2016-17 Past, Present and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level

2017-euc-courseThis course Past, Present and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level for graduate students is given in collaboration between the European University Centre (EUC), School of Government and Centre for European Studies at Peking University. The participating professors are from Peking University, CASS, Lund University, University College Dublin and University of Warsaw.

The course gives 3 Chinese credits and will develop during 15 weeks in Spring 2017 with a final examination seminar in June 2017.

Prior Knowledge in European Studies is an advantage, but not a precondition. The students are supposed to have English language proficiency to a level that enables them to follow the lectures and take active part in the seminar discussions. The examination in form of a final paper may be written in either English or Chinese.

All lectures will be held on Thursdays at:

Room 502,Leo KoGuan Building, School of Government of Peking University

Course Time:13:00-16:00 and Seminar Time:18:40-20:30

Course Syllabus:

February 23 2017

Prof. Duan Demin, Peking University


Introduction to the theme of this course—“Past, Present and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level,” and also to the course itself, including the schedule, readings, evaluation, etc.

March 2 2017

Prof. Tomas Sniegon, Lund University

Topic: Making Sense of Europe’s Past


The attempts to construct a common “European memory” and “European democratic values” since the end of the Cold War and their problems.

The lecture would present how some central institutions of the European Union have attempted to develop a common European historical narrative and common perception of European past after the end of the Cold War, this in order to define and promote new common “European” democratic values. The central place would be given to the Holocaust and its place in this new European historical culture. The following seminar would be based on relevant readings illustrating the problems between “Eastern” and “Western” attitudes to the common European memory of the most traumatic historical events of the 20th Century, as well as the main problems between regional, national and supranational levels of such memory.

March 16  2017

Prof. Alexander Dukalskis, University College Dublin

Topic: International Relations Theory, Democracy, and Rights


The aim of this week is to understand a variety of international relations (IR) theories that will help students analyze the role of democracy in the European Union. The content will thus not necessarily be about the European Union as such, but rather will focus on theoretical and analytical tools from political science and international relations. This week will cover several interesting questions about the relationships between states, international organizations, elites, and ordinary citizens. For example: what is the role of democracy in international organizations? What is ‘multilevel governance’? What about ‘mainstreaming’?  Why do states sign up to international human rights agreements? Do they comply with those agreements? Can regional international organizations democratize their members? These and other related questions will be discussed.

The focus will be on analyzing and discussing the readings, however the lecturer will provide some ‘soft’ lecture content to help situate students who may be unfamiliar with IR. For example, the lecturer will cover the three major “isms” in IR – realism, liberalism, and constructivism – so that students can discuss the readings armed with appropriate background information.

The teaching plan relies on students coming to both sessions having completed the required readings and being ready to discuss them with the lecturer and their classmates. The format of the session will mostly be discussion-based, but there will be some ‘soft’ lecturing (i.e. explanation of key concepts by the lecturer), small-group discussion, and application of theory to cases.

March 30  2017

Prof. Zhang Lei, Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Topic: The European Parliament and the Democracy of the European Union


As one of the three major institutions of the European Union, the European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level. The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically. Over the years and with subsequent changes in European treaties, the Parliament has acquired substantial legislative and budgetary powers that allow it to set, together with the representatives of the governments of the Member States in the Council, the direction in which the European project is heading. In doing so, the Parliament has sought to promote democracy and human rights – not only in Europe, but also throughout the world.

The lecture of this week is to present the development of the European Parliament and the role played by it in constructing the EU’s democracy.  The first part will trace the development of the EP and its internal working mechanism. The second part will try to analyse the European elections and the democracy of the EU. The last part will focus on the EP and EU-China relations.

April 13 2017

Prof. Rashedur Chowdhury, University College Dublin

Topic:Stakeholder Management in the Context of 21st Century


The aim of this course is to discuss how firms can manage their stakeholders through moral, political, and democratic ideals and innovation so that firms avoid negative sociopolitical and economic consequences. Stakeholder management through moral and democratic mechanisms does not mean that firms incur economic loss. Instead, such management can help firms to build a strong stakeholder community as a support base and gain competitive advantage in the long run. Through the case illustration of access to low-cost HIV/AIDS medicines in South Africa and Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, this lecture will show the potential conditions and mechanisms that may be able to develop moral and democratic ideals for firms. This lecture would be highly interactive and help students to critically evaluate the relevance of a contemporary conceptual and empirical debates in business and management literature, more specifically in the field of business ethics.

