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School of Law

Dr Niovi Vavoula, (BA, University of Athens); LLM-PhD (QMUL)


Senior Lecturer in Migration and Security

Room Number: Mile End


Dr Niovi Vavoula is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Migration and Security, specialising in EU immigration, criminal and privacy law at Queen Mary University of London. She is Associate Editor of the New Journal of European Criminal Law (NJECL), and member of the ODYSSEUS Academic Network for Legal Studies on Immigration and Asylum in Europe, and the European Criminal Law Academic Network (ECLAN). She is an analyst for EU Live and affiliated to Statewatch to which she regularly contributes with short analyses. She was previously a visiting scholar at ULB - Université Libre de Bruxelles (2014), George Washington University (2022 – Society of Legal Scholars Grantee) and European University Institute (EUI) (2022). She has been the co-cordinator for the United Kingdom (with Violeta Moreno-Lax) in the Jean Monnet Network MAPS (Migration and Asylum Policy Systems) (September 2019 – May 2022), a member of the UK-Irish Criminal Justice Cooperation Network on the future cooperation between the UK and Ireland post-Brexit (January 2019 – September 2020) and a member of the Jean Monnet Network ‘The European Union at the Crossroads of Global Order’ (EUCROSS) (October 2017 – February 2021). Between 2017-2018 she was Post-Doctoral Research Assistant at Queen Mary, University of London and taught EU Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Dr Vavoula holds a PhD (2012-2017 – pass without corrections) and an LLM in European Law (2011 – and recipient of the award for best LLM student specialising in European Law) from Queen Mary, University of London, and an LL.B. from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (2008). Before commencing her doctoral studies she volunteered for the Legal Department of the Greek Council for Refugees and did an internship for the Greek Desk of Eurojust.


Dr Vavoula conducts research in the fields of EU Immigration law, EU Criminal law and EU Data Protection law. Her research agenda develops along three strands. The first research strand revolves around the digitalisation of EU immigration control with insights into international and national initiatives. At its core are the fundamental rights challenges, particularly those relating to the rights to private life, data protection, effective remedies and the principle of non-discrimination, raised by the setting up and operation of EU large-scale information systems for third-country nationals and their interoperability. This was also the topic of her monograph, in which she studies the compatibility of the legal instruments governing information systems and their interoperability with the right to respect for private life. 

The second strand concerns the fundamental rights challenges posed by the establishment of various avenues of processing of personal data for law enforcement purposes. Here, Dr Vavoula’s work focuses on centralised systems processing personal data at EU level, including through EU agencies, particularly Europol, decentralised systems established under EU law to eliminate obstacles among national authorities in exchanging personal data (such as DNA data, criminal records etc) and the co-option of the private sector in conducting state surveillance (PNR, telecommunications metadata, online content moderation). 

In connection to both strands, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques, such as facial recognition and algorithmic profiling, and the fundamental rights challenges it raises fall within her research interests. 

Dr Vavoula’s third research strand concerns the normative foundations and the impact of the criminalisation of irregular migration to both irregular migrants who breach domestic immigration laws and to third actors connected with their irregular status, including those providing humanitarian assistance.



  • Immigration and Privacy in the Law of the European Union – The Case of Information Systems (Brill Nijhoff, 2022).

Edited collective volumes

  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas) (eds), Surveillance and Privacy in the Digital Age: European, Transatlantic and Global Perspectives (Hart 2021).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas and Violeta Moreno-Lax) (eds), Securitising Asylum Flows: Deflection, Criminalisation and the Challenges for Human Rights  (Brill Nijhoff 2020).

Edited special issues in peer-reviewed journals

  • (with Violeta Moreno-Lax) (eds), ‘Regime Interaction in the Regulation of “Unwanted Migration”: From Hostility to Emancipation’  (forthcoming International Community Law Review).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas and Irene Wieczorek) (eds), ‘New Voices in European Criminal Law (Vol. 2)’ (2020) 11(3) New Journal of European Criminal Law.
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas and Irene Wieczorek) (eds), ‘New Voices in European Criminal Law’ ( (2015) 27(1) New Journal of European Criminal Law.

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas, Elif Mendos Ku┼čkonmaz and Elspeth Guild), 'Data Retention and the Future of Large-Scale Surveillance: The Evolution and Contestation of Judicial Benchmarks’ (2022) European Law Journal
  • ‘Unpacking the EU Proposal for an AI Act: Implications for AI Systems Used in the Context of Migration, Asylum and Border Control Management’ (2021/22) 20(4) Turkish Policy Quarterly.
  • ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) at EU Borders: From Automated Processing to Algorithmic Profiling and Facial Recognition in the Era of Techno-Solutionism’ (2021) 31(4) European Journal of Migration and Law 457.
  • ‘‘The COVID-19 Pandemic as a Stress Test to the Right to Protection of Personal Data: The Case of Greece’ (2021) euCrim.
  • ‘Information Sharing in the Dublin System: Remedies for Asylum Seekers Between Gaps in Judicial Protection and Interstate Trust’ (2021) 22(3) German Law Journal 391.
  • (with Evangelia Tsourdi), ‘Killing me Softly? Scrutinising the Role of Soft Regulation in Greece’s Response to COVID-19’ (2021) 12(1) European Journal of Risk Regulation 59.
  • ‘Consultation of EU Immigration Databases for Law Enforcement Purposes: A Privacy and Data Protection Assessment’ (2020) 22 European Journal of Migration and Law 139-177.
  • ‘The "Puzzle" of EU Large-Scale Information Systems for Third-Country Nationals: Surveillance of Movement and Its Challenges for Privacy and Data Protection' (2020) 45(3) European Law Review 348-372.
  • ‘Interoperability of EU Information Systems: The Deathblow to the Rights to Privacy and Personal Data Protection of Third-Country Nationals?’ (2020) 26(1) European Public Law 131-156.
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas), ‘The Evolving EU Anti-Money Laundering Regime: Challenges for Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law’ (2016) 23(2) Maastricht Journal of European & Comparative Law 261-293.
  • (with Felicity Gerry QC and Julia Muraszkiewicz), ‘The Role of Technology in the Fight against Human Trafficking: Reflections on Privacy and Data Protection Concerns’ (2016) 32(2) Computer Law & Security Review 205–217.

