The Political Cultures of the EU

February 10, 2009

BARBIERThe Future of European Social Policy in a Time of Economic Crisis
Jean-Calude Barbier
Director of Research, CNRS and University of Paris I

Jean-Claude Barbier highlighted the fact that most Europeans cannot identify social Europe because “social Europe” is currently in crisis. This crisis has arisen because each of the 27 member states has its own system of social protection under national rule. The quasi-federal layer above that has yet to gain much significance. Barbier asked participants to consider whether the EU represents a new level of governance or a regional state because each has different consequences for the implementation of social protection. He went on to point out that part of this crisis stems from the limited funds that the EU has to implement social programs. Most of the organization’s money for member states comes from structural funds, which would not be sufficient to ensure adequate social protections. In conclusion, he noted that social policy is often a defining aspect of the nation-state, and that as long as the EU cannot provide social policy, its legitimacy is likely to be called into question.

February 18, 2009

BICKERTONEU Foreign Policy: Does It Work?
Christopher Bickerton
Lecturer in International Relations, University of Oxford

Christopher Bickerton focused his remarks on EU foreign policy, differentiating between “effectiveness” and “functionality.” He believes the focus on effectiveness is flawed and should be shifted to functionality. He pointed out common practices in defining EU foreign policy, for example, the “adjectival wall,” which means adding some adjective such as civilian, post-modern, etc. in front of the word “power” in order to describe the EUs political influence, especially in relation to other “superpowers” or “great powers.”

March 4, 2009

ZIPPELThe Politics of Sexual Harrassment: The Ping-Pong Effect in the European Union
Kathrin Zippel
Associate Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University

In her lecture on the Politics of Sexual Harrassment in the EU, Kathrin Zippel pointed outthat while the US has been at the forefront in the discussion of women’s issues and in the fight against sexual harassment, feminists in the EU have begun to make progress. Using Germany as a case study to highlight the EU experience, Zippel compared the two environments, noting the greater awareness of sexual harassment in the US. Europeans, she argued, are more hesitant to confront it as the outcomes are more uncertain. She described what amounts to a “ping-pong effect” resulting from the interaction between the EU and member states as activists lobby the EU for policies that have to be implemented at the national level but which raise issues that go back up to the EU level.

Listen to a podcast of this event

March 18, 2009

CAMERONThe Challenges for Central and Eastern Europe: From Democratic Deficits to Economic Crisis
David R. Cameron
Professor of Politics and Director of the European Studies Center at Yale University

David Cameron discussed the integration of the Central and Eastern European countries into the European Union. Cynics believe that these states were not focused on democracy or economic freedom in the accession process, but rather on doing whatever it took to become a part of the EU. He suggested that ideally these countries would have seen an increase in democracy as well as economic freedom; however, economic and political freedom have not gone hand in hand. He noted that while a market economy is not a guarantor of democracy, it is a necessary precondition of democracy.

April 1, 2009

CERUTTIHow Does the EU Build European Identity?
Furio Cerutti
Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Florence


LUCARELLISonia Lucarelli
Researcher and Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Bologna-Forlì

Furio Cerutti and Sonia Lucarelli focused their remarks on European identity. Cerutti suggested that identity is a process rather than a state of being; the process includes a number of identity-promoting factors such as laws, rulings, and policies, among other things. He divided identity into two levels: a “thick” cultural level and a “thin” political level. It includes not only what an actor is, but also what he or she would like to be. He hypothesized that idenity is a product of actors’ self-perceptions and self-aspirations, not projections of others. Lucarelli, for her part, reminded participants that others exist. She argued that labeling is important since it helps to create conceptual boundaries that are important to the process of constructing identity.

April 7, 2009

MILLERThe Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace
Aaron David Miller
Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar

The former State Department official serving six secretaries of state on Middle East issues and the Arab-Israeli peace process led a discussion on the Prospects for Peace Initiative. Miller answered questions about the peace process, drawing on personal experiences to render vividly, and critique honestly, important moments in Arab-Israeli negotiations over the past few decades.

Listen to Aaron David Miller on WBUR’s On Point Radio

October 1, 2009

International Conference: Gender Equality in the US and the EU

Download Conference Program

October 6, 2009

KAKOURISWhy Reunification Matters
Andreas Kakouris
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cyrpus to the United States

Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the on-going occupation, which has separated Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Efforts at a solution have, to date, remained elusive. Ambassador Kakouris explored the consequences of the continued division and occupation of the island, EU relations with Turkey, and US interests in Cyprus. He discussed the prospects for the reunification of the island and its people arguing that a just and viable solution that serves the interests of the Cypriots will ultimately also be in the best interest of Turkey, the US, and the international community. He suggested that reunification would promote and safeguard the stability and prosperity of the region given Cyprus’s geographic position as the European Union’s lighthouse in the Eastern Mediterranean.

