THESEUS Final Conference, 17-18 March 2016, Cologne: “The European Union between integration and disintegration – Reflections on the last decade and beyond”

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For more than 50 years, European integration has been called a success story built up around the narrative of an ‘ever closer Union’. Since the financial and economic crisis, however, a serious concern of disintegration has been striking the European Union. Possible scenarios range from a collapse of the EU system to fragmentation, differentiation, and partial disintegration. Exit schemes like Grexit and Brexit are openly discussed, tendencies of renationalisation arise. External pressures reinforce this trend. In view of these manifold challenges, how might Europe’s future look like?

The THESEUS conference dealt with a reflection on the past and current crises taking place in and around Eurotheseus ape, and discussed if and how those have been working as catalysts for further institutional, economic or political integration or caused steps of disintegration. It discussed a set of theoretical understandings, concepts, and definitions of the disintegration phenomenon itself as well as possible causalities and interplays between integrative and disintegrative processes.

More than 100 international academics, politicians, young researchers, and the interested public discussed past and possible future developments of European integration and disintegration processes at the Fritz Thyssen Foundation in Cologne. They found that challenges at hand ask for new political and scientific approaches – leaving some speakers more optimistic than others regarding the EU’s future.

theseus wessels“In EU politics, we have been involved in a lot of subjects, but probably reflected too little on possible crises and adequate reactions to them”, stated Chairholder Wolfgang Wessels, University of Cologne, in his opening remarks. He described the conference as a floor to reflect crises like a possible ‘Brexit’ or ‘Grexit’, tendencies of renationalization and the success of anti-EU parties or the refugee movement towards Europe to better understand such challenges and contribute to an envisaged peaceful future European cooperation.

Defining the term ‘crisis’

Defining the often randomly used term ‘crisis’ was a first step to do so. Hartmut Kaelble, Humboldt-University Berlin, distinguished between five types of crises and positioned the EU in the second most challengeable: a crisis in which both governments and the public are involved. “We are thus not in the worst position contrasting to times after the Second World War in which we faced a system crisis”, concluded the Historian.

Johannes Pollak, Institute for Advanced Studies, stated that the EU has always been about crisis management and that it is even crucial for readjustments to its set-up. The tricky element though was that external developments such as conflicts in Syria or Ukraine affected the EU making it more difficult for the Union to react than to internal conflicts only.

theseus umbachGaby Umbach, European University Institute, illustrated a two-fold picture: On the one hand the EU facing manifold fields of conflicts around EU politics and on the other hand the – despite growing radicalisation among a minority group – relatively positive perception of EU citizens towards the EU environment. She called for the often raised necessity of improved citizen-involvement to solve the conflictual situation at hand ending with a quite optimistic picture.

Reflecting characteristics of the institutional architecture of the Union

theseus neuholdTalking about institutional characteristics of EU crisis management, the panellists stressed a rising importance of intergovernmental decision-making among heads of state or government. This in turn circumvented political debate probably resulting in “more efficiency vis-à-vis less legitimacy” as Christine Neuhold, Maastricht University, questioned when showing the rising number of Trilogues, in which a limited group of representatives of European Commission, Council, and European Parliament arrive at political solutions.

theseus monarJörg Monar, College of Europe, spoke of shrinking impact of European Parliament and Council – despite more competences following the Lisbon Treaty (2007) – due to ‘last-minute decision-making’. Olivier Rozenberg, Sciences Po Paris, presented a recent study depicting shrinking numbers of legislation and Philippe de Schoutheete, Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations, illustrated the trend towards informal meetings by the example of talks on the maintenance of the Eurozone.

Discussing conflicts in the EU’s neighbourhood

How crucial a higher attention for developments beyond EU borders and a more active engagement of the EU in solving conflicts in Syria, Libya or between Russia and Ukraine was, stressed for instance Atila Eralp, Middle East Technical University, or Christopher Hill, University of Cambridge. Eralp stated the high potential of the EU in creating partnerships. He called for a more consistent position in EU-Turkey relations. Hill reminded the audience of the ‘mistake’ to address domestic and foreign policy separately.

