Michael Fitzgerald is a first-year Law researcher from Ireland. His legal education commenced during the pandemic when he earned his LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, achieving the highest GPA among his cohort and earning him the honour of delivering the valedictorian at the graduation ceremony. Continuing his academic journey, Michael completed his LLM in European and International Law at the Europa-Institut at Saarland University in Germany, where he also graduated with the highest grade. In addition to his formal education, Michael has been actively engaged in research assistantships. His collaborations include projects with the Dutch Ministry of Justice on class action reform and the public financing of collective redress, contributions to environmental shareholder initiatives with Follow-This, and involvement with Tilburg University's Labor Law Department in surveying trends related to the collective bargaining rights of non-standard workers. Most recently, he served as an assistant to Professor Ciarán Burke of the Jena Centre for Reconciliation Studies, contributing to commentaries and recommendations for constitutional reform in the context of Korean reconciliation.
Before joining the academic world, Michael dedicated nearly a decade to the creative sector. As an artist, curator, editor, writer, and educator, his work was showcased on over thirty occasions in galleries across Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the United States. His art practice began with the production of written texts and drawings which examined the role of language, literature, and myth in the formation of identity and autobiography. These texts were the foundation for the creation of exhibitions which combined video, sculpture, performance, drawing, printmaking, text works and audio installations.
The transition from the world of art to the realm of law may seem abrupt, but for Michael, it is linked by a common thread — his fascination with language that has been with him since childhood. His work through precarious sectors of the economy across Ireland, France, and the Netherlands during the pandemic ignited his desire to transition from the aesthetic commentary of art toward a more advocacy-driven pursuit. He found himself drawn to explore the role of law in addressing a number of troubling global trends, including the obsolescence of large sectors of the labour force, the disintegration of contractual norms, media polarisation, and the erosion of regional and global legal orders.
Coming to the EUI for his PhD studies was a decision fuelled by various factors. Recommendations from mentors, along with the Institute's rich research contributions and the prospect of living in Florence convinced him that it was the right choice. Michael's current research aims to examine the role and responsibility of the EU as a dominant global regulator in manifesting political rights online. His methodology involves a three-phase approach, starting with an examination of current EU online content regulation, followed by a retrospective analysis of early internet governance, and concluding with proposals for alternative models. His long-term aspirations involve a career in academia as a professor, combined with advisory roles within EU institutions, and potentially, publication of research that resonates with both legal experts and the broader public.
Outside of academia, Michael is passionate about sports, including cycling, jogging, and football - he is excited to join the EUI football team. His absolute favourite thing to do is swimming in the sea, especially in the summertime in Ireland. Besides sports, Michael loves to sing and play the guitar, and he has even performed recently at a couple of weddings.
We warmly welcome Michael to the EUI community, and we eagerly anticipate the impact of his research on the legal landscape and beyond.