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Themed Tracks

A list and details of themed tracks for UACES 2024

Find below a list of themed tracks for the UACES 2024 Annual Conference. To submit your proposal to a themed track, follow the link on the right and select the appropriate track under 'Your Submissions'.

Themed Track List

Click on the titles to find out more about the Themed Tracks available at this year's Annual Conference. There are 13 themed tracks, plus an open track for those whose work does not fit clearly into the track themes.

Open Track

The Open Track welcomes proposals on all aspects of contemporary European Studies from across academic disciplines including (but not limited to) law, economics, geography, history, sociology, public policy and politics. We accept proposals from established academics, practitioners and well-prepared doctoral students. Proposals can take the form of panels, individual papers or 'non-traditional' panels which may be roundtables, workshops or other alternative formats. We will not accept all-male panels.

5 Years of European Green Deal: Where next for EU environmental action?

The 2019 European Green Deal pushed EU environmental action out of the doldrums, yet as the von der Leyen Commission finishes its mandate, a number of environmental issues remain unresolved, even though the need for ambitious environmental policies and resilient governance has never been so clear. This themed track welcomes individual papers and pre-organised panels that take stock of the EU as an environmental actor (both internal and international), evaluate environment and climate policies and the environmental policy-making process, discuss the fraught politics of climate and environmental action, policy/governance innovations in the field as well as contributions on what broader challenges to the field of European studies (from intersectionality to decolonisation) mean for the study of EU environmental action.

Constitutional identity, sovereignty, and autonomy

It is one of the hallmarks of legal integration in Europe that formally distinct systems are increasingly intertwined in function. Despite this growing interconnectedness, however, key actors on various levels rhetorically stress the distinct nature of their own legal authority. Domestic constitutional courts, for instance, famously assert their position as final arbiters of constitutionalism in Europe. In doing so, they seek to guard their own constitutional identity from external interference. Similarly, the Court of Justice of the EU has developed the notion of autonomy to distinguish the supranational legal order from national and international law. In increasingly intertwined legal systems, notions such as ‘autonomy’ or ‘national constitutional identity’ serve as markers of distinction. They allow actors to draw a dividing line between the different components of an increasingly integrated legal and system. At the same time, attempts to draw distinctions between intertwined systems equally exist outside the judicial realm. Significant efforts are undertaken, for example, to ensure the EU’s ability to act independently in strategically important policy fields. This ‘strategic autonomy’ may lead to an unwinding of economic, political and legal ties with third states.

This themed track proposes to address the dividing lines that are drawn between intertwined legal and political systems. It explores the mechanisms that throw into relief the distinctiveness of legal and political spaces, charts the motives underlying these mechanisms, and examines the repercussions thereof for a common European legal and political space.

The themed track invites panels that work on these or related topics, including but not limited to the following topics:

  • Sovereignty in post-Brexit Europe
  • Member States’ sovereignty in EU law: a mirage?
  • Sovereignty beyond the state?
  • Constitutional courts’ opposition to primacy of EU law
  • Constitutional identities of Member States under EU law
  • Autonomy of the EU in foreign affairs
  • Strategic autonomy in trade, digital, and/or defense policy
  • International legal and political perspectives on EU (strategic) autonomy

This proposal is submitted by a group of European law scholars from the University of Groningen, whose principal research interest lies in the interconnection of legal systems in Europe. The themed track-proposal reflects that focus. It invites panels that examine the role of the EU and its Member States in international contexts, the relationship between supranational and national laws and efforts of European actors to distinguish themselves from international dependencies

EU Digital Governance and Law

Some scholars praise digitalization as liberalization, while others warn of an Orwell-like surveillance state. The EU needs to strike a delicate balance – encouraging innovation, protecting consumers, and upholding fundamental rights. However, within the European studies landscape, EU digital policy's nuanced legal and governance issues remain largely unexplored. Topics like cybersecurity, content moderation, and artificial intelligence beckon for systematic attention. To address this gap, the EU Digital Governance and Law Track primarily aims to address, but is not limited to, the following key areas of inquiry:

  1. European Democracy in the Digital Age: Examining how digital policies intersect with fundamental rights, synergies with the Green and Just Transition, and the balance of innovation and security, and openness and protection.
  2. Actors and Processes of EU Digital Policymaking: Identifying relations, similarities, and differences between different digital-related policy areas, linking those to processes and outcomes, and reflecting on actors, institutions, decision-making, and enactment.
  3. The EU as an International Digital Actor: Acknowledging cyberspace's borderless nature, we need to explore the external dimensions of EU digital policy, questioning the EU's evolving international role amidst geopolitical, geoeconomic, and regulatory challenges.
  4. Implementation and Enforcement of Digital Policy: To ensure coherence and encourage convergence, it is crucial to understand the dynamics of implementation and enforcement. In this context, we must explore the delegation of competences and other mechanisms like the country-of-origin principle. Furthermore, understanding the role of different institutions, authorities, and agencies is crucial to assessing the effectiveness of digital policy across the EU member states.
EU integration in a cacophony of crises – contesting “integration through law?”

This track invites paper engaging with the role of law in European integration theory and practice in the face of a cacophony of crises, assuming that all disciplines of European studies (economics, history, legal studies, political science, sociology) have a stake in this.

The potential role of law will always reflect the dual face of legal ordering, aptly captured by the two Latin words for law: “lex” and “ius”, roughly translating to “positive law” and “justice”. “Lex” represents law’s capacity to reflect and stabilise the societal status quo through positive law, including legislation (a word deriving from “lex”). “Ius” represents the supra-positive law derived from moral principles such as justice, which again can be used to challenge the status quo, existing order or societal power. In other words, law is impacted by societal power relations, but it also impacts on societies, economies, and politics.

The present cacophony of crises provokes the question whether and in how far “the law” remains a desirable element of European integration, and how truly inter- and transdisciplinary research may contribute to maintaining a constructive role for law and rights in the integration of Europe.

Any role of law and rights for European integration would presuppose continued acceptance of rule-based order, which is under threat internationally, beyond Europe. Recent wars, imagined as result of power vacuums in a multipolar global order, may imply that global governance will ultimately derive from power based on military might or other means of global dominance. If this is the new reality, little scope remains for a rule-based order.

Within nation states, rule-based order is threatened by far-right populism and its own concept of constitutionalism, often based on identitarian politics and averse to protection of rights against public authority, especially if derived from European courts. Interestingly, the far-right party which has ruled Poland for the last decade calls itself “Law and Justice”, invoking the idea that only laws creating justice for “the people” (imagined as native) should be followed. Further, the perception that the EU legal order is insensitive towards protecting the preconditions of lives within Europe’s societies is used to justify its derecognition. Regaining citizens’ trust in the justice of transnational laws seems crucial to overcome such concepts.

Panels should ideally be multidisciplinary and could address a number of themes. The questions below are not meant as exclusive, but instead as examples to be expanded upon

  • Has the idea of integration through law run its course as far as the Europeanisation of societies and economies in the EU is concerned? Is it time to proceed with political and economic integration, and reduce EU law to intergovernmental relationships?
  • Is it important for the EU to be perceived as creating hopes for more justice, and is there a role of EU level legislation and case law in this?
  • How does the new multipolar global order impact on the constitutional character of the European Union? Will/should it result in a more flexible form of European integration than what is possible in the current constitutional EU?
  • Is there a tendency of far-right populists to (ab)use principles such as protection of rights (even of non-discrimination), rule of law, and the authority of courts generally to achieve their aims? Is there scope for mobilising EU law instead for the aims of inclusive social justice?
European Security

This track would welcome papers from all disciplines looking at the security challenges facing the European continent and its institutions. The European security environment has worsened considerably over the last 18 months. National, EU and NATO security threat perceptions and planning processes have been fundamentally challenged by the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. This upending of security assumptions is one area papers may focus on, but alongside the renewed interest in territorial defence, we note that pre-existing security challenges like regional security and terrorism have not disappeared. We would particularly welcome papers offering perspectives from voices marginalised in mainstream security studies.

Gender and Sexuality

UACES invites both panel and individual paper proposals for inclusion on to its Gender and Sexuality track. We welcome multi-disciplinary scholarly approaches within European Studies, whether political, historical, legal, or sociological. Proposals may be conceptual, empirical, critical, or applied.

We are interested in a broad range of substantive topics, including the growing importance of gender and/or sexual diversity for representation within the European institutions, policy debates and the impact of policy initiatives on the experiences of gender and sexual minorities in Europe, the discourse of women and LGBTQIA+ actors in European politics and civil society movements, and the role of Europe in mitigating gender-based violence or promoting gender equality at home or abroad.

We also welcome gendered perspectives on key topics in European and EU studies. We especially welcome contributions from an intersectional perspective, as well as those that challenge how scholarly frameworks developed in the literature on gender and representation can be extended or applied to other forms of identity. We are committed to offering a diverse range of panels and would be especially delighted to welcome scholars from the global majority. We expect for any proposed, pre-formed panels to consider offering a diverse range of voices as part of their own selection.

Health and the European Union

Health is an increasingly important aspect of EU governance, policy, and law. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the Union can play a pivotal role in health security, pandemic response and preparedness. But the relationship between public/global health and the EU predates this pandemic and is very multifaceted.

‘Health and the European Union’ is a broad and topical theme concerned both with the EU’s involvement in/impact on health, as well as how health crises have shaped and are shaping the EU.

We welcome work - from across disciplines and methodologies - which engages with how the EU shapes health, and how EU activity in health is shaped by health crises. Some of the kinds of work that we hope to see presented in this track include (but are not limited to):

  • How the EU’s focus on health may change with the new Commission mandate?
  • EU governance after/during covid
  • EU Health law and policy
  • The EU as a Global Health actor
  • The health implications of EU economic and fiscal governance
  • The health implications of EU trade and/or Single Market (including, for example, in pharmaceuticals, but also in health-harming products such as tobacco)
  • EU institutions, member states, and health
  • Environmental health and the EU

We are open to hosting both in-person and virtual sessions.

Human Mobility within the EU: Current Developments and Challenges

The proposed track aspires to critically discuss aspects of human mobility within the European Union (EU), particularly the legal avenues for people to move freely across EU Member States. Seamless mobility within the EU is considered as one of the main achievements of European integration and is at the heart of the EU’s objective of creating an area without internal borders. The overarching question asks in what forms intra-EU mobility exists, for whom and what the ensuing socio-political implications are. The multifaceted topic of ‘Human Mobility within the EU’ provides a red thread which unites a vast range of topics such as EU citizenship, the Schengen Area, migration and movement rights of third-country nationals.

The track welcomes both empirical and theoretical contributions from various disciplines focusing on intra-EU mobility, understood as the ability of EU citizens and third-country nationals to freely move, reside and work within the territory of Member States. It provokes questions such as what underlies access to mobility rights, which hurdles currently exist and what impact intra-EU mobility has on various aspects of individuals’ life in a broader sense. The track further seeks to stimulate topical and timely discussions in the wake of developments that either foster or challenge the borderless EU ideal, such as the EU-UK settlement scheme, the COVID-19 pandemic, the reintroduction of border controls within the Schengen Area and the newly granted free movement rights of Ukrainian nationals under the EU Temporary Protection scheme. Finally, it seeks to shine a light on challenges to mobility that are not yet fully grasped by existing EU policies, such as the emergence of digital nomad workers, access to social rights on the pan-European labour market and the mobility of precarious or “irregular” migrants.

Race and Decolonisation

We welcome papers that explore the intersections of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the context of European studies. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The history and impact of colonialism and decolonialisation on European societies and cultures, including legacies of imperialism across the globe

  • The role of race and ethnicity in shaping European identities

  • The relationship between decolonisation and European integration, and the position of Eurocentrism in research and practice

  • The politics of memory and commemoration in postcolonial Europe

  • The challenges of decolonising European institutions and curricula

  • Applying interpretivist methodologies and critical approaches to EU policies, integration theories and external relations

  • Papers and approaches that de-centre or provincialise Europe within European Studies

  • Papers on the impact of EU policies on the global souths

  • How the EU and EU Studies is studied/practiced/contested outside of Europe. 

We encourage theoretical and empirical submissions from scholars working in any cogent discipline, including innovative formats for sessions.

The EUROGLOT ((En)countering Europe as Global, Othered & Transperipheral Voices) team are also looking to run a few panels within this track. To read their Call for Papers click here. If you are submitting a paper for a EUROGLOT panel you must write 'EUROGLOT' before the title of your paper, otherwise it will just be included in the wider Race and Decolonisation track.

Rethinking Europe's East-West Divide

While the Iron Curtain fell more than 30 years ago, in many respects the study of Western and Eastern European politics remains siloed, with researchers of Western European politics rarely collaborating with those focusing on CEE. In the best case scenario, volumes on comparative European Politics would contain one or two chapters on Eastern Europe (most commonly, Hungary or Poland), thus claiming to be representative of the whole continent. Yet, there is more diversity in CEE politics than commonly acknowledged and different groups of CEE countries including the Baltics, the Visegrad Four and the Balkans - follow diverse capitalist and democratic trajectories. What is more, phenomena such as democratic backsliding, parliamentary weakening or the rise of far-right movements and parties are characteristic not only of CEE but of Western European politics as well. 

The themed track we propose aims to overcome disciplinary silos and the persisting iron curtain in studying European politics by advancing an interdisciplinary agenda for studying East and West European politics together. We welcome diverse approaches to this call, including 1) studying comparatively political processes in CEE and Western Europe; 2) studying the diffusion of policies and discourses between CEE countries and Western European ones, and finally 3) studying structural connections and dependencies resulting from supranational political dynamics and the way they reverberate in Europe’s West and East.

Among the key topics we are interested in are:

  • Democratization and de-democratization processes and their drivers in CEE and Western Europe
  • Business power in CEE and Western Europe from a comparative perspective
  • The new industrial turn in the EU and how it is implemented, interpreted and contested in CEE and Western Europe
  • Macroeconomic policies: transfers to EU economic governance, risks and consequences
  • Emigration, immigration and their politicisation in CEE and Western Europe
  • Technopopulism in CEE and Western Europe, its drivers, manifestations and consequences
  • Far-right politics in EU’s East and West: transnational connections and comparisons
  • Transnational progressive politics: trade unions, social movements and civil society mobilization across borders (on issues such as female rights, labour rights, the environment)
  • Media and court capture and challenges to the rule of law in a comparative perspective
Rethinking the socio-political influence of foreign capital on the EU, EU member states, and the UK

The increasing interconnectedness amongst global actors, coupled with the economic development of non-European states and private agents, has resulted in an influx of capital of various forms to the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Several instances have been flagged where the influence of foreign capital has been considered problematic. A non-exhaustive list would include:

  • Russia’s alleged financing of European political parties, such as the French National Rally and the Austrian Freedom Party, which is often purported to take place via European banks ().
  • The alleged operations of Russian economic elite in undermining or influencing political decision-making and public opinion, such as the suggested financing of former United Russia deputy, Ivan Savvidi, in financing protest against the Prespa Agreement that would enable North Macedonia to join NATO.
  • The circumvention of sanctions through facilitators based in the European Union, but also European Union partners, like Turkey.
  • The implications of Chinese financing within the broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that has seen China gain control of strategic infrastructure, such as through the purchase of the Ports of Piraeus and Trieste.
  • The alleged financing of Members of the European Parliament by the governments of Qatar, Morocco, and Mauritania, in the notorious ‘Qatargate’ scandal.

