Early Career Scholars Workshop
Conflicts of sovereignty in the European Union in Crisis (SovEU)
Université libre de Bruxelles, 26 November 2020

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The workshop for early career scholars (final year PhD students, postdocs and junior professors) is part of the Wiener-Anspach project 'Conflicts of sovereignty in a European Union in crisis’ (SovEU). The project is premised upon the original hypothesis that the existential crisis faced by the EU over last decade cannot be reduced to a conflict between national sovereignty and supranational institutions but is rather the result of conflicts at the national level between different conceptions of national sovereignty, specifically the struggle between popular and parliamentary visions of national sovereignty. This became clear in cases as diverse as the Brexit conflicts between Parliament and the People; the centralisation of power in several Eastern European countries combined with the increasing marginalization of parliaments and political control over the judiciary; and finally, the confrontation between the Belgian region of Wallonia and the European Commission over CETA.

Moving our attention away from a struggle between national sovereignty and various external challengers, we are particularly interested in struggles between different visions about the nature and source of political authority – in short, who rules? Such an approach explores the politicization of the very concept of sovereignty and the resurgence of the difficult question of where final authority resides in a polity. Indeed, people are asking ‘who rules?’, not only in relationship to EU institutions, but also more fundamentally in terms of the basic configuration of national political authority (Holmes and Krastev 2019).

Opening the black box of sovereignty can be interpreted as a symptom of the crisis of European liberalism challenged by a growing conservative movement. But it is also the effect of the broader demand for “real democracy now” brought forward by the far left social movements with their focus on popular assemblies, democratic empowerment through technology and innovative alternatives to parliamentary representation.

Following up on the Special Issue Understanding Conflicts of Sovereignty in the EU in which a typology of different types of sovereignty claims was presented (supranational, state, popular and parliamentary sovereignty) we welcome early career scholars to share their research on conflicts of sovereignty within the EU.

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Meeting ID: 950 1748 7819
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