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Master Meeting Annual Conference 2024

The European Studies program at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its annual Master Meeting and Conference where students from the Master of European Studies program showcase their research, insights, and innovative ideas. This year, the presentations will cover a diverse range of topics, reflecting the rich tapestry of European politics and history.

The event is free and open to the public. We encourage all attendees to participate in the discussions and bring their unique perspectives to the table. For more information or to RSVP, please contact the European Studies department at

Conference Timetable (10:00 AM - 5:00 PM)

  • 10:00 - 10:30 AM: Arrival and Preparations
  • 10:30 - 11:10 AM: Presentation #1
  • 11:10 - 11:15 AM: Short Break
  • 11:15 - 11:55 AM: Presentation #2
  • 11:55 - 12:00 PM: Short Break
  • 12:00 - 12:40 PM: Presentation #3
  • 12:40 - 1:40 PM: Lunch Break
  • 1:45 - 2:25 PM: Presentation #4
  • 2:25 - 2:30 PM: Short Break
  • 2:30 - 3:10 PM: Presentation #5
  • 3:10 - 3:30 PM: Extended Break (20 mins)
  • 3:30 - 4:10 PM: Presentation #6
  • 4:10 - 4:15 PM: Short Break
  • 4:15 - 4:55 PM: Presentation #7
  • 4:55 - 5:00 PM: Closing Remarks and End of Conference

Discussions at the Upcoming Conference

“Analysis of Political Representation”

This research examines the representation of youth within the specialized standing committees of the European Parliament. We have found that young people (up to 35) are underrepresented in the European Parliament’s committees, and although existing literature addresses some of the reasons for their underrepresentation within the European Parliament as a whole, our research contributes to the discourse of youth political participation by suggesting additional ways in which the committees hinder their participation. We hypothesize that the relative importance of each committee as manifested in their legislative power and budgetary influence, the share of seats of political groups of the European Parliament and their placement on a left-right political spectrum each could have significant implications on the extent committees facilitate the participation of young people. To support our argument, we depend on public data from the European Parliament about the identity, political group and age of committee members, and apply it to existing frameworks of youth participation in the European Parliament and European politics at large.

“European Imaginaries of EU heads of states and governments related to enlargement”

This research examines the intricate relationship between Euroscepticism and the development of European imaginaries among EU heads of states and governments. It aims to elucidate the influence of Euroscepticism on shaping the conceptualization of European unity and integration by EU leaders, with a special focus on the discourse surrounding the accession process of Western Balkan countries that include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Through utilizing a discourse analysis methodology, this research explores how these Eurosceptic sentiments impact key lexical choice, symbolic language, recurring frames, persuasion techniques, and argumentative strategies within EU leaders’ speeches and communications in the years 2022 and 2023. In addition, it seeks to unveil the nuanced ways in which these Eurosceptic views are influenced by the historical narratives and cultural references that shape EU leaders’ communicative strategies towards EU enlargement. The findings offer insights into how the language used by EU leaders in their speeches has tangible implications on policy and decision-making, public perception and media, and influence on other EU member states since they carry underlying meanings that contribute to the accession prospects of Western Balkan countries. The research investigates the complex political interplay between varying Eurosceptic dynamics and EU enlargement processes that contribute to framing the accession likelihoods of Western Balkan countries.

“Discourse Analysis / Analysis of Political Speeches”

This seminar analyzes Ursula von der Leyen's strategic rhetoric in her State of the Union speeches during times of crisis. The research focuses on the years 2020, 2022, and 2023, using critical discourse analysis and rhetoric analysis to scrutinize linguistic nuances and persuasive techniques. Our goal is to uncover how her communication contributes to deepening European integration during challenging times. The critical discourse analysis will examine the ideologies, power structures, and political implications embedded in von der Leyen's State of the Union addresses. We will explore how her discourse shapes and reflects the changing dynamics within the European Union in response to crises. Additionally, the rhetoric analysis will focus on persuasive strategies employed by von der Leyen as we examine how she constructs narratives and frames issues to foster a sense of unity among EU member states. Our research includes analyzing the speeches to identify recurring themes that may signal the President's agenda for the upcoming year. By examining thematic content, we aim to provide insights into von der Leyen's strategic priorities and policy directions, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of European integration. This seminar explores the relationship between political rhetoric, crisis communication, and European integration. Our research involves analyzing von der Leyen's State of the Union speeches to understand how discourse shapes the European narrative and impacts the direction of the Union.

