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The European Union in Crisis: Challenges, Compromises, Results


Admission requirements

Participation in the seminar is only permitted if the propaedeutic phase has been passed (60 EC).


In the last decade, the European Union (EU) has been confronted with multiple crises. The nature of crises was diverse, affecting key policy areas such as the economic and monetary union, justice and home affairs, common foreign and security policy, environmental and health affairs, as well as crucial constitutional aspects. As a supranational polity with a complex multi-level governance system, the EU was not equipped to deal with emergency politics. The EU response to crises was often slow, fragmented, and incomplete, attracting criticism both from a problem-solving and democratic legitimacy perspective. Against this background, Eurosceptic parties have gained ground across Member States, making it even more difficult for governments to reach compromises on collective solutions.

This seminar will explore specific challenges faced by the EU in recent years. The substantive part of the course will cover different crisis episodes in detail: the euro crisis, the refugee crisis, the Ukraine crisis, Brexit and the rule of law crisis, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The emphasis will be on 1) institutional responses to crisis situations, 2) decision-making under time pressure and domestic constraints, and 3) outcomes for the European integration process more generally.

Course objectives:

  1. Understand EU responses to recent crises in different policy areas.
  2. Gain in-depth knowledge of a particular crisis episode and its treatment in the specialised literature.
  3. Conduct a small qualitative research project on EU responses to a crisis.

Mode of Instruction

This is a discussion-based course, so active participation is essential. The required readings will provide general frameworks for understanding and assessing a topic. The instructor will introduce the subject each week, often with the help of student presentations on the facts of a specific crisis. As seminars are student-centred, your input is crucial: you are encouraged to engage critically with the readings and consider ways in which the course material could be used for your final papers.

Study Material

Academic articles illustrating qualitative research on various aspects of crises.

Assessment Methods

o Active participation in class discussions (15%)
o Class presentation (25%)
o Outline research paper (20%)
o Final research paper (40%)


See 'Practical Information'


See 'MyTimetable'