Tsourdi, E (Lilian)

Evangelia (Lilian) Tsourdi is tenured Associate Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Migration Law and Governance at the Law Faculty of Maastricht University and the Maastricht Centre for European Law. Her research interests lie at the intersection of EU Law, Public International Law, and public policy/administration with a focus on human rights, asylum, migration, and governance theories. Lilian combines legal analysis with empirical qualitative research methods. She was the first scholar to systematically examine EU’s asylum policy from a combined perspective of EU constitutional and administrative law, as well as public policy governance theories. She analysed underexplored elements of asylum administrative governance, including adaptations instigated by the ‘migration crisis’, such as joint implementation patterns through EU agencies and the emergence of more significant forms EU funding. 

For her research Lilian has been awarded a number of prestigious research grants as PI (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship by the European Commission; and VENI and Hestia grants by the Dutch Research Council) or co-PI (WP leader in the ongoing Horizon Europe ENSURED project). She has published her research widely (60 scientific publications) in the form of books, book chapters and international peer reviewed journals e.g. Common Market Law Review, Human Rights Law Review, European Constitutional Law Review, German Law Journal, European Journal of Risk Regulation, International Journal of Refugee Law. She has co-edited a Research Handbook Research Handbook on EU Migration and Asylum Law (co-editor with P. De Bruycker, Edward Elgar, 2022), two books Exploring the boundaries of refugee law: current protection challenges (co-editor with J.P. Gaucci and M. Giuffré, Brill 2015), and Intertwining Criminal Justice and Immigration Control in the EU: Theoretical, Interdisciplinary, and Practical Perspectives (Routledge, forthcoming 2024, co-editor with N. Vavoula and V. Mitsilegas), as well as  four special journal issues (Refugee Survey Quarterly 2016Maastricht Journal on European and Comparative Law 2017European Papers 2022; and Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, forthcoming 2024). 

Lilian is the coordinator of the Law Faculty’s Master European Law School, a member of the Executive Board of the inter-faculty centre MACIMIDE (Maastricht Centre for Citizenship, Migration and Development), as well as a member of the Maastricht Centre for European Law. Lilian further contributes to university life through membership in a number of university-wide and faculty committees, e.g. current member of the Faculty’s Science (2023-2025) and Library committees (2022-2024). She previously served as chair of the working group responsible for implementing the review of the European Law School Master at the Law Faculty (2021),member of the university-wide Recognition and Rewards Committee (subfield: research) (since 2020) and was a member of the Maastricht Young Academy (2020-2023).

Lilian is also active as a current Editorial Board member of the International Journal of Refugee Law published by Oxford University Press, and Deputy Coordinator of the Academic Network for Legal Studies on Immigration and Asylum in Europe, the ‘Odysseus Network’. In addition, she co-chairs with UNHCR the European Academic Refugee Interdisciplinary Network (EARIN), established in the framework of the UN Global Compact on Refugees. EARIN seeks to implement the Global Compact on Refugees through research, teaching, and solidarity with displaced scholars and students. She is furthermore a Senior Research Associate of the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) at the University of London and a Fellow of McLaughlin College at York University in Toronto.

Lilian obtained her PhD from the Law Faculty and the Institute for European Studies of the ULB (December 2016). Prior to her current appointment, she was Assistant Professor at the Law Faculty of Maastricht University (2019-2023) and a visiting professor at Sciences Po Paris (2016-2022). She also held academic positions at the Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford (Departmental Lecturer, 2017-2019), the Law Faculty (Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-2017) and the Migration Policy Centre (Research Associate, 2015) of the European University Institute (EUI), the Institute for European Studies of the Université libre de Bruxelles (Research Associate, 2013-2015), and the Centre Charles De Visscher for International and European Law of Université catholique de Louvain (Research Associate, 2012-2016). Lilian also previously worked as an advisor for a Member of the European Parliament, as consultant for civil society organisations (ICMC, ILGA-EUROPE), as Policy and Advocacy assistant (CCME), and interned with the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (Brussels) and the Greek Council for Refugees (Athens).

