EUCOPAS PhD Workshop: Democracy in the EU and its Member States

Centre d’études européennes
End Date

In EUCOPAS seminars PhD candidates and early post-docs discuss their research with peers and senior academic colleagues in an intense two-day workshop format. The seminars are supposed to help the young researchers to step out of tight disciplinary boundaries and to link their particular research to broader questions concerning European integration.

The “democratic deficit” of the European Union has been on the political and academic agenda at least since the treaty of Maastricht and the end of the so-called ‘permissive consensus’, i.e. the silent approval of increasing European integration by national electorates - or ordinary citizens’ ‘indifference’ (Van Ingelgom) towards European integration. With the recent eurozone crisis and in particular the question of financial aid to Greece, EU issues seem to undergo an unprecedented rise in politicization and contestation, in particular through Eurosceptic parties.

Despite an apparent core agreement on democracy as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ (Lincoln, Gettysburg address), how democratic systems play out in reality depends very much on socially acceptable beliefs about democratically legitimate governance. Democracy has a polity, politics and policy dimension, balancing representation against participation, cooperation against conflict, inclusion against exclusion, and the role of the state against the role of the market for the achievement of the public good. In the EU, the question which democratic standards should apply to decision-making, is further complicated by the fact that it depends strongly on assumptions about the EU’s nature and future trajectory.

Up to the Treaty of Lisbon, decision-makers have reacted to growing discontent with the increasing empowerment of representative democracy by means of the European Parliament as the EU’s only directly elected representative body. However, the EP is itself under stress to prove its legitimacy. Difficult European elections are looming on the horizon in 2019. With recently more differentiated integration, national parliaments have come to the fore as a channel of democratic legitimacy for the EU. However, their capacity to participate in policy-making in the EU’s decision-making process is often limited.

At the same time, European integration has had a differential impact on national democracies in many ways. Some argue that it has impacted the performance of Europe’s social-market democracies. Vivien Schmidt thinks that part of the democratic malaise can be explained by the fact that EU integration led to ‘politics without policies’ in the national context, while we still assist to ‘policies without politics’ on the European level.

Finally, democratic processes in the EU and its member states define the potentials and limits for European integration itself. Some researchers believe that we observe the emergence of a ‘constraining dissensus’ (Marks and Hooghe) by national electorates limiting further integration in specific policy fields. Others see in the rising politicization of EU issues an important chance for the development of a truly European public sphere. On the political level, leaders regularly advocate a stronger direct participation of European citizens as only means for a re-foundation of the European project.

The PhD workshop will assess the above-mentioned issues from an empirical perspective. We welcome proposals on all aspects touched upon above. Contributions may stem from different disciplinary fields of the social sciences or history. Eligible for participation are both PhD students and early post-docs. Contributions will be discussed by specialists from Sciences Po and the University of Cologne.


The convenors of the doctoral seminar are Prof. Renaud Dehousse (European University Institute and Centre d’études européennes of Sciences Po), Prof. Wolfgang Wessels (Jean Monnet Chair, University of Cologne), Prof. Sven-Oliver Proksch (Chair for European Politics, University of Cologne), Associate Prof. Olivier Rozenberg (Centre d’études européennes of Sciences Po), and Anja Thomas, PhD (Centre d’études internationales of Sciences Po).

How to apply:

Please send your abstract of max 500 words to Anja Thomas at the Centre d’études européennes (CEE) - - until 26 November 2017 (midnight). Paper deadline will be 12th January 2018.

The abstract should contain the research question(s), data, methods, and expected findings. The proposals will be selected on the basis of academic excellence and their fit with the seminar programme. For the best paper there will be the opportunity to be published in Politique européenne.

Part of the costs are covered. No conditions of nationality apply.

The PhD Workshop is carried out in collaboration with the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence EUCOPAS, a joint programme of University of Cologne and Sciences Po Paris. Further information: The conference will be hosted by the Centre d’études européennes, in Paris: