Programme 13th HEIRS Conference: The Informal Construction of Europe

Luxembourg-Ville, 23-25 March 2017

luxembourgKeynote speakers:

  • Dr. N. Piers Ludlow, LSE:
    Of treaties, conventions, and habits: How formal integration interacts with informal
  • Prof. Dr. Christine Neuhold, Maastricht University:
    Trying to capture and study the ‘invisible’: Informal governance in the EU

This year’s HEIRS conference focuses on the informal construction of Europe. Although treaties and laws constitute the formal fundaments of European integration, informal activities on the European intergovernmental, supranational and transnational stage have often been a necessary precondition for concerted action leading to binding agreements and political change. National delegations met not only at negotiation tables when drafting new Community treaties or negotiating legal texts, but made decisive bargains in informal settings. Members of supranational institutions, such as notably the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament and, more recently, the European Central Bank, went far beyond the framework of tasks and responsibilities initially provided for them, and thus decisively shaped their own role as well as European policy areas. Interest groups have aimed to exert influence on decision-makers by way of informal strategies ranging from argumentative persuasion to political pressure. Continue reading “Programme 13th HEIRS Conference: The Informal Construction of Europe”


1st HEIRS-RICHIE Conference: Capitalism, Crises and European Integration from 1945 to the present

European University Institute, Florence, Italy, 26-28 May 2016

HAEU EUIThe severe multidimensional crisis that has been affecting Europe since 2008 calls for a critical rethinking of European integration history. Europe’s present difficulties highlight both the importance of crises in shaping European integration and the role of European governance in asserting a certain form of capitalism. Crises have punctuated and defined European integration history from the start – the mushrooming of integration and cooperation projects sixty years ago were responses to the chaos of post-­‐war Europe. The present crisis also raises questions about the nature of the European ‘project’, which appears today to differ in many ways from what it was at its inception. Arguably, European integration took ot in a moment of exception in the history of capitalism, when inequalities were at a historical low –in sharp contrast with the present era of globalised ‘neoliberal’ capitalism and record inequalities. This conference will explore the interconnections between European integration and the history of capitalism and its crises, in an effort to highlight the shifting nature of the European integration process. Continue reading “1st HEIRS-RICHIE Conference: Capitalism, Crises and European Integration from 1945 to the present”

12th HEIRS Conference: National societal actors in a multilevel environment

Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), 21-22 April 2016

Processes of globalization have given birth to new (or renewed) fields of research in the social sciences. Numerous attempts have been made to develop transnational or global studies and history. It has been argued that history has to be written within a new framework that transcends national boundaries and takes into consideration the interconnectedness of human societies (Knudsen and Gram Skoldager; 2014: 146). Some authors have suggested a need to overcome an excessive focus on the state as the “primary unit of historical inquest” (Robin, 2009: 486). While recognizing the necessity to go beyond national histories for social science and historical analysis, however, the state and national actors are not necessarily weakened. We take the epistemological stance that there is no “necessary trade-off in power between national governmental and supranational institutional actors” (Kaiser and Meyer; 2013:1). Continue reading “12th HEIRS Conference: National societal actors in a multilevel environment”

11th HEIRS Conference: Narratives of European Integration

University of Portsmouth, 15-16 April 2015

Group pictureNarratives, or ways of telling stories about history, identity and culture, are powerful tools. They can serve to legitimate or contest regimes, facilitate or undermine social and cultural cohesion, and influence notions of identity and otherness. They are cultural constructs, created by state and societal actors, individuals and groups, sometimes deliberately with a political goal in mind, sometimes unintentionally and implicitly.

A variety of actors have developed such narratives for Europe as a cultural space and for the present-day European Union as an economic and political entity. Analyzing these stories told in the past or in the present, about the past, the present and the future of Europe and the European Union, can provide crucial insights into the actors promoting them, their motivations and objectives, and about the stories themselves, their focus and forms of narration and their dissemination across borders in Europe. Narratives thus are a very fruitful subject for analyzing the history and current state of Europe and the European integration. Continue reading “11th HEIRS Conference: Narratives of European Integration”

10th HEIRS Conference: History, Memory and European Identity

Maastricht University, 5-6 June 2014

The question of how to generate a sense of belonging to a multinational political community has preoccupied intellectuals and politicians since the founding moments of the European Union. Particularly in times of stress and doubt calls for a European identity have become a central topic. Currently, in the wake of the on-going EU crisis discussions about the connection between the construction (or the lack) of a common European identity and legitimacy of EU governance are coming back to the fore. Debates centre on the question if and how the EU can effectively and lawfully operate if its citizens do not sustain the integration project sufficiently enough. Apart from discussions on the possibility of and the need for a political identity we can discern a separate discourse on questions surrounding the development of a cultural identity and common memory of Europe. The concepts of identity, memory and lieux de mémoire are in fact deeply interwoven. Continue reading “10th HEIRS Conference: History, Memory and European Identity”

9th HEIRS Conference: Political Representation in the History of International Organisations and European Integration

Sandbjerg Gods, Sønderborg, Denmark, 7 – 9 January 2013

Historical research in recent years has begun to study the transformation and reshaping of political representation across the 20th century in context of the establishment and development of international organisations and European integration. The political history of various groups of political representatives interacting at the international and European levels has so far been fairly well researched. By contrast, the social, cultural and transnational history of actors such as diplomats, civil servants and politicians – historically seen as the classical state representatives – is still in its infancy. This conference aimed, first, to bring together doctoral students exploring the social, cultural and transnational histories of core actors and groups in political representation in the context of international organisations and European integration across the 20th century. Secondly, it aimed to facilitate discussion between doctoral students and senior researchers about new findings as well as strategies in research design and methodologies, theoretical and conceptual questions relating to the historical study of change in political representation, and on (inter-) disciplinary inspiration. Continue reading “9th HEIRS Conference: Political Representation in the History of International Organisations and European Integration”

8th HEIRS Conference: Communicating European Integration

Humboldt University, Berlin, 30 – 31 March 2012

Since the 1990s and in direct connection with the low turnouts of the European elections the so-called “democratic deficit” of the EU became an increasingly discussed topic in both academic and political circles. In this context, the (apparently insufficient) communication of European politics to its citizens and the lack of identification with European institutions have been of especially great importance. Academic research has invested considerable efforts in trying to analyse and explain these problematic relationships. However, because this still growing area of research is still dominated by social scientists, historical approaches seem to be somewhat underrepresented. The Eighth HEIRS conference thus aimed to foster interdisciplinary exchange in historical research on this crucial aspect of the history of European integration.

For the conference programme, please see the following document:

For a full report of the Eighth HEIRS Conference, please see the following document:

7th HEIRS Conference: The European integration process in the eyes of others. Historical perspectives, 1952-1992

Forli, Italy, 11-12 March 2011

The goal of the Seventh HEIRS Conference was to promote the study of the international dimension of the EC/EU, the direct and indirect impact of its common policies on a worldwide scale, as well as the link between its international self-representation and the more general discourse of identity. Continue reading “7th HEIRS Conference: The European integration process in the eyes of others. Historical perspectives, 1952-1992”

6th HEIRS Conference: European Integration and the Cold War, 1945-1989

University of Reading, 15-16 April 2010

The Sixth HEIRS Conference, arranged by Christian Salm and Matthew Broad, took place at the University of Reading, UK. The central aim of the conference was to link the often unconnected research on European integration with that of Cold War studies, and visa versa. Continue reading “6th HEIRS Conference: European Integration and the Cold War, 1945-1989”