ECR Pre-Workshops in conjunction with the SGEU 2022 Biennial Conference in Rome, 8-10 June 2022

The ECPR Standing Group on the European Union (SGEU) offered funding for four pre-conference workshops dedicated to Early Career Researchers on 7 June 2022, the day prior to the SGEU biennial conference.

Differentiation in the EU:
Bridging theoretical, empirical and normative perspectives for PhD researchers

Differentiated integration (DI) has become a buzzword in the public debate on the European Union (EU). Intellectuals and political actors see it as a tool to overcome the heterogeneity among EU member states or their neighbours to advance cooperation by relying on coalitions of the willing. Ever since this public attention has spilled over into scholarship, and differentiation has evolved into a genuine subfield of EU studies.

The workshop “Differentiation in the EU: Bridging theoretical, empirical and normative perspectives for PhD researchers” brought together eight PhD candidates and three renowned scholars. Participants were selected to represent the different strands and perspectives in the field. The workshop format allowed each PhD candidate to present their work and receive extensive comments from an assigned senior discussant and the rest of the group. The workshop’s intimate and informal setting facilitated a constructive debate and created a nice convivial atmosphere.

PhD participants reported that the feedback not only helped further develop their papers but also broadened their perspective by opening up different theoretical and ontological viewpoints. Eventually, the conversation turned towards the future of differentiation in the EU and the field more broadly. While differentiation will likely keep playing a role in the debate on European integration, its role might change after Brexit and in the light of new challenges related to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The workshop concluded with a relaxed dinner, but the conversation did not end in Rome. Participants seized the opportunity to explore options for future collaborations and establish long-term relationships. All senior scholars expressed interest in staying in contact after the workshop and providing comments for future work. The PhD participants are embedded in the PhD network on DI in the EU, a subgroup of the ECPR research network on DI, which gathers in a monthly colloquium.

European Legal Mobilization:
Unearthing the Role of Litigants and Lawyers

On June 7th under the auspices of the Standing Group on the European Union (SGEU) conference, seven junior scholars and three senior scholars gathered in Rome for a workshop on “European Legal Mobilization: Unearthing the Role of Litigants and Lawyers.” Over the past decade, a rising interdisciplinary group of scholars has revolutionized our understanding of the politics and history of legal mobilization in the European Union. In this light, workshop participants asked: Who are the actors that have raised European legal claims in court, what has been the extent of their influence over policy outcomes and European integration, and what are the implications of taking their agency seriously?

Junior scholars at the workshop presented cutting-edge work-in-progress under the mentorship of the senior scholars specializing in legal mobilization in Europe. In the first panel – “Do the “Haves” Come Out Ahead in European Legal Mobilization? Litigants and Lawyers before National Courts and the European Court of Justice” – Tommaso Pavone (University of Arizona), Silje Hermansen (University of Copenhagen), and Henning Deters (University of Vienna) revealed evidence that resource inequalities amongst private litigants before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) do not condition judicial outcomes, suggesting that “party capability” theories of legal mobilization may not travel from the domestic level to the European level.

In the second panel – “When does European Legal Mobilization Fail? Civil Society Organizations and European Migration Law” – Virginia Passalacqua (Utrecht University) and Kris van der Pas (Radboud University) revealed novel evidence that European migration and asylum law is oftentimes systematically unmobilized because of resource scarcities amongst the prospective litigants and a closed legal opportunity structure, although a few altruistic interest groups have sought to invoke the European legal rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

Finally, in the third panel – “Corporate Interests and European Law: From Litigation to Alternative Forms of Mobilization” – Andreas Hofmann (Free University of Berlin) and Lola Avril (European University Institute) demonstrate the centrality of corporate litigants and their lawyers, who not only tend to mobilize European law but have also embraced non-litigious forms of legal mobilization, such as lobbying for the creation of the Court of First instance (now the General Court of the EU).

Taken together, this workshop illuminated the role played by litigants (interest groups, individuals, corporations, and government/institutional actors) and lawyers in mobilizing European law, unpacked what motivates their actions, and surfaced what resistances they encounter. In the workshop’s closing discussion, workshop participants discussed how these findings challenge conventional understandings of legal mobilization, judicial policymaking, and European integration, along with pathways for future collaborations, especially amongst the junior scholars

The Politics of European Borders: (dis)Integration, Security and Mobility

Freedom of movement, a core principle of European integration, has in recent years been challenged and contested by crises such as the 2015 refugee crisis and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Research about internal re-bordering processes in the EU stresses a number of conflicts and diverging ideas about the future of Schengen and corresponding explanation potential of theories of European integration.

In light of these developments, this workshop brought together ten early career researchers working on the issue of European integration, with empirical focus on the politics of internal borders and security. The objective of the workshop was two-fold, as it served both as a forum to present and discuss our individual papers, and as a great opportunity for networking among a group of researchers with shared interests in the study of European integration, borders and security. Excellent feedback was provided by our two invited discussants, Ariadna Ripoll Servent, Salzburg University, and Michela Ceccorulli, University of Bologna.

The papers presented covered issues such as security and Schengen, mobility and internal re-bordering, and theories of integration and disintegration. By delving into these research areas, the workshop provided an excellent opportunity to discuss recent theoretical and empirical research developments on the issue of European integration, and the role of borders and rebordering in the security landscape of the European Union. The politics of European borders continue to be an important area of study in a global context where borders are becoming increasingly politicized and securitized.

Blogs, social media and commenting for journalists, is it worth it?
A dissemination advice workshop for early career academics

On 7 June 2022 the OpenEUdebate Jean Monnet network held a Workshop on Research Dissemination for Early Career Researchers with the support of the ECPR Standing Group on the European Union in preparation for the 11th Annual Conference at LUISS University in Rome. The workshop involved 13 PhD candidates from 12 different universities and 4 members of OpenEUdebate.

Prof. Elena García Guitián (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) introduced the OpenEUdebate Network as an example of the need to link research on the EU with dissemination for audiences involved in different capacities in EU debates. Luis Bouza García (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Taru Haapala (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and Álvaro Oleart (Universiteit Maastricht) shared some practical arguments with participants about the specifities, trade offs and exposure that dissemination entails. Students were then divided in 4 groups and asked to discuss their research plans with the organisers and between them. Most of the debate focused on the nature of dissemination and the forms in which research results can be presented to different publics and the deontological implications involved in participating in debates related to the discipline beyond your specific field of research. Gender imbalances in acceptance of invitations to speak were particularly considered.

Finally, Luis Bouza and Álvaro Oleart presented different formats of dissemination and opportunities to publish on European affairs, such as different blogs, policy briefs, podcasts or youtube channels. Participants were invited to stay in touch and submit pieces for consideration in blog or policy brief series.