by Igor Tkalec and Martin Sacher


Nearly ten years after the outbreak of the European sovereign debt crisis and the economic and political turmoil it has preceded, the dust still has not completely settled. EU scholars are only starting to understand the implications of this major event in the history of EU integration and of the reforms that were undertaken in response. With the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, the introduction of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure and the establishment of the European Semester as an annual coordination cycle of economic policies, supranational and national actors have been assigned new powers and obligations. Furthermore, Banking Union reflects a considerable change in power dynamics between national and supranational actors and is intended to contribute to financial market integration.

The interdisciplinary workshop and PhD summer school that took place on 7-8 June in the Maison Robert Schuman in Luxembourg had the goal of identifying conceptual and methodological challenges associated with the study of these recent institutional developments within EU Economic and Monetary Union and of proposing potential avenues for overcoming them. Contributions by scholars and PhD students were subsequently submitted for double blind peer review and possible publication in a Special Issue of the Journal of Contemporary European Research (JCER) to be guest-edited by Professor Michele Chang from the College of Europe in Bruges and Igor Tkalec and Martin Sacher, two PhD students in the Institute of Political Science of the University of Luxembourg.

The workshop / summer school brought together political science and law scholars and PhD students from academic institutions located in five different countries. The contributions covered a variety of current developments under EU Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), including capital requirements and the accountability of the ECB, the implementation of economic policy recommendations under the European Semester, and asymmetric power dynamics within EMU. Furthermore, research focused on areas such as the link between Cohesion Policy and economic governance, fiscal consolidation in France as well as legal intensification dynamics of the economic policy coordination regime. Contributors to the workshop also engaged in more globally oriented research designs, such as the comparison of the strategies of the EU and the People’s Republic of China in economic policy coordination.

Participating scholars and PhD students identified a variety of potential avenues for coping with the complexity of recent institutional developments. These included the quantitative analysis of textual data and ideational orientations of policy makers, process-tracing that focuses on key decisions as well as comparative approaches to better understand policy coordination within the EU and beyond. Moreover, one of the contributions applied a gender perspective to understand the role of women within the current economic governance system and the influence of gender in the construction and legitimization of the system. The presentation of the various contributions led to fruitful discussions among the workshop and summer school participants and the provision of constructively critical feedback.

The second day of the workshop / summer school consisted in a seminar with Dr. Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol from the University of Glasgow on the history of European economic governance. Dr. Mourlon-Druol discussed his on-going ERC Research Project and different approaches to economic governance with workshop / summer school participants. He also shared his recent experiences of applying for large grant funding and managing a large project involving several post-doctoral and PhD student researchers.

The activity involved several forms of essential PhD training: introduction to a range of analytical approaches and methodologies; experience discussing academic papers; experience writing and submitting a paper to be subject to double blind peer review; and (for two of our PhD students) experience managing a journal special edition. The organisers of the workshop are very grateful for invaluable support offered by the Robert Schuman Institute of European Affairs of the University of Luxembourg and to the funding provided through the EU’s Jean Monnet programme without which this successful workshop and PhD summer school would not have been possible.

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