Book chapters in edited volumes

  • ‘Article 55 – Representation of Data Subjects’ in Franziska Boehm and Eleni Kosta (eds), Oxford Commentary of the Law Enforcement Directive (OUP, forthcoming 2023).
  • ‘Article 56 – Right to Compensation’ in Franziska Boehm and Eleni Kosta (eds), Oxford Commentary of the Law Enforcement Directive (OUP, forthcoming 2023).
  • ‘Article 57 – Penalties’ in Franziska Boehm and Eleni Kosta (eds), Oxford Commentary of the Law Enforcement Directive (OUP, forthcoming 2023).
  • ‘Afterword’ in Deirdre Curtin and Mariavittoria Katanzariti (eds), Data at the Boundaries of European Law (CUP, forthcoming 2023).
  • ‘Digitalising the EU Migration and Asylum Policy: The Fundamental Rights Implications of Information Systems’ in Philippe De Bruycker and Evangelia (Lilian) Tsourdi (eds), Research Handbook in EU Immigration and Asylum Law (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2022).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas), ‘Databases’ in Valsamis Mitsilegas, EU Criminal Law (2nd edn, Hart 2022).
  • ‘EU Information Systems as Tools in the Fight against Impunity: Enhancing Law Enforcement at the Expense of Privacy and Data Protection Rights?’ in Luisa Marin and Stefano Montaldo (eds), The Fight against Impunity in EU Law (Hart 2020).
  • ‘Databases for Non-EU Nationals and the Right to Private Life: Towards a System of Generalised Surveillance of Movement’ in Francesca Bignami (ed), EU Law in Populist Times (CUP 2020).
  • ‘Criminalisation of irregular migration in the EU: The impact of El Dridi’ in Valsamis Mitsilegas et al (eds), The Impact of European Union Law on National Criminal Law Challenges and Constraints to Individual Liability in the Member States (Hart 2019).
  • ‘The EU Response to the Phenomenon of Foreign Fighters: Challenges for Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law’ in Ulrich Sieber et al. (eds), Alternative, Informal, and Transitional Types of Criminal Justice and the Legitimacy of New Sanction Models in the Global Risk Society (Duncker & Humblot 2018).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas), ‘The Administrative Dimension of EU Criminal Law’ in Herwig Hofmann et al. (eds), Specialized Administrative Law of the European Union - A Sectoral Treatment (OUP 2018).
  • ‘EU Immigration Databases Under Scrutiny: Towards the Normalisation of Surveillance of Movement in an Era of “Privacy Spring”?’ in Gert Vermeulen and Eva Lievens (eds), Data Protection and Privacy under Pressure (Maklu 2017).
  • (with Felicity Gerry and Julia Muraszkiewicz), ‘Using Technology to Combat Human Trafficking: Recognising the Implications for Privacy’ in Nora Cronin and Kimberly Ellis (eds), Human Trafficking (Lawyers & Judges Publishing 2017).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas), ‘The Normalisation of Surveillance in an Era of Global Mobility’ in Philippe Bourbeau (ed), Handbook of Migration and Security (Edward Elgar 2017).
  • ‘The Interplay between EU Immigration Law and National Criminal Law - The Case of the Return Directive’ in Valsamis Mitsilegas, Maria Bergström and Theodore Konstantinides (eds), Research Handbook on EU Criminal Law (Hart 2016).
  • ‘Access to EURODAC by Law Enforcement Authorities and Europol for the Purposes of the Prevention, Detection and Investigation of Terrorist Offences and Other Serious Crimes’ in Despina Anagnostopoulou (ed.), ‘Developments and Challenges of the EU Area of Freedom, Security and Justice’ (Jean Monnet Chair of the University of Macedonia, 2016) (in Greek).
  • ‘‘The Recast Eurodac Regulation – Are Asylum-Seekers Treated as Suspected Criminals?’ in Céline Bauloz, Meltem Ineli Ciger, Sarah Singer and Vladislava Stoyanova (eds), Seeking Asylum in the European Union (Martinus Nijhoff, 2015).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas), ‘Criminal Law: Institutional Rebalancing and Judicialization as Drivers of Policy Change’ in Florian Trauner and Ariadna Ripoll Servent (eds), Policy Change in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice – How Institutions Matter (Routledge, 2015).

Policy reports/studies

  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas, Sergio Carrera and Marco Stefan), ‘Towards a global playing level field for an open and secure online environment - Regulation, enforcement, and the role of public-private cooperation in EU and UK’s democratic and rule of law-based societies’ (Centre for European Policy Studies,  forthcoming 2022).
  • (with Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet and Anastassia Tsoukala), ‘Democratic Oversight of the Police’ (Study commissioned by the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, 2022).
  • (with Valsamis Mitsilegas) ‘Strengthening Europol’ (Study commissioned by the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, 2021).
  • ‘The Transformation of Eurodac from 2016 to the New Pact: From the Dublin System’s Sidekick to a Database in Support of EU Policies on Asylum, Resettlement and Irregular Migration’ (commissioned by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles - ECRE, 2021).
  • ‘Police Information Exchange – The future development regarding Prüm and the API Directive’ (Study commissioned by the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, 2020).
  • 'The European Commission package of ETIAS consequential amendments: Substitute impact assessment' (Substitute Impact Assessment commissioned by the European Parliament Research Service, 2020).  
  • (with Julien Jeandesboz and Susie Alegre), ‘European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): Border Management, Fundamental Rights and Data Protection’ (Study commissioned by the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, 2017).

Other publications (blog posts, book reviews, case notes)

  • Registration of Ukrainian Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection: Eurodac to the Rescue? (ASILE Blog, 25 August 2022).
  • (Op-Ed) ‘Is There Discretion to Contest the Legality of Alert in the Schengen Information System (SIS): Exploring Nachalnik na Rayonno upravlenie Silistra (C-520/20) (EU Law Analysis, 28 June 2022).
  • (Blog post) ‘Strengthening Europol’s Mandate: An Appraisal of the Commission’s Proposal to Amend Regulation (EU) 2016/784 (Europol Regulation)’ (with Valsamis Mitsilegas) (EU Law Analysis, 31 July 2021).
  • (Op-Ed) ‘GDPR Limits to Public Disclosure and Re-Use of Penalty Points on Road Traffic Offences?’ (EU Law Live, 24 June 2021).
  • (Blog post) ‘Overcriminalisation and Digitalisation in the New Plan for Immigration: A Securitised and Disproportionate Approach’ (Refugee Law Initiative Blog, 29 April 2021).
  • (Blog post) ‘Greece’s Covid-19 Response: Not Beyond Reproach’ (with Lilian Tsourdi) (Queen Mary Criminal Justice Centre – Responding to COVID-19 Blog, 5 March 2021).
  • (Blog post) ‘EU-Wide Facial Recognition Forensics & Its Drawbacks’ (about:intel, 10 December 2020) 
  • (Blog post with Elspeth Guild) ‘Travel authorization in the EU: automated processing and profiling’ (openDemocracy, 12 October 2020)
  • (Blog post with Elspeth Guild) ‘The Latest Personal Data Grab: Is the EU a Global Leader in Personal Data Protection?’ (openDemocracy, 28 September 2020)
  • (Op-Ed) ‘Is A Criminal Conviction Sufficient for a Refusal of Long-term Resident Status? – Joined Cases C-503/19 and C-592/10 UQ and SI v Subdelegación del Gobierno en Barcelona’ (EU Law Live, September 2020). 
  • (Case note) ‘Serin Alheto v. Zamestnik-Predsedatel Na Darzhavna Agentsia Za Bezhantsite (C.J.E.U.) (2020) 59(1) International Legal Materials 132. 
  • ‘The Detention of Asylum Seekers Pending Transfer under the Dublin III Regulation: Al Chodor’ Common Market Law Review (August 2019).
  • (Op-Ed) ‘Safeguarding the Right to an Effective Remedy in Asylum Procedures: A Herculean Task for Hungarian Judges?’ (EU Law Live, March 2020).
  • (Case note in blog) ‘Is Processing Biometric Data of Turkish Nationals in a National Database Lawful under the EEC-Turkey Agreement? Reflections on the Judgment in A, B and P (C-70/18)' (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy Blog, December 2019).
  • (Blog post) ‘Interoperability of European Centralised Databases: Another Nail in the Coffin of Third-Country Nationals’ Privacy?’ (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy Blog, July 2019).
  • (Blog post) ‘Of Carrots and Sticks: A Punitive Shift in the Reform of the Visa Code’ (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy Blog, September 2018).
  • (Book review) ‘The Greek Penal Code: English Translation by Vassiliki Chalkiadaki and Emmanouil Billis’ (2017) 8(4) New Journal of European Criminal Law 566.
  • (Blog post) ‘Transatlantic Data Transfers and Privacy Protection: An Ongoing Battle’ (with Valsamis Mitsilegas) (open Democracy, 23 April 2017).
  • (Book review) ‘On the Doorstep of Europe – Asylum and citizenship in Greece by Heat Cabot’ (2017) 31(1) Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law 75. 
  • (Blog post) ‘I Travel, therefore, I Am A Suspect: An Analysis of the EU PNR Directive’ (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy Blog, September 2016).
  • (Blog post) ‘Detecting Foreign Fighters: The Reinvigoration of the Schengen Information System in the Wake of Terrorist Attacks’ (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy Blog, May 2016).
  • (Case note) ‘Exchanging Information on Road Traffic Offences: - A Measure of Police Cooperation or Transport Policy? (Case note on C-43/12 Commission v Parliament and Council)’ (2016) 8(1) New Journal of European Criminal Law 113.
  • (Blog post) ‘Back from the Dead and Standing on Travellers’ Doorstep: The Case of the EU PNR Directive’ (openDemocracy, 9 February 2016).
  • (Editorial) ‘The Constitutional Significance of EU Criminal Law’ (with Irene Wieczorek), 2015 7(1) New Journal of European Criminal Law 3.
  • (with Elspeth Guild), (Non peer reviewed article) ‘Who is Sharing Personal Data Obtained in Immigration Procedures with Whom?’ ILPA European Update (September 2014).
  • (Case note in blog) ‘Detention of irregular migrants – The Returns Directive Shows Its Poor Design in Mahdi (C-146/14 PPU)’ (European Law Blog, 15 September 2014).
  • (Book review) ‘EU Security and Justice after Lisbon and Stockholm by Diego Acosta Arcarazo and Cian Murphy (eds)’ (European Law Blog, 27 May 2014).


