2015-16 European Integration and Anti-integration Sentiment

European integration continues to deepen with as major milestone the latest Lisbon Treaty of 2009 establishing the office of the presidency, the extension of powers of the European Parliament, the revision of voting procedures in the Council of Ministers, and the establishment of a High Representative office. At the same time, however, we see increased resistance to European integration in founding member states such as the Netherlands and France, where integration referendums delivered surprising “no” votes and anti-European political parties gather increased support in elections. In the recent elections in the United Kingdom, the Tories won the elections in part by promising a referendum on EU membership.

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 further underlined the close integration of the European economic systems, but also resulted tough austerity policies within member states under pressure from European partners. The backlash from these policies further encourages anti-integration attitudes, with voters blaming the European Union for some of their woes. Furthermore, anti-integration attitudes among the countries less affected by the crisis, which saw significant funds go to support the weaker economies, were strengthened.

This more local and anti-globalization sentiment is perhaps also visible on a more local scale, where we see a momentum of separatist movements in for example Scotland and Catalonia. The consequences of those tendencies for the European Union are unclear and the membership status of a potential separated region in a member state is undefined as it stands.

To what extent do the anti-integration sentiments form a threat to deepening – or maintaining – European integration? How do separatist pressures in member states affect European integration? How does the recent Global Financial Crisis impact on popular support for European integration? These are the kind of questions that will be asked in this course, to be answered from a multidisciplinary perspective. Students will be encouraged to link the topic with China’s own challenges. China is big country with very different cultures and ethnic identities, which has become more and more a political problem. Although there are certainly big differences between China and the EU in this regard, the nature of the problem could commonly be reduced to the concern of ‘how could different people live as one.’ The Chinese lessons may even be of help for European politicians and scholars in their thinking of their own challenges in this respect. The teaching and discussion under this theme would certainly be a great opportunity for both Chinese students/scholars and European professors to engage in a fruitful cross-cultural dialogue. A sequence of sub-themes would bring them to study and reflect on different aspects of this topic.

European Integration Course Schedule
Date Hours Lecture
Thursday, 8 October, 2015 3 Guest lecture
Thursday, 8 October, 2015 Public Seminar
Friday, 9 October, 2015 3 Guest Seminar
Thursday, 15 October, 2015 3 Guest lecture
Thursday, 15 October, 2015 Public Seminar
Friday, 16 October, 2015 3 Guest Seminar
Thursday, 29 October, 2015 3 Guest lecture
Thursday, 29 October, 2015 Public Seminar
Friday, 30 October, 2015 3 Guest Seminar
Thursday, 19 November, 2015 3 Guest lecture
Thursday, 19 November, 2015 Public Seminar
Friday, 20 November, 2015 3 Guest Seminar
Thursday, 3 December, 2015 3 Guest lecture
Thursday, 3 December, 2015 Public Seminar
Friday, 4 December, 2015 3 Guest Seminar
Thursday, 17 December, 2015 3 Guest lecture
Thursday, 17 December, 2015 Public Seminar
Friday, 18 December, 2015 3 Guest Seminar
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