attempts to embrace, rather than simplify, the unprecedented complexity of modern economic, social and environmental problems by applying the framework of polycentrism to several policy areas within the European Union. Polycentricity describes a system of governance that encompasses many centers of decision-making, which are formally independent of each other. Despite this formal independence, these centers do interact with each other in a coherent and predictable manner through competitive relationships, and/or various contractual and cooperative undertakings. By acknowledging the possibility of overlapping jurisdictions, a polycentric governance model extends not only to the public actors, but also encompasses private and voluntary actors. Moreover, it enables us to consider overlapping realms of responsibility and functional capacity of different jurisdictions.

Competence Allocation &
Regulatory Functioning: A Study of the EU ETS

PhD project
University of Amsterdam
My dissertation argues that existing legal and law-and-economics literatures do not distinguish sufficiently between different elements of the regulatory process in their (de)centralization assessments. Rather than viewing the regulatory process as a black box labelled "policy making", the book argues that the regulatory process is made up by three distinct phases: norm setting, implementation, and enforcement. These regulatory powers (also referred to as "competences") play distinctly different roles within regulatory process and require different strengths from the regulators to which they are assigned. In a multi-level system, the decision to allocate regulatory power to a certain level of governance should therefore be made for each competence individually: the binary choice to (de)centralizing policymaking is too imprecise.

This theoretical framework is applied to a study of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), which is aimed at the mitigation of greenhouse gases through emissions trading. The deviations from the theoretically first-best allocation in the trading phases of the EU ETS can explain some of the problems in the earlier trading phases. In turn, these deviations can be explained by the political economy of the EU ETS, which shows that first-best allocation is hard to achieve during the foundation of a new regulatory regime due to the relative strength of certain stakeholders in the political process.


Twitter: @JosephinevZeben

Email: josephinevanzeben[at]gmail.com


For recent publications, see "News"

For full list of publications, see CV

For downloadable papers, visit SSRN

If you need to access any of my articles that are locked behind pay-per-article walls and not available on SSRN, please contact me by email and I will be happy to send you a copy.



Download my CV: