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The UK, Ireland and the European Union in a time of crisis

A UACES-IACES Joint Seminar Series

Confronting the Coronavirus Pandemic

UACES and IACES created a Joint Seminar Series on ‘The UK, Ireland and the European Union in a time of crisis’. This important and timely initiative will bring together scholars from across these islands and beyond to consider and reflect on common crises, shared challenges and emerging opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.

Relationships within and between Ireland, the UK and the EU have been fundamentally reshaped in recent years by a series of era-defining political upheavals. Brexit has catalysed economic, cultural-political and constitutional conflict, recast British-Irish relations and recalibrated Europe’s political geography. The aftershocks of the financial and Eurozone crises, populism and the undermining of the rule of law have contributed to continuing processes of political change and unrest across the EU. And since 2020, Europe has been both newly united and profoundly divided by a global pandemic. This seminar series seeks to examine and address these overlapping challenges that have confronted Europe, in general, and ‘these islands’, in particular, since 2016. By bringing together the leading European Studies Associations in Ireland and the UK, we seek to do so in a spirit of renewed solidarity and collaboration. The seminar series takes a deliberately inter-disciplinary approach, seeking to expand what is meant by ‘European Studies’, and inviting contributions from right across academia and beyond, on both sides of the Irish Sea and from across the EU. The inaugural seminar will focus on the most urgent crisis of our time: the Covoranvirus pandemic.

Seminar 1: The UK, Ireland and the European Union in a time of crisis: Confronting the Coronavirus Pandemic

In the first seminar in the series, The UK, Ireland and the EU in a time of crisis, we explored the most acute and immediate crisis we face: the Covid-19 pandemic. In this seminar, we interrogated how Ireland, the UK and the EU have responded to this crisis. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, and bringing together scholars and practitioners from the social sciences, arts and humanities and health sciences, we explored differences in these responses, and their consequences. The seminar thus aimed to provide an expansive overview of responses to the pandemic, overlaps and gaps, and what lessons may be drawn.

With an introduction from Taoiseach Micheál Martin. (00:01:44 - 00:11:26)



Dr Eleanor Brooks, University of Edinburgh (00:16:02 - 00:22:39)

Prof. Fiona Kearney, University College Cork and Director of the Glucksman Gallery (00:30:45 - 00:34:55)

Prof. Tamara Hervey, University of Sheffield (00:35:15 - 00:42:02)

Noelle O’Connell, CEO of European Movement Ireland (00:22:55 - 00:30:31)

Chair: Dr Nicholas Startin, Global Governance Institute and UACES Chair Questions to the panel from (00:42:44).

Seminar 2: Confronting Racism in Ireland, the UK & EU


Racism is endemic in the UK and Ireland, and across Europe. Coming on the back of the structural violence of the so-called ‘Migrant Crisis’ and the rise of ‘nativist’ populism across the continent, the Covid-19 pandemic has shone new light on systemic racial inequalities and injustices. In the UK, these have been subject to recent attempts at whitewashing and denial. In Ireland, the pandemic has given new impetus to a nascent and exclusionary politics of the far-right, while across the EU ‘vaccine nationalism’ has given new expression to forms of structural racism.

Throughout, anti-racist activists have continued the vital work of challenging these structures.   In this seminar, we seek to confront racism in Ireland, the UK and the EU, interrogate its political, social and cultural consequences and explore possibilities for transformation.

We will ask, in particular, what a deliberately anti-racist European Studies should look like, and the work that it should seek to do.



Dr Neema Begum, University of Manchester

Dr Amanullah de Sondy, University College Cork

Shada Islam, Independent EU Commentator

Kékéli Kpognon, Quaker Council for European Affairs

Bashir Otukoya, Dublin City University

Chair: Dr Jonathan Evershed, IACES and University College Cork

Seminar 3: The Future within and without Europe


The Conference on the Future of Europe was launched on Europe Day, 9 May 2021. Its aim is to engage citizens across the EU in discussions about the shape and direction of the Union in coming years, across a range of policy areas. The conference takes place against a backdrop of recent and ongoing changes in European politics, including as represented by Brexit and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of the conference, this seminar looks to explore the Future of Europe in broad terms, examining the conference as a process, the options available for citizen-led reform of the EU, and the Union's changing ethos and purpose. It also considers what the future looks like for the UK as a third country and how this status will influence it vis-à-vis future challenges/crises.



Dr Viviane Gravey, Queen's University Belfast

Prof Danuta Hübner MEP

Dr Kathryn Simpson, Manchester Metropolitan University

Prof Simon Usherwood, Open University

Chaired by Prof David Farrell, UCD

Seminar 4: Security and Defence


The rise of new complex, multifaceted and global insecurities has posed important questions for defence and security policy across Europe and beyond. This seminar will probe the shared defence challenges currently confronting Ireland, the UK and the EU. It will interrogate the re-emerging debate about neutrality in Ireland, explore post-Brexit UK defence strategy and positioning, and critically examine the EU's approach to defence and security in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.


With guest speakers:

Dr Maxine David (Leiden University)

Dr Jocelyn Mawdsley (Newcastle University)

Prof John O'Brennan (Maynooth University)

Prof Ben Tonra (University College Dublin)

Chair: Prof Richard Whitman (University of Kent)

Seminar 5: The Politics of Gender and Sexuality across Ireland, the UK and Europe

The UACES-IACES Joint Seminar Series, ‘The UK, Ireland and the European Union is a Time of Crisis’ seeked to critically explore overlapping issues in the politics of gender and sexuality in Ireland, the UK and Europe. Taking an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach, the seminar interrogated worrying trends such as the resurgence of homophobia, attempts to mobilise transphobia as a front in the ‘culture wars’, and regression in women’s rights, including the right to choose, in parts of Europe. The seminar explored the vital work that is being done to confront and challenge misogyny, homophobia and transphobia within and across Ireland, the UK and the wider European Union, the challenges facing activists, and how the European Studies community might better support their efforts.

Chair: Dr Mary McAuliffe, University College Dublin

Dr Peter Dunne, University of Bristol
Prof Roberta Guerrina, University of Bristol
Prof Toni Haastrup, University of Stirling
Dr Koen Slootmaeckers, City, University of London
Dr Fiachra Ó Suilleabháin, University College Cork