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Strong Leiden Representation at EUSA Conference in Miami

This year’s EUSA biannual research conference, which took place in Miami in May 2017, saw a large delegation of the Europa Institute Leiden leaving its mark. In several panels, Prof. Luuk van Middelaar, Dr. Moritz Jesse (Associate Professor at the Europa Institute), Dr. Armin Cuyvers (Assistant Professor at the Europa Institute), and Frederik Behre (PhD Candidate at the Europan Institute acted as speakers.

In a Plenary about “Theorizing the EU in the Age of Nationalism”, discussing with Prof. Adrian Favell (University of Copenhagen) and Prof. Ruud Koopmans (Berlin Social Science Centre), Luuk van Middelaar made the case that the national-populist revolt against the EU (Brexit, Le Pen, etc.) is not some outside nuisance but closely bound up with Europe’s political metamorphosis since 1989. The slow, event-driven transformation from a regulatory body patiently setting norms to a polity of 28 democracies also taking joint decisions, in matters related to the currency, borders or foreign affairs, requires political leaders to appeal directly to the public — which may also reply ‘no’. In this context, Van Middelaar encouraged EU political scientists to address issues of public opinion, of government and executive power (as opposed to a focus on 'governance') and of legitimate opposition (as opposed to the arcanes of consensus production).

Moritz Jesse was presenting his paper  ‘The Arrival of the “Other(s)” – What can be learnt from legislative changes after the “Refugee Crises” of 2015?’ in a series of sessions composed of specialists in migration and immigration from Europe and the US. He claimed that the European reaction, however challenging and small such a European reaction might have been, could be seen as the first manifestation of a truly European policy towards third-country nationals. The influx of asylum seekers from Syria and other places in the summer of 2015 might have potentially re-enforced the dichotomy of EU citizens v third-country nationals in law, if proposed changes to the EU Asylum

Both Armin Cuyvers and Frederik Behre discussed their respective papers in a panel on ‘Legitimacy, governance and participation in a post-crises EU: how to improve after Brexit?’.

Armin Cuyvers presented his paper entitled ‘Recapturing popular sovereigns after Brexit: towards a compound parliamentary construct.’ The core argument of the paper was that globalization and regional integration have opened up the national constitutional structures that previously contained national sovereigns. Consequently, European integration helped awaken the national sovereign leviathans that are now being manipulated by populists through direct democracy. Questions of sovereignty and ultimate authority, which had been largely pacified within national systems, therefore re-emerge. Based on this analysis, the paper subsequently explored how to best recapture sovereignty by developing a compound parliamentary construct that starts from the primary legitimacy of the national parliaments instead of the European Parliament.

Additionally, Frederik Behre had the chance to present and discuss his paper with the title ‘Fiscal Union – or the legally impossible task to stabilize the Euro’, which is closely connected to his current PhD research. Behre identified and assessed a selection of legal limitations to full-fledged Fiscal Union imposed by both the EU as well as national constitutional legal framework. He concluded that the proposed creation of Fiscal Union faces severe legal obstacles, which might ultimately require considering alternative solutions in order to create a stable Euro and to accommodate legal concerns at the same time.

The EUSA Biennial Conference, which took place for the fifteenth time, is organized by the European Studies Association, a US research group, seeks to bring together academic, practitioners, and policy makers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to discuss matters of European Integration. The 2017 edition of the biannual conference dealt with the challenges and opportunities offered by the polycrises the EU has to deal with currently.

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