POLSIS European Studies workshop: Broadening Approaches to the European Crisis

On Tuesday 11 February the POLSIS European Studies Research Group hosted a day-long workshop titled, 'Broadening Approaches to the European Crisis: History, Theory, Responses'. The workshop aimed to bring together scholars currently working on the European/Eurozone crisis – based both within and outside of the University of Birmingham – in order to discuss ways in which the crisis had been conceptualised and studied, to provide insight into the types of political responses witnessed, and to develop initiatives for future research collaboration amongst a group of leading scholars on the topic. It was co-funded by POLSIS and by the School of Government and Society.

The event was very successful, including participants from an range of international universities, including Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Free University of Brussels (ULB), Marburg University, University of Lincoln, University of Nottingham, Hildesheim University and University of Exeter.

The workshop was divided into two themes: (1) 'Contesting the European economic and political crisis', which looked at the types of opposition and protest that have been witnessed in response to the crisis and the crisis-resolution measures that have been introduced subsequently; (2) 'Politicisation, Depoliticisation and Repoliticisation of the European Union?', which looked at the responses of political parties and policy responses to the crisis.

In the first theme - Contesting the European economic and political crisis – papers were presented that detailed research into European citizenship initiatives and their overlaps with more non-institutionalised forms of contestation (Louisa Parks, Lincoln), on conceptualising types of contestation with regard to European integration (Amandine Crespy, ULB) and on understanding protest as a response to neoliberalism (Oscar Berglund, Bristol). We also heard a discussion of ongoing projects looking into the role of protest in advancing European integration (David Bailey (Birmingham), Stephen Bates (Birmingham), Niko Huke (Marburg), Mònica Clua-Losada (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)), and comparing protest movements across western democracies (Saskia Richter (Hildesheim)).

In the second theme - Politicisation, Depoliticisation and Repoliticisation of the European Union? – papers were presented outlining research by scholars focusing on party and formal institutional responses. This included papers comparing the party responses to European integration in the UK (Isabelle Hertner (Birmingham) and Dan Keith (Exeter)), the impact of European crisis upon the degree of institutionalisation of party systems (Fernando Casal Bertoa (Nottingham)), and the impact of the crisis upon party politics in Central and Eastern Europe (Kevin Deegan-Krause (Wayne State) and Tim Haughton (Birmingham)).

The workshop was a really useful and interesting way of highlighting ongoing political changes that are emerging across Europe in response to the experience of both the global economic crisis that emerged from 2007 onwards, and the more local Eurozone crisis that hit in 2010. Key opportunities for further study were also identified – with the POLSIS European Studies Research Group aiming to develop a research project focusing on inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of European politics, which we hope will lead to a future workshop in 2015 that will further facilitate this ongoing productive engagement between scholars studying Europe from different political, theoretical and disciplinary starting points