Outlining possible exits of single member states and EU fragmentation

With regards to possible exits of EU member states resulting from the many facets of challenges surrounding EU politics, Brigid Laffan, European University Institute, warned of domino effects, in which further countries might follow for instance the exit candidate United Kingdom (UK). She moreover addressed exit consequences regarding a new power balance in the EU, in case UK as “critical counter balance” left the Union.

theseus tekinFunda Tekin, Institut für Europäische Politik and Centre international de formation européenne, illustrated that exits on the other hand might also lead to more integration in terms of a ‘core Europe’ and Frank Schimmelfennig, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, presented differentiated integration as a tool for an ‘ever closer Union’.

theseus beggThe official part of the conference was closed with the concluding remarks of THESEUS Chairperson Wolfgang Wessels, University of Cologne, and Iain Begg, London School of Economics and Political Science. Both interpreted the topics on the conference agenda as a sign for the need to actively address problems at hand before action was too late, and to redefine theoretical models of European integration to better address processes of differentiation and disintegration. Wessels furthermore stressed the importance for a continuation of research and teaching to improve the understanding of EU politics and a potential engagement.

Keynote speech and award ceremony

theseus sussmuthAgainst the background of the current crisis situation keynote speaker Rita Süssmuth, former President of the German Bundestag, appealed repeatedly: “We must communicate much more”, looking back at many years of involvement in exchange with national and EU political actors. “Today’s politicians need to pay more attention the values and benefits of our community as has been done by heads of state or government in the Union’s earlier years”. She supported the course of Chancellor Angela Merkel in the refugee movement towards Europe – one of the EU’s most pressing ‘crises’. “No quick solution is at reach – therefore it’s best to say we work on it”.  Central elements of that work are engagements in shrinking the percentage of unemployment and social exclusion, argued Süssmuth.

After her speech, the THESEUS Awards were remitted. Joseph Weiler, President of the prestigious European University Institute in Florence, received the THESEUS Outstanding Award for his many years of outstanding engagement in European integration research. The THESEUS Promising Award went to the two junior scientists Leonhard den Hertog, Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, and Martin Mendelski, University of Trier.

More information about the THESEUS project

 

THESEUS Newsletter September 2015

THESEUS_Newsletter_Sep2015The THESEUS Newsletter September 2015 is now available online.  Twice a year, it features interesting THESEUS project activities, informs about recent and upcoming events and introduces THESEUS partner institutions. The third edition of the newsletter contains the following information:

FEATURE TOPIC

  • THESEUS Summer School 2015

PROJECT ACTIVITIES

  • THESEUS Europe@Work 2015
  • Inaugural Lecture of THESEUS Visiting Professor Emiliano Grossman
  • Award Lecture of THESEUS Outstanding Award Winner Prof Loukas Tsoukalis

PROJECT PARTNERS

  • Centre d‘Études Européennes, Sciences Po Paris

Download the Newsletter

We wish you an enjoyable reading!

TEPSA Pre-Presidency Conference in Rome, 24-25 March 2014

TEPSAiaiTHESEUSThe TEPSA Pre-Presidency Conference was held in 24 and 25 March in Rome before the 2014 elections to the European Parliament.

Growth, employment and immigration top the agenda of Italy’s EU presidency. IAI with TEPSA have prepared a background paper assessing these and other challenges and presented a series of recommendations to the Italian foreign ministry. European and national officials as well as European researchers and practitionners participated in the discussions.

Please find here the IAI background paper, the recommendations as well as the programme.

Please find here the report.

THESEUS Conference “A vision for post-­crisis Europe: Towards what kind of Political Union?” Vienna, 17-­18 October 2013

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THESEUS conference on  A Vision for Post-Crisis Europe: Towards what kind of Political Union?” was organised in Vienna on 17-18 October 2013 in  the Austrian Institute for International Affairs.

Within the last few years a vital debate about the future of European integration has been launched notably regarding the issue of “political union”. Under the pressure of the crisis, the issue of ‘finalité politique’ has again returned to the heart of academic and public debates. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel called countries to give up more powers to Europe “step by step” as way out of crisis. The French President François Hollande declared that he wanted to take a European initiative for a “economic government” and “political union” within two years. In contrast in the UK, a new debate on the repatriation of competences towards the nations has been launched.

While most of the academic and political debates deal with the consequences for the different policy fields or the institutional set-up of the Union, there are only a few exchanges about national perceptions and differing understandings. In order to capture the ambiguous meanings and developments, besides different national perspectives the conference will discuss conceptual and theoretical approaches. In doing so future strategies and roadmaps will be identified.

The are three conference background papers available, written by Valentin Kreilinger (Notre Europe), Stefano Braghiroli (University of Tartu) and Laura Ventura (Trans European Policy Studies Association).

Here you can consult the Program of THESEUS Conference as well as the Report of the THESEUS Conference.