Research Projects

i) (co)-Principal Investigator 

WP Leader in the EU Horizon project ENSURED (2023-2026)

project full title "Transforming and Defending Multilateralism: European Union Support for more Robust, Effective and Democratic Global Governance”

The Horizon research project ENSURED examines how the EU and its members can transform and defend global governance to make it more robust, effective and democratic. It is coordinated by Maastricht University and includes 14 universities, think tanks and a civil society partner from Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands as well as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the United States.

NWO Hestia project leader with Nasrat Sayed as laureate (2021-2023)

for the project: ‘External Financial Governance: Migration Management and Solidarity with Non-EU Countries through EU Funding’.

Responsibility sharing remains elusive in the global refugee protection regime, while EU funding is increasingly used to pursue migration management objectives in non-EU countries. Using an original combination of legal and empirical analysis, this project examines why, advances knowledge on governance and global responsibility sharing, and formulates proposals for reform.

NWO VENI grantee (2019-2023)

Financial Governance: Policy Implementation and Solidarity through EU funding

Effective implementation and inter-state solidarity remain elusive in migration. EU migration funding could contribute in addressing these problems but is ill-designed. Using an original combination of legal and empirical analysis, this project analyses why, advances knowledge on the multi-level nature of the European administrative system, and formulates proposals for reform.  

Marie Skłodowska-Curie IF Principal Investigator 2018 round (award)

Financial Governance: Policy Implementation and Solidarity through EU funding, awarded by the European Union/Horizon 2020 Program; host organisation: University of Maastricht/MCEL (not implemented due to the concurrent award of a VENI grant) 

One of two Principal Investigators of a ‘UNHCR Small Grant’ (CONS-0000004103), awarded by the Policy Development and Evaluation Service (PDES) of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2011)

II) Scientific Collaborator and core member of the bidding team

LIMA Project’- Personal Aspirations and Processes of Adaptation: How the Legal Framework Impacts on Migrants’ Agency (2015) (fund: Actions de Recherche Concertée; Wallonia Research Council; award close to 900.000 EUR) implemented at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) 

 ‘MADE REAL Project’-Making Alternatives to Detention in Europe a Reality by Exchanges, Advocacy and Learning (2014) HOME/2012/ERFX/CA/4020 (European Refugee Fund/DG HOME, award close to 500.000 EUR) implemented at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

III) Core member of the bidding team

OMNIA Project’-Odysseus Monnet Network for Immigration and Asylum, 565754-EPP-1-2015-1-BEEPPJMO-NETWORK (fund: Erasmus + program, Jean Monnet actions/DG Education and Culture, award close to 300.000 EUR) implemented at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)


In UM, Lilian (co-)designs, (co)-convenes, and teaches in undergraduate and postgraduate modules of migration law and governance; an undergraduate interdisciplinary module for the BA Global Studies (combining the disciplines of law, economics, and psychology), and a postgraduate module on EU migration and asylum law for the European Law School Master.

Between 2016-2022 she also co-convened and co-lectures in a postgraduate course on EU asylum and migration law at Sciences Po Paris. Before joining UM, Lilian designed, convened, and taught postgraduate modules on international refugee law and human rights law at the University of Oxford (2017-2019). Lilian has guest lectured at postgraduate level modules in Queen Mary University of London, the University of Turin, the University of Pisa, and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). She has experience on long-distance learning having designed and co-convened a postgraduate module on EU asylum law for the School of Advanced Study of the University of London (2015-2017). 

Lilian lectures in specialised summer schools organised by the Odysseus Academic Network at the ULB (since 2014); the Migration Policy Centre at the EUI (2015-2017); and the Department of International and European Law at the University of Athens (2017; 2018). She has trained public officials and practitioners in the framework of activities funded by TAIEX (the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument of the European Commission), the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (‘ELENA’ courses); and the European Joint Masters in Strategic Border Management (University of Salamanca).