“To what extent does the European Commission have sufficient enforcement powers to ensure adequate implementation of EU law by Member States? - A case study of Nitrate pollution in Germany 2016”

This research paper delves into the multifaceted role of the European Commission as the guardian of the Treaties, emphasizing its pivotal responsibility in promoting the general interest of member states and ensuring the correct application of EU law. As a sui generis entity, the European Union (EU) and its respective member states present the Commission with diverse and nuanced challenges at every turn. This study focuses on specific challenges faced by the Commission in enforcing EU environmental law, using the 2016 case of water pollution caused by nitrates in Germany as a lens to scrutinize the effectiveness of its enforcement mechanisms. The study addresses the central question of whether the European Commission possesses sufficient enforcement powers to ensure the proper implementation of EU environmental law by member states. Employing process tracing, this research critically evaluates deficits in the Commission’s enforcement powers, with a specific focus on the infringement procedure. The identified deficits include challenges related to multi-level governance, fragmentation of institutions, entities, and stakeholders involved, difficulties in translating EU law to national law, complexities of environmental cases, lack of compliance from citizens, inaccuracies in information and reports, and budgetary and economic issues. By emphasizing instances marked by reduced Europeanization and incomplete compliance, such as the case of Germany, the study sheds light on the Commission’s challenges and responses, particularly within the infringement procedure. This nuanced examination provides insights into the dynamics of member state compliance with environmental regulations and contributes to the broader discourse on EU law enforcement.

“Institutional analysis and process-tracing: Who decides on EU sanctions against third countries? The case of EU sanctions against Russia”

This research investigates the formal rules and actual practices of the European Union (EU) in deciding on sanctions against third countries, focusing on the case of EU sanctions against Russia from February 2022 to October 2023. Utilizing institutional analysis and process-tracing methodologies, the study seeks to uncover the key actors, their roles, and the dynamics that influence these critical decisions. The research will delve into the complexities of the EU’s institutional framework, examining how different entities within the EU contribute to the sanctioning process. The competences of each institution and the decision-making rules will be thoroughly examined. The case of EU sanctions against Russia serves as a relevant example, given its geopolitical significance and the extensive economic and political implications of the sanctions. Finally, the research will discuss the similarities and differences between the formal rules and the practice of decision-making observed in the case of EU sanctions against Russia. This comparison will provide insights into the effectiveness of the EU’s formal rules in guiding its sanctioning process. This study aims to contribute to the understanding of the EU’s sanctioning process, offering valuable insights for policymakers, scholars, and practitioners in the field of international relations and EU foreign policy.

“Analyzing the Dynamics of Temporary Border Controls in the Schengen Area: Unraveling the Essence of its Reintroduction”

This research examines the changes in the frequency of internal border controls in the Schengen Area, focusing on immigration and terrorism concerns over the past ten years. It explores the rationale behind these notifications and amendments to the Schengen Border Code (SBC), including the European Commission's perspective. The study also investigates how they affected state competencies in border management, analyzing whether they enhanced state power and competence in controlling their borders. This study employs a mixed-method approach. Quantitative data on notifications of internal border controls in the Schengen Area, related to immigration and terrorism concerns, are collected and analyzed between 2013-2023. This involves statistical analysis to understand patterns and changes in frequency. Qualitative analysis focuses on the rationale behind these amendments, drawing from official European Commission communications and legislative texts. Additionally, the study examines the implications of these amendments on state competencies in border management, analyzing legal documents, and policy statements to understand the extent of power and autonomy granted to states in controlling their borders. This study aims to examine how amendments to the SBC influence the frequency and causes of reinstating border checks, aiming to understand the interplay between national security and free movement in the Schengen Area. Additionally, it assesses the impact of these border control measures on humanitarian crises and asylum seekers.

“Social Cohesion and EU Power Dynamic Shift: CoFE as a Role Model”

This research will explore the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE) to understand its role in promoting social cohesion among European Union (EU) member states and its influence on the EU power dynamics. This research will dig deep into the historical context of the EU’s approach to social cohesion and power dynamics, with a particular focus on President von der Leyen's initiative that gave rise to the Conference which represents a notable step in the EU’s democratic process, working towards giving Europeans a greater say in EU affairs. The research’s methodology will be a mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) as it will provide an in-depth analysis of the Conference’s framework, background and context, including its objectives and structure, and citizens’ engagement, in addition the statistical data will provide insights on the participation and experiences in the conference, by analyzing the academic literature, reports, outcomes and recommendations of the CoFE, and relevant publications and combining data from several EU institutions and providing insights into its effectiveness and the actual influence of citizens’ opinions on EU policies. The research will analyze the Conference on the Future of Europe’s contribution to enhance social cohesion and ensure the balance of power within the EU, particularly in the light of the EU governance structure and decision- making process shifts. It will analyze how civil society, and the EESC in particular, shapes EU policies. Also, it will emphasize the EU’s efforts in balancing environmental sustainability and social justice. The research will evaluate the Conference’s opportunities and challenges as well as its accomplishments and shortcomings.

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