October 15, 2009

QUINTINThe European Union’s Modernisation Agenda
Odile Quintin
Director General for Education and Culture

Quintin opened her discussion with an attempt to identify the source of leadership in the European Union. She highlighted the main activities of each body noting that the Lisbon Treaty could stimulate important changes in power structure (her talk took place before the Czech President ratified the treaty). She focused the second part of her talk on her specialty, which is education, noting that mobility, including study abroad, is key to education today. However, in Europe, language remains an obstacle to mobility. Because of this Quintin said her office strongly emphasizes the importance of language learning for all students. Quintin discussed the highly popular “Erasmus” program, which is the main study abroad program for European students, as well as opportunities for American students.

October 21, 2009

BLYTHWhat I Learned at the Financial Crisis: A Cautionary Tale of Complex Policy Making
Mark Blyth
Professorof International Political Economy at Brown University

In a fast-paced lecture, Blyth explained the ins and outs of the financial crisis in order to elucidate what’s going on beyond the surface. He likened the current crisis to past “bubbles,” and suggested that the recent financial crisis was a result of all of these bubbles converging. To illustrate his points, he used a variety of charts and graphs. The charts showed that the economy was clearly moving in one direction: down. To illustrate the perceptions and opinions of people in the industry, Blyth provided short quotes from interviews he had conducted with industry leaders. Many of the quotes were shocking, revealing a great sense of confusion in the industry. He concluded by suggesting that even if we manage to weather this crisis, there is another developing that will be even more difficult to overcome, in particular given how much the US has spent on the current one.

Listen to a podcast of this event

October 21, 2009

ABDELALConstructing the International Economy: Reflections in a Moment of Crisis
Rawi Abdelal
Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

BLYTHMark Blyth
Professor of International Political Economy at Brown University

Rawi Abdelal joined Mark Blyth for a special afternoon talk at Boston University. The two professors focused the discussion on their forthcoming book: Constructing the International Economy. Blyth introduced the book and described the various chapters and how they fit together. Abdelal discussed the value of constructivism for international political economy. He described the four ways that he and Blyth approached constructivism in their book:

  • Path of meaning (” the material world is always mediated by interpretations”)
  • Path of cognition (“cause and effect relations that agents use to understand the world”)
  • Path of uncertainty (“agents are faced with a world that is not full of calculable probabilities”)
  • Path of subjectivity (“post-structural take on constructivist IPE”)

Listen to a podcast of this event

October 28, 2009

LYNCHEnergy as Weapons: Ukraine, Russia, and European Security
Tammy Lynch
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Instititute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy, Boston University

ROSENBERGERChandler Rosenberger
Assistant Professor of International and Global Studies, Brandeis University

A discussion of energy supplies, transit and pipeline politics, particularly between Russia and Ukraine, and the effects of the use of energy as a weapon on European security.

November 2, 2009

PULZERGermany and the European Union
Peter Pulzer
Emeritus Gladstone Professor of Government and Emeritus Fellow of Old Souls College, Oxford; Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies

Peter Pulzer discussed Germany’s interaction with the European Union and the process of its re-integration with the rest of the West in the years following World War II. After World War II, Germany desired to reassimilate into Europe. Membership in the European community provided Germany with a chance to redeem itself – to “serve out probation” as it were and try to prove its ethical character. Germany even turned down an invitation to NATO to display its new commitment to peace. After 1989, Pulzer argued, Germany had proven its legitimacy and was no longer on “probation.” He suggested that Germany has since become a key leader and decision-maker.

Listen to a podcast of this event

November 17, 2009

KEYLORThe End of the Cold War: The Night the Masks Fell
William Keylor
Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University

LUKESIgor Lukes
Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University

Igor Lukes joined William Keylor to discuss the lead-up to and the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Lukes suggested that the West did not necessarily desire change and while the local actors may have wanted change, they did not have power to bring it about. Instead, he argued, the communist leadership was the primary agent of change. However, allthough Gorbachev’s reforms contributed to the destruction of communism, Lukes claimed this was not their intended purpose. Keylor focussed his remarks on the West’s reaction to the fall of the Berlin Wall and went on to broach the topic of German reunification. He noted that while the U.S. recognized the “inevitability of German reunification,” France and the UK were both more comfortable with a divided Germany. Keylor cited German reunification as a stimulus for France to push for European integration.

Listen to a podcast of this event

December 3, 2009

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProblems and Prospects for the EU after Lisbon
David Rennie
European Union Correspondent and Charlemagne columnist for the Economist

Rennie shared his thoughts on the future of the European Union with Boston University students and discussed his role as a journalist in Brussels. He said that while the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in the EU was supposed to have been a celebrated event, people in Brussells were instead “sunk in gloom.” He then laid out a compelling argument for why he feels the European project is in trouble, listing the trade offs that various actors in the EU must make in order for the EU to function. Students asked questions on a variety of topics from the internet and new media to the future of Europe as a global actor.

Listen to a podcast of this event