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ECPR SGEU Conference 2022, Rome

Early Career Research Workshops

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Ahead of the 12th Biennial Conference of ur Standing Group on the European Union, its Steering Committee has organised a series of Early Career Research Workshops. Below are the details.

'Western Fatigue' and the Politics of European Support for Ukraine

Adam Holesch, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals
Benjmamin Martill, University of Edinburgh
Monica Sus, Hertie School Berlin

The European Union (EU) has offered both financial and military assistance to Kyiv since the full-scale invasion by Russia in 2022, pledging ongoing support for the war-torn country. The scale and ambition of the EU’s response have made it a major player in the conflict, enabled by a high degree of consensus between and within the member states.

Yet, cracks have appeared in the EU (and Western) façade in recent months as the ongoing conflict has caused numerous casualties on both sides, reaching hundreds of thousands. Despite a summer 2023 counter-offensive that failed to bring the anticipated decisive shift in favour of Ukraine, the frontline appears to have stabilized, and the costs for the West are rising. Giorgia Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister, was among the first to express concerns about war fatigue. On the other hand, Putin supporters, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, have strengthened their anti-Ukraine stance, threatening to block support for Ukraine in the European Council. Meanwhile, the shadow of a second Trump presidency in 2024 looms over European efforts.

These episodes speak to the challenges of maintaining a consistent and coherent EU/Western line over a sustained period of time and in the face of potentially divergent political and electoral incentives. With the Kremlin banking on ‘Western fatigue’ and seeking to extend the conflict to drive down European resolve, questions of politics and politicization take on significant strategic implications.

This workshop aims to explore the politics of the EU response to Ukraine two years after the invasion. Much time has lapsed since the initial context in which an enabling political consensus was built, yet now is the time to assess how robust this is in light of recent challenges. The workshop aims to understand the risk and impact of ‘Western fatigue’ by tackling head-on key research questions, including:

  1. What are the positions of populist, Eurosceptic, and other challenger parties on the conflict in Ukraine? Have these positions changed since the invasion, and do they pose a threat to the common European response?
  2. How does the politics of the Ukraine War differ across different political systems and strategic cultures? How did it change European narratives?
  3. Did the full-scale Russian invasion bring about altered enlargement dynamics in the European neighbourhood, and if so, what factors contributed to these changes?
  4. How does the interaction of ideology, government-opposition dynamics and electoral politics influence the politics of the Ukraine War?
  5. How have EU leaders actively sought to maintain cohesion amidst Russian efforts to break apart the EU/Western position?
  6. To what extent does the conflict remain a depoliticized site?
  7. Where politicization is observed, is the focus on the conflict itself, on divergent strategies, or on the frameworks (e.g. EU, NATO, national) countries choose to work through?

The workshop aims to convene scholars from diverse methodological traditions to examine the theme of the Russian-Ukraine war. It will encompass various interdisciplinary research fields, including International Relations (IR) and security studies, EU politics and enlargement, public opinion, energy, inter-institutional relations, Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), and network analysis. By fostering an exchange between scholars utilizing empirical or theoretical methodologies, the workshop bridges the gap between two perspectives that often remain separate in the existing literature. The goal is to compile the presented papers into a joint special issue for an academic journal.

Representation and Candidacy in the 2024 European Elections

William T. Daniel, University of Nottingham
Andrea S. Aldrich, Yale University

The 2024 European Parliament elections will provide a key moment for direct citizen input into the EU’s democratic representation, as well as form the political balance that will need to be navigated in a key EU policymaking institution for the next half decade. What does the ‘face’ of the institution tell us about the nature of representation in the European Union? How does representation play into the selection and election of MEPs? How are diverse gender, sexual, religious, ethnic, and social minorities represented in the European elections? Does this representation vary on a geographic or ideological basis? How have the dynamics of European representation changed over time? How are they covered in the media or engaged with by candidates as part of their campaigning?

The return of geopolitics or a new age of multiplexity? EU and global governance in the 21st Century

Marianna Lovato, Universiteit Brussel
Heidi Maurer, Danube Krems University
Karolina Pomorska, Leiden University

With war coming back to Europe, great power competition (re)shaping international relations, and countries struggling to find common ground to tackle climate change and other global threats, scholars have been interpreting world events as indicative either of a return of geopolitics or the emergence of a “multiplex” and “multi-order” world. Bringing together Early Career Researchers (ECRs) working on global governance, international relations, and EU external action, this workshop invites them to share their perspective on the trajectory of European foreign policy and international cooperation.

The workshop thus offers a dedicated space for ECRs to present their work-in-progress and receive in-depth feedback from senior scholars in the field. Furthermore, it provides a space to discuss and exchange about various aspects of career development. More broadly, the workshop seeks to facilitate knowledge exchange, encourage collaborations across generations of scholars and research fields, and cultivate a supportive community, providing ECRs with mentorship opportunities.

The workshop will be structured around three panels, with three-four presentations from early career scholars each, followed by discussant’s comments and Q&A from other participants. We will round up the day with a roundtable (or multiple breakout sessions, if there is interest in several topics) on:

  • Navigating the academic job market (what after the PhD and Postdoc?)
  • Publication strategies (how to select journals, how to deal with rejections and R&Rs?)
  • Creating support/mentorship network for early career scholars working on IR/(EU) foreign policy
What kind of university cooperation for what kind of Europe? Assessing the origins, results and impact of European university alliances

Alina Felder, University of St. Gallen
Naadia Manzoni, Central European University

Europe and its universities are intertwined more than is often given due credit in public discourse. Universities not only produce Europe’s intellectual elites and scientific knowledge, but they are also key actors in science diplomacy, regional innovation ecosystems and cultural reproduction. The European Union is increasingly recognizing this and engaging, through its funding programmes and policy coordination among Member States, in steering European universities. The EU’s latest initiative consists of strong incentives for top European universities to merge into transnational networks of universities. This mission has been espoused by 50 university alliances so far, comprising of more than 500 higher education institutions and covering about 54% of all PhD students in Europe.

The size and intensity of this collaboration throws a new light at the big questions of the relationship between Europe and its universities, and this workshop serves to study these questions. What is the expected social impact of university cooperation, its contribution to the European identity, its role in upholding “European values” and its place between national regulatory frameworks and the European or global good they serve? These questions are on the table when it comes to discussing the impact of European university alliances and this workshop unpacks the complex issues at stake and provides scientifically rigorous evidence of the situation at hand, from different perspectives and disciplines.