Sonya Walkila


Research areas

Description of research and teaching


Doctoral Dissertation:

Horizontal Effects of Fundamental Rights in EU Law   

The grounds for debate on fundamental rights in the European Union are currently more fruitful than ever. Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, not only did the Union avail itself with its own ‘Bill of Rights’, i.e., the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, but is also preparing for its accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. By the same token, the Charter was elevated to the same level as other primary EU law. The frequent horizontal effect of fundamental rights in recent case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union is an indication of a stronger presence and the increased significance of fundamental rights in the Union’s legal order at the time when the boundaries between the public and private spheres are increasingly blurred. The Court of Justice strives to interpret and apply the law in a way which contributes to a build-up of a coherent case law and conforms to fundamental rights as closely as possible. The immediate source of the jeopardising act or degree of the incurred effects should not prove decisive. Rather, the horizontal effect of fundamental rights contributes to the ‘primacy, unity and effectiveness of European Union law’.

The study suggests it is feasible to consider the horizontal effect of fundamental rights as they relate to situations where the legal positions of private parties are transformed in the Hohfeldian sense pursuant to the application of those rights by a court in a legal dispute before it. The incurring legal position depends in turn on the degree of enforceability of the fundamental right norm in question. Because of the semantic and structural openness of fundamental right norms they often necessitate the deduction of a more concrete normative content. This concretization of abstract norms makes adjudicating on the basis of fundamental rights a delicate matter, since it gives great power to the courts. Where this power is extended to the area which typically falls in the sphere of private law, it grows even stronger.

Besides powerfully serving to enhance the inner coherence and consistency of Union law and offering feasible solutions to legal problems, the horizontal application of fundamental rights implies a move towards a strengthened constitutional phase of the integration process. Arguments on fundamental rights entail much more than just formal or dogmatic disputes over the scope of application of an act of EU law. They touch on fundamental questions relating to the functioning of the Union and its constitutional nature which pertains to the entire legal order of the EU.


Areas of research interest:

European Law, Fundamental and Human Rights Law,

Adjudication, Constitutionalism, European Institutions



Finnish, native        Swedish, second home language         English, excellent   

French, good          German, moderate                                    Russian, moderate


Teaching and Lecturing

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law

- Lecturer in the Course 'Eurooppaoikeuden periaatteet, oikeussuojakeinot ja tulkintamallit' (21404) (In English: Principles, Remedies and Methods of Interpretation in European Law

- Lecturer in the Course: 'Oikeudellisen ajattelun perusteet - Analysointi ja argumentaatiotaidot' (200070) (In English: Fundamentals of Legal Reasoning - Analysis and Argumentation Skills)

- Teacher-Coach for the participants in the European Law Moot Court Competition (ELMC)


University of Eastern Finland, Department of Law

- Lecturer in the Course 'Eurooppaoikeuden tavoitteet, periaatteet ja tulkinta' (5311107) (In English: Goals, Principles and Interpretation in European Law)


Further information on UH affiliationGraduate School of Law in a Changing World (OMM) Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Foundations of European Law and Polity

Highlighted publications

  1. The Use of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in Court Adjudication - Stronger RIghts for the Union Citizens?

    Walkila, S. 12.2012 In : Europarättslig tidskrift.2012/15, 4, p. 616-634 19 p.

    Publication: Contribution to journalA1 Refereed journal article

  2. Ikäsyrjinnän kielto EU-oikeuden yleisenä periaatteena

    Walkila, S-H. 2010 In : Lakimies. 2010, 4

    Publication: Contribution to journalA1 Refereed journal article

  3. Euroopan unionin perusoikeuskirja EU-tuomioistuimen oikeuskäytännössä

    Walkila, S-H. 2011 In : Defensor legis : Suomen asianajajaliiton äänenkannattaja.92, 6, p. 813-820 8 p.

    Publication: Contribution to journalB1 Unrefereed journal article

  4. Case C‑392/08, Judgment of the Court 25 March 2010

    Walkila, S-H. 2010 In : European Journal of Risk Regulation. 3

    Publication: Contribution to journalB1 Unrefereed journal article

View all (11) »

Highlighted activities

  1. Nordic Conference on Anti-Discrimination law

    Sonya Walkila (Speaker: Presenter), 25.04.201326.05.2013

    Activity: Conferences, workshops, courses, seminarsOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

  2. EU-prosessit liike-elämän riidoissa

    Sonya Walkila (Speaker: Presenter), 22.05.2013

    Activity: Conferences, workshops, courses, seminarsPublic Talks

View all (32) »

Education Information


ID: 7830080