Dr Vavoula welcomes proposals for postgraduate supervision in the fields of EU Migration law, EU Criminal law and EU Privacy/Data Protection law.

Dr Vavoula is currently supervising:

  • Andreas Karapatakis: Thesis entitled ‘The Legal Challenges in the Fight Against Money-Laundering Through Digital Currencies’.
  • Ayesha Riaz: Thesis entitled ‘The Impact of the Hostile Immigration Environment on Solicitors and Doctors Who Assist Asylum Seekers and Undocumented Migrants’.
  • Vasiliki Apatzidou: Thesis entitled ‘The Status and Rights of Third Country Nationals applying for International Protection at the EU’s Borders’
  • Marta Minetti: Thesis entitle ‘The Application of Different Legal Devices by the Italian Prosecutors in the Fight Against Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants’

She is also the External Supervisor of Alexandra Karaiskou’s thesis (European University Institute) entitled ‘Technology, Migration & Fundamental Rights in European Law: The Case of Large-Scale Information Systems’.

Public Engagement

Dr Vavoula regularly provides expert advice to EU institutions and agencies as well as civil society organisations in her areas of specialisation. In addition to the (co-)authorship of studies and policy papers published (European Parliament, CEPS, ECRE). 

Consultancy provided (in addition to consultancies resulting in (co-)authored publications: 

  • Conceptualisation and drafting of the contents of an Awareness Raising Tool on EU Large-Scale IT Systems and their interoperability in the area of migration and security (with Teresa Quintel) (since September 2022).
  • Member of the Ethical and Legal Advisory Board of the Horizon 2020 D4FLY Project – Detecting Document Fraud and Identity on the Fly (appointment by invitation since February 2021).
  • Member of the External Ethics Board of the Horizon 2020 ARESIBO Project - Augmented Reality Enriched Situation awareness for BOrder security (appointment by invitation since May 2021).
  • Participation as an expert in the Study supporting an Impact Assessment on the revision of the API Directive conducted by ICF (July 2020 – June 2021).
  • Participation as an expert in the study conducted by the European Migration Network (EMN) and ICF on ‘Data Management in the Registration and Asylum Procedure’ (December 20219 – May 2021).
  • Participation as co-rapporteur for Greece (with Andreas Karapatakis) in the EU-CITZEN Study for SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) (November 2020 – January 2021).
  • Revision of the EU Handbook on Migration and Asylum in collaboration with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) (January 2020).
  • Rapporteur for the United Kingdom in the study ‘Evaluation of Directive (EU) 2016/681 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime’ for the European Commission (Project led by Milieu LTD) (December 2018 – July 2019).
  • Participation in the study ‘Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters and Electronic IT Data in the EU: Ensuring Efficient Cross-Border Cooperation and Mutual Trust (JUD-IT)’ (with the Centre for European Policy Studies – CEPS) (February 2018 – May 2019).
  • Participation as legal expert in the study for the European Parliament LIBE Committee entitled ‘Interoperability of Justice and Home Affairs Information Systems’ (with Optimity Advisors) (December 2017 – April 2018).
  • Participation in the study for the European Commission entitled ‘Fundamental Rights Review of EU Data Collection Instruments and Programmes’ (with Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini) (October 2017 – March 2018).
  • National co-rapporteur for Greece (with Valsamis Mitsilegas) in a study for the European Commission (DG Justice) and conducted by ECORYS and ECLAN on the existence and imposition of minimum criminal sanctions in the EU Member States (July 2014 – January 2015.
  • Researcher (with Valsamis Mitsilegas and Elspeth Guild) in drafting an external evaluation report commissioned by the Fundamental Rights Agency regarding the impact of three FRA reports on asylum and border controls to national legislation and policy (January 2012 – May 2012).

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