Despite the above occurrences, our understanding of how foreign capital influences European politics, economics, and societies remains limited, with our understanding of the capital movements, corporate structures, and local facilitators that enable such processes being even more lacklustre. Equally, research on the non-financial objectives underpinning the transfer of foreign capital to Europe remains underdeveloped. The above have prompted a surge in financing on relevant projects, with examples being the Global Integrity – Anti-Corruption Evidence (GI-ACE) project supported by the British Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and several Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grants. Yet there remains a need for inter-disciplinary debate which will encourage research that is not siloed within conventional disciplinary confines.

Submissions from across disciplines and methodological approaches are welcome, with some suggested topics including:

  • Which novel methodological approaches, drawing from a variety of disciplines, can we draw from to better address the question?
  • How can we gain a more comprehensive understanding of how capital movements transpire, which are often intentionally concealed or become invisible when utilising quantitative approaches due to privacy considerations?
  • How can we understand the impact of foreign capital on societies through the concept of social remittances?
  • How can we understand the enabling of sanctions evasion by focusing on the human actors and networks?
  • Are current legislative provisions appropriate and/or appropriately enforced? Should there be a coordinated policy approach that would result in unified legislation on a European Union level? Alternatively, how do we achieve better enforcement?
Risk Regulation and Scientific Decision-Making in the European Union

Several scandals like the recent Dieselgate or the ongoing glyphosate saga shed light on the eroding capacity and legitimacy of the Single Market’s scientific decision-making in the current era of constant economic, environmental, and societal challenges. Yet, the need for solid science has never been greater. A sector-specific nature still characterizes the EU law and the Single Market competencies. The emerging relevance of the EU law’s horizontal evolution inevitably leads us to the cross-sectoral elements of the EU’s risk regulation and scientific decision-making.

The purposes of this track are:

  1. To describe the evolution of EU decision-making characterized by different types of EU-level bodies and the constant need for further capacity-building;
  2. To evaluate the risk assessment and risk management of specific policy areas while identifying some cross-sectoral lessons to be learned;
  3. To explore the changing nature of EU’s risk assessment and risk management inevitably being interrelated, as the theoretically objective risk assessment nowadays also involves more politicized risk management considerations;
  4. To assess how epistemic worries of expertization could be addressed with specific mechanisms (fora-based enhanced accountability of expertization; cognitive diversity and the disciplinary pluralism built into the scientific decision-making).

Following the Panel ’Risk Regulation, the EU Agencies and Institutional Innovation’ of the UACES 2019 Annual Conference organized by EU scholars, we attempt to address the newcomings of the EU’s scientific decision-making. Regarding the approach of the Track proposed, this involves not just the EU’s recent institutional innovations but a broader scope of policy issues of expertization with a focus on risk assessment vs. management dichotomy, the sector-specific and cross-sectoral (more horizontal) evolution of this area, not to mention the ever-growing need for specific mechanisms mentioned above. As the description of the Track has been formulated relatively widely, we welcome paper and presentation proposals from political, legal, and sociology scholars, experts in scientific decision-making, and engineers. 

Taking Stock and Rethinking the Role of War in European Integration

At a time of multiple wars in and around Europe, we propose a timely theme to comprehend the intricate and underexplored relationship between war and cooperation in Europe. More particularly, we are interested in focusing on the role of war in political integration in Europe. European integration is often celebrated as a peace project, though historically it owes much of its genesis to the profound influence of war. Although existing scholarship tends to focus on the economic and political aspects of European integration, in our proposed track we encourage contributions that approach conflict and security imperatives as catalysts for European integration.

In this understanding, we hope to see interdisciplinary presentations on the legacy and changing role of war, conflict and security in historical and contemporary events about European integration. These contributions can cover not only military and defence matters, but also areas such as economy, energy and environment.