About the project: THESEUS is a common initiative of Sciences Po Paris, the Jean-Monnet-Chair for Political Science at the University of Cologne, the Trans European Policy Studies Association (Brussels) and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (Cologne). Since 2007, THESEUS aims at fostering an open and constructive dialogue about the future challenges of Europe between academia and politics but also between generations. Thereby its purpose is to establish a European interdisciplinary and cross-generational network and to enhance the mutual understanding of societies in Europe. In doing so it enables especially junior researchers to create a sustainable network both of young leaders and of recognised experts from academia and politics.

For more information please visit: www.theseus-europe.net

THESEUS Seminar for Young Leaders 2013 “The Future of EU Economic Governance”, 17-21 June 2013, Brussels

logoTo promote interdisciplinary and international networks among a new generation of Europeans, each year the THESEUS Seminars look for 20 excellent young professionals and researchers to discuss European challenges with high-level experts and decision makers. In view of the current debate on Economic Governance in Europe, the seminar dealt with a Moot Court simulation. Three days of intensive preparation were  followed by the Simulation exercise.

Consult the Program THESEUS Summer School 2013. For further information, please see http://theseus.uni-koeln.de/.

 

THESEUS Doctoral Workshop 2013, May 2013 Paris

THESEUS Doctoral Workshop 2013, The EU and the Global Crisis: Challenges to EU Governance, Policy Responses and the Legitimacy Gap, 21-22 may 2013, Sciences Po, Centre d’études européennes, Paris

THESEUS is a European network of thinkers, actors and ideas whose aim is to foster an open and constructive dialogue between academia and politics about the future challenges of Europe. Emerging from a Franco-German initiative, ThESEUS is striving to enhance the mutual understanding of societies in Europe. THESEUS is a joint activity of Sciences Po Paris, the Jean Monnet Chair of the University of Cologne, the Trans European Policy Studies Association (Brussels) and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (Cologne). For further information about the project and its activities please visit www.theseus-europe.net,

This THESEUS doctoral seminar allowed doctoral students to exchange ideas and discuss their research with their peers and senior academic colleagues.

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Mirja Schröder, THESEUS programme director, has been awarded the Ehrhardt-Imelmann-Prize

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Mirja Schröder, THESEUS programme director, has been awarded the Ehrhardt-Imelmann-Prize for her diploma thesis on “A ‘gouvernement économique’ for the Economic and Monetary Union? French and German conceptual convergences within the global financial and economic crisis” (submitted in 2010). Since 1997 the award, remitted by the University Cologne, distinguishes exceptionally motivated and committed students for their excellent theses dealing with socio-political relevant research questions. The award is endowed with 3000 EUR. Congratulations!

Theseus Seminar for Young Leaders 2012 “The Future of EU Economic Governance”, 2-6 July 2012, Brussels

Between the 2 and 6 July 2012 TEPSA and the University of Cologne co-organised the THESEUS Seminar for Young Leaders on “The Future of EU Economic Governance” at the Fondation Universitaire. The THESEUS Seminar for Young Leaders aims to promote interdisciplinary and international networks among a new generation of Europeans. This year 18 excellent young professionals and researchers participated at the International Summer School which was followed by a two day European Council Simulation Exercise.

The participants had been accorded their role in the Simulation Exercise already two month before the actual Summer School and had to draft position papers of their delegations. The organisation team paid great attention to the fact that participants did not represent the country of their real origin.

During the Summer School the participants were offered a broad range of information on EU Economic Governance. As in previous years the Seminar featured prominent speakers from international organisations, politics, as well as high-level academics to provide an in depth knowledge on the main topics dealt with in academia as well as on the practitioner’s perspective.

The first panels aimed at giving a general introduction to the broader framework of Economic Governance, especially for participants not familiar with economics. To this end, Iain Begg from the London School of Economics provided an extensive overview of the state of Economic Governance, Jacques Le Cacheux from Université de Pau elaborated on the different issues of the Euro zone and Jean-Victor Louis from the Université Libre de Bruxelles focussed on the legal and institutional aspects of an economic and financial union. Finally, Jacques Pelkmans from the College of Europe completed the introduction into the topic, by discussing different possibilities to enhance growth within the European Union.

Extensive insights from the practitioners’ point of view were given among others by Carsten Pillath, Director General of the DG Economic Affairs and Competitiveness in the Council of the EU who discussed actively with the participants the complexity of the institutional constellations within the framework of Economic Governance. The participants especially appreciated his insights into the way European Council meetings actually work, because they represented a perfect preparation for the later Simulation Game. Moreover, the Summer School aimed at identifying the different national perspectives of euro-insiders and -outsiders. To this end, Brendan Donnelly from The Federal Trust in London focussed on the perception by the United Kingdom; Cinzia Alcidi from the Centre of European Policy Studies in Brussels discussed with Georges Siotis, Member of the Task Force “Greece” of the European Commission, the evolution of the Greek case and Jean-François Jamet from Sciences Po Paris pointed out the Franco-German controversies.

