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WCEE Lecture. Closer to Michigan or Madrid? Reflections on Ireland’s Unique Geopolitical Position

Rossa Fanning, Attorney General of Ireland
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
4:00-5:30 PM
1010 Weiser Hall Map
For more than two decades, Irish politicians, economists and legal scholars have commented on whether Ireland is “closer to Boston than Berlin” in its orientation. The U.S. and Europe are often presented as offering competing visions of prosperity in liberal democracies, with different understandings of the role of government.

Ireland has a unique position (and not only in geographical terms) sitting between these two worldviews. Ireland has a close economic relationship with the U.S. Ireland’s culture and legal system has often drawn on American examples. However, Ireland is also a Member State of the European Union, is committed to the project of European economic integration and is bound by laws passed by its institutions.

This question of Ireland’s relationship to the US and Europe merits further consideration in light of more recent developments on both sides of the Atlantic. This lecture will consider how Ireland combines ideas and insights from both systems, drawing on the wisdom of both Boston and Berlin, both Michigan and Madrid. It will examine the pattern of legal, cultural and political links between Ireland, the U.S. and Europe. It will also emphasize the role that these ties have played in nurturing Ireland’s economic development and success.

Rossa Fanning was appointed as Attorney General of Ireland on 17 December 2022. In that role, he attends Cabinet as the legal adviser to the Government and the chief law officer of the State. Prior to his appointment as Attorney General, he was a Senior Counsel in private practice at the Irish Bar with a varied caseload spanning commercial law, public law and judicial review, professional negligence, product liability, defamation, and privacy law. He graduated from University College Dublin with a First Class Honours BCL degree in 1997. He was awarded the Swift McNeill Memorial Prize, a Postgraduate Research Scholarship by UCD, and was called to the Irish Bar in 1999 after graduating from King’s Inns in the first place as the John Brooke Scholar. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and a University Fellowship to pursue an LL.M. at the University of Michigan, where he graduated in 2000.

This event will be presented in person in 1010 Weiser Hall and on Zoom. Webinar registration is required at

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: European, International, Law, Politics
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, Center for European Studies, International Institute, Law School

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The International Institute’s centers sponsor numerous conferences, lectures, exhibits, and cultural performances throughout the year. These events are designed to educate the university community and the public about global issues and inspire discussion and dialogue. 

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