UCL European Institute



This strand placed the EU's struggle for legitimacy in the context of political legitimacy and its crises more broadly.

This research-focused strand brought together normative ideas with the empirical study of what makes people accept something as legitimate or not. It was convened by Dr Claudia Sternberg, Principal Research Fellow at the European Institute. Click on the headers below to find out about its to key outputs:

  1. an international workshop on political legitimacy, seen from the angles of multiple disciplines
  2. a book on denials and promises of mutual recognition in the Euro crisis, endorsed by the Greek and German foreign ministers. Listen to our podcast below to get a taste of it.
Through the Looking Glass: Political Legitimacy from Multiple Angles (Workshop, 13 July 2019)

This workshop brought together researchers working on political legitimacy from a range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives; from political philosophy over law, criminology, and behaviouralist survey-based social science to qualitative approaches and international relations. The purpose of the workshop was to engage with each other's takes on legitimacy:

  • What kinds of questions do we ask about legitimacy, and what kinds of answers have we found; what are major fault lines of debate and lines of inquiry in our respective fields?
  • What definitions or notions of political legitimacy do we advance and work with, and what is the picture of legitimacy that emerges from our work on it?
  • What kinds of methodological approaches have we applied to legitimacy, respectively, and how do they shape what we can expect to see?
  • What can we learn from each other? Can other ways of looking at legitimacy help us to think differently about the questions we want to ask about legitimacy, or can we begin to offer answers to each other’s questions?

Our fourteen participants came from ten universities in seven different countries: 

* Silje Aambo Langvatn (Oslo, Public and International Law, formerly Pluricourts)
* Rodney Barker (LSE, Government)
* Richard Bellamy (UCL, Political Science)
* Ben Bradford (UCL, Security and Crime Science/Global City Policing)
* Tom Christiano (University of Arizona, Philosophy)
* Oliver Gerstenberg (UCL, Laws)
* Amanda Greene (UCL, Political Philosophy)
* Alicia Blanco Gonzalez (King Juan Carlos University, Business Administration)
* Jon Jackson (LSE, Methodology)
* Nomi Lazar (Yale/National University of Singapore College, Political Theory)
* Chris Lord (Arena Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo, Politics)
* Thomas Sommerer (University of Stockholm, Political Science)
* Claudia Sternberg (UCL, Politics)
* Albert Weale (UCL, Political Theory and Public Policy)

The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis: Mutual Recognition Lost? (By Claudia Sternberg, Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni, and Kalypso Nicolaidis)

This book focuses on one of the most highly charged relationships of the Euro crisis, that between Greece and Germany, from 2009 to 2015. It explores the many ways in which Greeks and Germans represented and often insulted one another in the media, how their self-understanding shifted in the process, and how this in turn affected their respective appraisal of the EU and that which divides us or keeps us together as Europeans. These stories illustrate the book’s broader argument about mutual recognition, an idea and norm at the very heart of the European project. The book is constructed around a normative pivot. On one hand, the authors suggest that the tumultuous affair between the two peoples can be read as “mutual recognition lost” through a thousand cuts. On the other, they argue that the relationship has only bent rather than broken down, opening the potential for a renewed promise of mutual recognition and an ethos of “fair play” that may even re-source the EU as a whole. The book’s engaging story and original argument may appeal not only to experts of European politics and democracy, but also to interested or emotionally invested citizens, of whatever nationality.

'If the burden of the past reminds us that relations between Greece and Germany have not been easy at times, this has not always been the case. German national identity was shaped in part by ancient Greek culture, while the foundation of modern Greece took place during the rule of a Bavarian king. This book provides a highly valuable insight into the complexity of Greek-German relations within the EU and into the role of unjust stereotypes often dominating public debate.' (Nikos Kotzias, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs)

'This book is exceptional. It offers a highly valuable contribution to the literature on the ‘euro crisis’ as, unlike most work on the subject, the authors go far beyond a mere financial perspective. In doing so it manages to reshape our awareness of key European values.' (Sigmar Gabriel, German Minister of Foreign Affairs)


Through the Looking Glass: Political Legitimacy from Multiple Angles

Through the Looking Glass: Legitimacy Workshop

Workshop programme, 13 July 2019

Podcast: The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis

greco german

Listen to our informal chat with the book's three co-authors

The Book: The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis

claudia's book

Click here to get to the e-book, and for the publisher's web page

The Struggle for EU Legitimacy: Public Contestation, 1950-2004

The Struggle for EU Legitimacy: Public Contestation, 1950-2005

Claudia Sternberg's first book on EU legitimacy