A growing number of economists consider that we are about to enter a period of « secular stagnation », characterised by an economic growth that would be close to zero. These predictions are supported by the observations made by experts in energy and rare earth. The prospect of a steadily weak economic growth is obviously a source of great concern. It puts at risk the sustainability of our social security scheme, as well as of our educational and public health system. Some people accept this evolution with fatalism. The economic slowdown is inevitable and we must be prepared for it. Others are outright enthusiastic. They regard the end of growth as a blessing giving us an opportunity to reflect on the conditions of a « prosperity without growth », or even of a « voluntary simplicity ». Lawyers are surprisingly quiet in this debate. Yet, it seems to us that they cannot remain indifferent to the advent of a post-growth society.
This research project sets out to frame the role of law and of lawyers in this economic and ecological transition process that is currently emerging from within our society. This very wide research programme is developed both at a theoretical (what is growth? Is prosperity without growth at all possible? What is the lawyers role in a changing society? How does law relate to the economy?) and at a practical level (What concepts, principles, legal regimes can be crafted in order to support and frame this transition process?). A first milestone of this research is the book edited by A. Bailleux Le droit en transition. Les clés juridiques d’une prospérité sans croissance, Brussels, Presses de l’USL-B, 2020.