European Civil Society beyond Brussels

Amsterdam, Netherlands

7-8 April 2016

Workshop scope and theme


This workshop seeks to bring together scholars interested in exploring the involvement of national and sub-national civil society actors in EU policies as well as the way their activities and the context in which they operate are affected by the EU.


Although there is no paucity of research on the role of civil society in EU governance, the lion's share of this research has focused on civil society participation and actions in Brussels. While national and sub-national organizations involved in EU policy-making also form part of European Civil Society, they have received considerably less scholarly attention. Existing research has, on the one hand, tried to capture the transformative impact of Europe on various national practices of civil society involvement in policy-making (such as social dialogue) and on actors' strategies and repertoires of actions, including involvement in processes of contestation and protest activities. Another strand of literature has focused on the participation of civil society actors in EU governance at the national level like the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) or EU cohesion policy. Last but not least, much has also been written on European civil society's development in the Central and Eastern European member states and surrounding region within the context of the enlargement and accession processes and the EU Neighborhood policy. Until now, however, there has been little cross-fertilization and cumulative knowledge generation across these different strands of literature on the contribution, roles and actions of European civil society actors beyond Brussels as well as across various policy areas and member states.


Submission details


This workshop invites participants, both established and early-career researchers (researchers completing their PhD or post-doctoral researchers) currently conducting research in the fields specified by the call. The workshop aims at facilitating an interdisciplinary debate in this field. Therefore, we welcome papers that draw on different kinds of empirical data and theoretical and analytical perspectives, including well-established (neo) institutionalist and comparative approaches, research anchored in the sociology of the EU, or in interpretive research traditions focused on the study of discourses, narratives and practices. 


Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:


i.            civil society actors' participation in EU policy-making at the national, regional and local levels and the role of EU legal and policy requirements in promoting it. Examples of such requirements are the partnership principle for the Structural Funds, and mandates to involve or consult civil society stakeholders and wider publics in new or experimentalist forms of governance (including EU legislation such as the Water Framework Directive as well as OMC processes);

ii.          use of EU opportunities and participatory channels directly by national, regional, local CSOs, including petitions, citizens initiatives, etc.

iii.        bottom-up participation, advocacy or lobbying activities around EU policies at the national, regional and local levels;

iv.        domestic protests and contention over EU policies across levels of governance.


For the purpose of this workshop, civil society organizations are defined as actors outside of the public and market sectors who pursue public policy goals. This definition includes a wide range of organizations, such as public interest groups, NGOs, voluntary organizations and social movements. It can also include social partners such as professional and business associations or organized capital and labor when they are pursuing a public purpose.


Since the workshop aims at publishing the results in a special issue of a high-quality international peer-reviewed journal, we welcome contributions in the form of fully developed papers. Proposals should include the title, an abstract (up to 450 words) and a short CV. Complete applications should be sent to Dr. Andrey Demidov at and Dr. Rosa Sanchez-Salgado at by 20 December 2015.


Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information about the theme of the workshop, expected contributions or bibliography.


Travel and accommodation cost for accepted participants will be covered by ACCESS EUROPE.



Key dates


15 September 2015: Call for papers opens

20 December 2015: Abstract submission deadline

1st February 2015: Selected participants informed

15 March 2015: Full paper submission deadline

7-8 April 2016: ACCESS EUROPE workshop




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2016-04-07 2016-04-08 European Civil Society beyond Brussels Amsterdam, Netherlands | University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Center for Contemporary European Studies (ACCESS Europe) Dr. Andrey Demidov, Dr. Rosa Sanchez-Salgado true YYYY-MM-DD
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