Furthermore, the participants were offered time slots for extensive informal pre-negotiations among their delegations. They were assisted by Iain Begg who accompanied the Summer School as this year’s THESEUS Resident Researcher. Beyond own teaching, he was animating the debate, supervising the working groups and advising the participants on an individual basis, too.

Before and during the European Council meeting, the participants made remarkably use of the full range of means of virtual communication and were especially taking advantages of all breaks to coordinate their work and to find allies for their positions. Even if the negotiations remained friendly and respectful, there could be observed some heated debates on certain issues, especially prior to reaching a final agreement. Last but not least, the European Council Simulation was observed and evaluated by Wolfgang Wessels, chairperson of THESEUS and professor at the University of Cologne. The evaluations submitted by the participants showed that the Summer School with the Simulation Exercise was a very successful and beneficial event.

For further information such as the final report, the conclusions and pictures please see on THESEUS Website.

THESEUS Award for Promising Research on European Integration 2013

The THESEUS Award for Promising Research on European Integration distinguishes an excellent piece of work of a junior researcher in the field oflogo European integration, which analyses an on-going challenge for the European Union and its member states:

 * with regard to the institutions, policies or policymaking processes of the European Union or

 * from a comparative perspective across the member states of the European Union,

 * recommending potential institutional or policy solutions.

The rewarded work will be a Ph.D. thesis or a publication in a major journal (published within the last three years from application deadline). Disciplines covered include especially – but not exclusively – political or social sciences. There is no nationality or geographical criteria for selection. THESEUS accepts both direct applications and nominations through third parties.

The award is endowed with 3000 €and the winner will be involved into the activities of the THESEUS network. The public presentation will take place in October 2013.

THESEUS is a common initiative of the Centre d’études européennes de Sciences Po Paris, the Jean Monnet Chair for Political Science at the University of Cologne, the Trans European Policy Studies Association and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Cologne. Its aim is to establish a European network of thinkers, actors and ideas and to foster an open and constructive dialogue between academia and politics about the future challenges of Europe. Emerging from a Franco-German initiative, THESEUS is striving to enhance the mutual understanding of societies in Europe.

Applications: Deadline 15/06/2013

Please send your informal application, consisting of a two-page summary of your work, your academic CV (including publications) and situating your work in your on-going research and academic activities, as well as a copy of your Ph.D. thesis or publication by 15/06/2013 via e-mail to Mirja Schröder, Dipl. Vw. (mirja•schroeder©uni-koeln•de). The language of the application dossier is English; there is no language criterion for publication or Ph.D. thesis.

Contact and further information: Mirja Schröder, Dipl. Vw. (mirja•schroeder©uni-koeln•de  (mirja•schroeder©uni-koeln•de)  ), www.theseus‐europe.net

Past events at the Jean Monnet Chair, University of Cologne – Autumn 2014

CologneSteering Group Meeting “PEGASUS”
6/7 November 2014, German Turkish University, Istanbul

The PEGASUS project hosted a steering group meeting in Istanbul to further discuss and finalize the work on a joint integrated European Ph.D. programme.

Prof. Dr. Christine Neuhold gave a guest lecture on 7 November: “Elections to the European Parliament 2014. What is really different this time?”

Inaugural Lecture: THESEUS Visiting Professorship
27 October 2014, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Cologne

On 27 October, THESEUS Visiting Professor Dr Céline Belot held her inaugural lecture ‘The emergence of the EU as a political issue: cause for despair or source of hope for European integration’ at the Fritz Thyssen Foundation in Cologne. In her speech the French researcher from Sciences Po Grenoble analyzed both general developments and characteristics of politization within the EU as well as specifics of the French case. Her lecture was followed by a lively discussion with the audience, in which single aspects could be closer depicted.

THESEUS Award

 

THESEUS Award for Promising Research on European Integration 2011

The THESEUS Award for Promising Research on European Integration distinguishes an excellent piece of work of a junior researcher in the field of European integration, which analyses an ongoing challenge for the European Union and its member states

· with regard to the institutions, policies or policymaking processes of the European Union or

· from a comparative perspective across the member states of the European Union,

· recommending potential institutional or policy solutions.

The deadline for nominations was 16 May 2011.