April 27 2017

Prof. Duan Demin: Discussion & Term Paper Proposal

Discussion & Term Paper Proposal:

This session is reserved for two purposes: 1. General discussion/communication over what has been taught during the previous sessions, whether there are things that can be improved, etc. 2. Students are expected to present their term paper proposal, which shall be commented by Prof. Duan and the students.

May 11 2017

Prof. Piotr Bogdanowicz, University of Warsaw

Topic: Democracy and Member States in the EU

(Can the European Union Protect Democracy in Member States?)


The European Union is founded on a common set of values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which include, among other things, the respect for democracy. Only European State which respects the values referred to therein, including democracy, and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the European Union. Although there is no definition of democracy in the European Union, it is submitted that the rule of law is the backbone of any modern democracy.

In 2014 the European Commission (Commission) adopted a Communication “A new EU Framework to Strengthen the Rule of Law”. It sets out how the European Commission will react should clear indications of a threat to the rule of law emerge in a Member State of the European Union and explains the principles which the rule of law entails.

In 2016, for the first time in the history, the Commission used the said Communication and initiated a so-called “rule of law procedure” against the Republic of Poland. The main reason was that the Polish Parliament adopted a law amending the law on the Constitutional Tribunal, which concerned the functioning of the Tribunal as well as the independence of its judges. The Commission is now in a dialogue with the institutions of the Republic of Poland in order to clarify the issues at hand and identify possible solutions. In a worst-case scenario the whole situation may culminate in the suspension of certain rights deriving from the application of the European Union law to the Republic of Poland.

Leaving aside the situation in the Republic of Poland and the Commission’s concerns, several more general questions may arise. I would like to focus on the following. First of all, does the European Union have the authority to protect democracy in Member States? Then, does the European Union have the competence to protect democracy in Member States? If yes, is the Communication a right measure to protect democracy in Member States?

May 25 2017

Prof. Andy Storey, University College Dublin

Topic:The European Crisis and its Impact on Opposition to European Integration: Challenges from Right and Left


The European economic crisis has been responded to in two key ways by European decision-makers.  One is the introduction or intensification of a series of economic reforms designed, in theory, to make economies more competitive (by, for example, making labour markets more flexible) and obliging national governments to maintain greater levels of fiscal discipline through limitations being placed on allowable deficit and debt levels. The second, closely related, response is to seek to transfer greater control to European-level institutions and away from national governments, especially to ensure that national governments are obliged to implement the first set of responses.  These developments have had significant consequences for democracy and have generated significant levels of opposition from national-level forces resistant to the loss of national decision-making powers. The opposition has taken both right-wing and left-wing forms, but it is generally the case that right-wing forces (such as the National Front in France) have made the greatest electoral gains.  Most strikingly, a broadly right-wing campaign for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU) was successful in 2016, building on the above mentioned factors but also on the cultivation of anti-immigrant feelings and on the portrayal of the EU as, in a general sense, overly interfering in British affairs. Left-wing forces have tended to be less anti-EU in their approach and, concomitantly, to be less enthusiastic about embracing nationalist programmes against European integration.  The reasons for these divergent patterns and outcomes will be delineated and their likely consequences for the future of European integration assessed.

June 1 2017

Course wrap-up

Prof. Duan Demin, Peking University

 Examination: Final paper

As examination of the course the students write an individual paper (in English or Chinese), answering both question here below.

The course has presented some concepts and theories that may help us to understand and analyze the issue of the “Past, Present and Future of Democracy on the European Union Level.”

  1. Discuss in relation to the course readings why democracy on the European Union level is so vital to the prospect and the existence of the EU itself.
  1. Discuss in relation to the readings how the project of European Integration could be effected, positively or negatively, by democratic processes within EU member states. 

The length of the paper should be around 7-10 pages/3500-5000 words (Times New Roman 12, line spacing 1.5).

You will have to submit your paper on the course website on 31 May at the latest.


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