UCL European Institute


Dr Claudia Sternberg



Head of Academic Programming


Claudia is a scholar of European and international politics. She is particularly interested in political power or authority, and the role that ideas, ideologies, and stories can play in shaping the relationships between citizens, peoples, and their states or international organisations. She seeks to bridge the gap between theoretical and empirical research, by exploring what concepts such as 'legitimacy' or 'recognition' mean to different people.

Her work on the European Union's struggle for legitimacy traces the history of ideas and contests regarding the EU's legitimacy in public debate and in discourses of the European institutions, and asks what we can learn from it with a view to political legitimacy more broadly. Her second monograph, co-authored with Kalypso Nicolaidis and Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni, explores the Euro crisis from the perspective of mutual recognition, an idea at the very heart of the European project, and of how Greeks and Germans have offended each other over its course, and how to recover from this.  

Claudia joined the Institute in 2015, coming to UCL from Oxford University, where she was an Early Career Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations Oxford and St Hugh's College (2009-2015) and also held a Research Fellowship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (2009-2011). Trained at Cambridge (PhD, MPhil), Yale (MA), Sciences Po (recurrent visiting doctoral student), and the Freie Universität Berlin (undergraduate), she also spent one year as a contract lecturer at Sciences Po Paris and Wiener-Anspach Postdoctoral Fellow at the Université libre in Brussel (2008-2009).

Her research has received the 2014 UACES Best Book Prize, the 2015 Pademia and the 2013 Theseus Awards, as well as the 2002 Sage Award for Best APSA Paper in Comparative Politics.


2023 (edited with Sophia Psarra and Uta Staiger). Parliament Buildings: The architecture of politics in Europe. UCL Press (open access).

2017 (with Kalypso Nicolaïdis and Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni). The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis: Mutual Recognition Lost? Palgrave.

2015 (edited with Eric Monnet). Euro: les années critiques, Presses universitaires de France/ La vie des idées.

2013. The Struggle for EU Legitimacy. Public Contestation, 1950-2005, Palgrave.

Peer-reviewed articles and chapters

2023. Narratives around EU Democracy. In: Mathieu Segers and Steven Van Hecke, eds, Cambridge History of European Union, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2023 (with Sophia Psarra and Uta Staiger). Introduction: parliament buildings and the architecture of politics in Europe, in: Sophia Psarra, Uta Staiger and Claudia Sternberg, eds., Parliament Buildings: The Architecture of Politics in Europe, London: UCL Press (open access).

2023. Ideologies and imaginaries of EU legitimacy from the 1950s: shifts in EU-Official discourses against Rosanvallon’s Democratic Legitimacy. In: Jan Komarek, ed., European constitutional imaginaries and ideologies, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2021. The French and Dutch Block the Constitutional Treaty. In: Julie Smith, ed., Palgrave Handbook on European Referendums, 583-600 (open access).

2021. Ideologies and Imaginaries of Legitimacy from the 1950s to Today: Trajectories of EU-Official Discourses Read Against Rosanvallon’s Democratic Legitimacy. iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 230, 
IMAGINE Working Paper, No. 13. In: Jan Komarek, ed., European Constitutional Imaginaries: Between ideology and Utopia (Oxford, OUP).

2016. Culture and the EU's Struggle for Legitimacy, in Yoeri Albrecht and Mathieu Segers, eds 'Re:Thinking Europe: Thoughts on Europe-Past, Present and Future, Amsterdam University Press, 155-67.

2016: Public Opinion in the EU Institutions' Discourses on EU Legitimacy From the Beginnings of Integration to Today, Politique européenne 54/4: 24-56 (open access).

2015. What Were the French Telling us by Voting Down the "EU Constitution"? A Case for Interpretive Research on Referendum Debates, Comparative European Politics 21/2:1-26 (open access).

2015. Political Legitimacy Between Democracy and Effectiveness: Trade- Offs, Interdependencies, and Discursive Constructions by the EU Institutions, European Political Science Review 07/04: 615-38 (open access).

2015 (with Kalypso Nicolaïdis and Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni). The Euro Crisis and the denial of the other. Rebuilding mutual recognition, in Eric Monnet and Claudia Sternberg, eds Euro: les années critique, Presses universitaires de France (open access).

2004 (as Claudia Schrag, with Frances Rosenbluth and Matthew Light). The Politics of Gender Equality: Explaining Variation in Fertility Levels in Rich Countries, Women and Politics 26/2:1-25 (open access).