The underpinning of EGPP’s research areas is a new way of looking at the EU. We know that the concept of ‘governance’ is better suited than that of ‘government’ to describe the way public policy is conducted in the European Union, and since the mid 1990s, European governance has evolved substantially. The literature has flourished alongside these transformations, and some authors have referred to a ‘governance turn’ in EU studies. This turn, indeed, enhanced our knowledge of how the Union’s policy processes work, how its governance tool-kit evolved and which is the structure of actors involved in governing the Union. This research tradition, however, neglected important questions about Europe’s Union which can no longer be overlooked in the current context of a fractured and fractious Europe. In this context, the Programme focuses on four broad thematic axes of research:
- a. Whither Europe’s Union?
Europe’s multiple crises and wider transformations at global level suggest that there is a need to return to the ‘big questions’ regarding European integration and the nature of the political, legal and economic order/disorder that is emerging within the EU and the wider Europe. The constitutional decade of the 2000s ended with the implementation of the Lisbon treaty and the subsequent crises exposed Europe’s cleavages and fractures. The limits of EU solidarity and burden sharing were sharply exposed. Key EU regimes – the Eurozone and Schengen – came under considerable stress and Brexit introduced a contingency to the membership of all states.
The historical dynamic and context of the EU’s evolution is the focus of research at the Alcide De Gasperi Research Centre, a joint effort of the Historical Archives of the European Union and the History Department of the European University Institute.
The main focuses of this research theme are: Integration, Differentiation and Disintegration; Impact of different crises on EU and integration; State & EU transformations; Democracy and accountability in a multi-level system; Identity, culture and social solidarity; Understanding European integration.
- b. Multilevel Politics in a Time of Turbulence
Today, the political scenario across Europe is indeed turbulent. The Great Recession had a profound impact on democratic politics in the member states and on the consequences of EU level action for domestic politics. In many member states, a pronounced legacy of the crisis is the volatility of domestic politics and the severe punishment of governing parties. The mainstream parties are being squeezed and the vote share of challenger parties have increased. In a number of countries of East Central Europe there has been a pronounced shift to the right; the ‘European project’ has become much more politicised and contested. There is also a widening of the use of referendums in the member states: all of these referendums were held within one country but by their nature had an impact on other member states and the EU as a whole.
The main focuses of this research theme are: Multi-level politics in the EU; The politicization of the European integration process; The impact of national referendums on the EU.
- c. European Governance, Institutions and Law
Research on European governance, institutions, treaties and law has been at the core of the Robert Schuman Centre’s mission from the outset. The Union provides a rich laboratory for the study of multileveled governance, new modes of governance and the governance tool kit deployed by this emerging compound polity. The European Governance will continue to be a focus of research at the Schuman Centre as EU governance is highly innovative and continually develops both additional modes and new fields in response to problems.
The main focuses of this research theme are: EU Constitutionalism (constitutional values, fundamental rights and rule of law); Formal and informal institutional developments in EU governance; EU institutions as de-commitment devises; Governance processes and tool kit across different policy fields.
- d. Political Economy and Public Policy
In most policy areas, the EU shares responsibility with the member states; the balance between collective EU responsibility and member state head-room is a major issue in EU public policy making. The Union has amassed considerable power in the regulatory sphere by deploying a strategy of integration through law but has much weaker capacity for positive integration. The multiple crises confronting the Union exposed the limits of the Union’s public finance capacity and its struggle to address distributive and re-distributive economic themes.
The main focuses of this research theme are: Core-periphery dynamics in the EU; Core-periphery economic dynamics; The future and funding of the welfare state/Social Security and social investment; Domestic welfare and transborder migration/movement; The policy consequences of Trump & Brexit.