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European Centre @ POLIS

Department of Politics and International Studies

Launched in 2015 as an informal reading group dedicated to the study of European integration, the European Studies Reading Group has become an established component of the Centre's programme. Graduate students, post-docs and academic staff have since been invited to discuss issues of importance to the study of Europe

Graduate reading group series: ‘Challenges to European unity’

With the generous support of the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies we were able to invite scholars from Germany to discuss recent academic publications and ongoing research on various challenges to European unity.

Convener: Sebastian Steingass



In recent years, scholarship surrounding European integration and the European Union (EU) has been littered with crises narratives: from the economic and monetary, hybrid security threats and terrorism, refugees and Schengen to populism, and ultimately Brexit.

While tensions and conflicts within the EU and around its borders may not have been created by the EU, the struggle to find common policy responses has challenged integration. These challenges have created spaces for transnational politics which are often ignored or downplayed despite their potential. Transnational politics are an instance of European integration, even if, as in the case of populist alliances across Europe, they go against the traditional vision of ‘ever-closer union’.

In many ways, Germany’s role is central to these responses. This is not only because it has been criticised for both leadership and hesitancy, as in, for example, the 2015 policy on migration. The response that this created all over Europe highlights the role of German actors, from government all the way to civil society.

This short series of reading groups will deal with specific instances of challenges to integration that have created space for transnational politics. It focuses on, though discussions are not confined to, transnational responses to migration and challenges to the EU’s common border management, the surge of populism on the right and left, and security institutions against the background of hybrid threats and terrorism.

The reading groups are aimed at graduate students, mainly in the field of politics, international studies and migration. Together with an invited scholar from Germany, students discuss recent academic publications and ongoing research on the outlined topics. These more informal reading groups will be supplemented, where possible, by a public lecture open to all and embedded in the department’s activities.


Invited guests

2 February 2017

Ariadna Ripoll Servent (University of Bamberg): ‘Strong institutions, weak policy change: The role of EU institutions in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice’

15 February 2017

Thomas Diez (University of Tübingen): 'Interrogating Normative Power Europe'

23 November 2017

Funda Tekin (University of Cologne): 'Drivers and brakemen in EU-Turkey relations - Which Road Ahead?' (This event is also part of the VIADUCT Lectures series)