Group 1: Secondary analysis of Eurobarometer data: Does EU’s legitimacy suffer from the ‘management of the COVID-19 pandemic?’ An analysis of opinion surveys in selected member states.
The European Union (EU) has faced significant challenges in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating its impacts on member states and citizens. The EU has responded to the pandemic with a range of measures, including the adoption of common guidelines and recommendations, the provision of financial assistance to member states, and the coordination of research and development initiatives. However, the EU's management of the pandemic has been subjected to criticism and challenges. While some argued that the EU has not done enough to support member states and address the crisis, others referred to issues with resource distribution and coordination among member states. This research aims to develop a measurable definition of legitimacy that can be assessed against Eurobarometer data by conducting a secondary analysis. Results determine the extent to which the EU's legitimacy is affected by the "management of the COVID-19 pandemic” in selected member states between the periods of 2019 and 2021.
Group 2: Analysis of political representation: Assessing over- and underrepresentation in European Parliament committees.
In this research, we wanted to examine the levels of equality in the European Parliament’s committees. In order to examine this, we chose three committees as test cases - foreign relations, Environment, and Employment and Social Affairs. The examination of the test cases was carried out while analyzing the participants in each committee according to the following categories: Country, National Party, Gender, and the academic background. In terms of the findings, it was apparent that there are categories in which the level of equality is high in the parliamentary committees in relation to the composition of the entire parliament, whereas others showed distinct inequality. In this work we will present an explanation of the gaps between the various categories as well as between the composition of the committees to the European Parliament and the European population.
Group 3: Discourse analysis (framing): European imaginaries of EU heads of state and governments in 2022.
In 2022, the war on Ukraine resulted in millions fleeing their homes into neighboring countries in the European Union. European heads of state and governments spoke outwardly about welcoming their European brothers and sisters in their countries, despite having varying attitudes towards refugees of non-European origins. Whether or not both these approaches are consistent with the leaders’ 'imaginary' of Europe in terms of diversity is a different matter. Taking on Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán as case studies for our discourse analysis, we examine whether having an exclusive or inclusive imaginary for Europe is consistent with how these two leaders speak about refugees of European vs. non-European origins in various media outlets. We found consistency between Macron's imaginary of the EU’s future and expressions about refugees of different origins. As Macron has inclusive -however implicit- views in favour of diversity, he spoke positively about refugees of all origins. While his support for Ukranian refugees was based on European solidarity, he spoke positively about refugees of other origins, attributing his support to economic factors and in aid of EU’s neighbors. On the other hand, Orbán demonstrated firm and explicit opposition to receiving refugees in the years prior to the Ukrainian migration crisis but flipped the script afterwards by welcoming Ukrainian refugees with great support in his speeches, interviews, and other statements. Indeed, this is also consistent with his exclusive imaginary of a Europe belonging to the Europeans.
Group 4: Discourse analysis / Analysis of political speeches: Measuring the salience of different policy areas in the ‘State of the Union’ speeches of the President of the European Commission.
The salience of policy areas tackled by the European Commission and therefore by its presidency gained much importance given the frequent rise of crises affecting the European Union and the European continent in recent decades. To examine what has been the salience of policy areas and whether said salience was predetermined or derivative of the rising crises, three State of the European Union addresses by European Commission Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Ursula Von Der Leyen in the years 2015, 2021 and 2022 were examined. The analysis was conducted through both a qualitative and a quantitative approach, the first examining the affective indicators of salience through critical discourse analysis and the latter examining its statistical indicators through a frequency analysis and a comparative examination of the speeches. The results of the analyses have indicated that the salience of EU policy areas is derivative of rising crises rather than predetermined.
Group 5: Process tracing: The enforcement mechanisms of EU law in situations of member state’s non-compliance: The case of water pollution caused by nitrates (Germany 2016).
European integration has many layers of effectuation. Among other ways, compliance to European law is one path of it. Hence it is the subject of this research project to elaborate on the enforcement mechanisms of EU law in situations of member state’s non-compliance. The case of water pollution caused by nitrates in Germany from 2016 is a salient example in this context and shall therefore function as factual basis for a process-tracing. The assessment of enforcement mechanisms follows a three-tiered structure: Firstly, the forementioned case is analyzed in regard to the single actions of the European institutions to generate compliance. Secondly, the relevant EU legal framework for enforcement mechanisms shall be identifiedand described. Thirdly, the non-regulated practices for enforcement mechanisms of the European institutions will be presented and evaluated. The process-tracing will ultimately close with a conclusion that summarizes and discusses the findings.
Group 6: Institutional analysis and process-tracing: Who decides on EU sanctions against third countries? The case of EU sanctions against Russia.
In our research project, we use process tracing in an attempt to estimate the strongest institutional actor in the EU’s sanctioning process. Specifically, we focus on the hot case of the sanctions against Russia. We hypothesize actorness based on the formal sanctioning procedures (de jure), and compare our expectations to recent data on how the 2022 sanctions came to be (de facto).
Group 7: Mapping and testing: When will a temporary reintroduction of border controls happen in the Schengen area?
Following severe events that affected public security across the EU, namely the terrorist attacks of 2015 and 2016, and the COVID-19 pandemic that plagued the region since the beginning of early 2020, the EU reintroduced border controls and limited the free movement within the Schengen Area. Such decisions, whether enacted on a national or supranational level, were backed by legal justifications specified in the Schengen Border Controls, namely Articles 25, 28, and 29. This paper seeks to examine past instances pertaining to public security concerns that prompted the reintroduction of borders between Member States, all the while examining the legal frameworks that allowed for ‘re-bordering’. In so doing, this paper will be able to present the patterns of future instances that will result in the limiting of cross-border movements across the EU.
Group 8: Conceptualization and document analysis: The proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe: More power for the institutions of the European Union?
The Conference on the Future of Europe was a major pan-European democratic exercise, with citizen-led debates enabling people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape Europe's common future. The discussions that ran from April 2021 to May 2022 followed a few years of turbulence for the EU, which included challenges such as Brexit, the Covid-19 Pandemic, and most recently the war in Ukraine. These events put into question the current structure of the EU and its ability to handle the key issues of our times. The conference submitted 49 proposals on policies related to all areas of life. By using a document analysis approach, we seek to examine a sample of 20 proposals and find out whether or not the proposals of the Conference on the Future of Europe give more power to EU institutions.