The reform of Europe's political system, the drafting of a European "Constitution", and the question of the EU's normative foundations are key issues in public-political and academic debates. Our research addresses these issues in three ways:
Richard Bellamy has a long-standing interest in applying normative theory to the understanding of constitutionalism, democracy and citizenship in modern societies. One of the leading authorities in normative EU scholarship, he has co-edited three volumes on Citizenship and Governance in the European Union, Lineages of European Citizenship, and Making European Citizens that arise from major Leverhulme, EU and ESRC projects respectively. With Dario Castiglione and others he has also written extensively on both the constitutional process within the EU and its democratic deficit. He has developed a distinctive republican approach to these issues, that also has links with Cécile Laborde's work on citizenship, multiculturalism and republicanism.
Christine Reh is interested in the process and procedure of EU Treaty reform and in the informal dimension of constitutional politics. She has published work in the Journal of Common Market Studies and Journal of European Public Policy and has co-authored a monograph on Constitutionalizing the European Union, analysing in depth the formal and informal dynamics of constitution-building in Europe since the 1950s (with Thomas Christiansen).
In the framework of the Department's programme on Democracy and Democratisation Sherrill Stroschein looks at the politics of ethnicity in democratic and democratising states. Much of her research examines these dynamics within new EU Member States such as Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, but she also works on the Balkans as another focal point for the EU. Kristin M. Bakke’s work explores how institutions such as decentralization or federalism can or cannot help contain intrastate conflicts in internally divided states, comparing self-determination struggles in three federations: Russia, India, and Canada. She further studies dynamics of post-war societies, particularly in Bosnia and the North Caucasus region of Russia.
Our second area of research addresses pertinent questions of European governance, in particular the role played by organised interest and regulation in Europe. We address these questions in two projects:
David Coen's research is firmly embedded in the development of models and processes of EU Public Policy. More specifically, his research models and maps EU Business-Government Relations. This research addresses how far firms have developed distinct Brussels lobbying strategies and the consequences for domestic business-government systems and EU institutional development. The project considers the formal effects of EU forum politics, the Commission as a policy entrepreneur, and implications for insider and outsider interests in the EU policy process and lobbying best practices. David Coen's second research theme on EU regulatory reform studies the emergence of EU regulatory agencies and network governance in the Securities, Telecommunications and Energy sectors, and the convergence and continued differences in the regulatory regimes in Germany and the UK
Our third area of research links the study of European politics with wider debates about international decision-making, informal politics and the design and reform of legitimate international institutions. We address these questions in two ways:
Christine Reh is interested in the theory and practice of international negotiation and decision-making. Her work combines theories of argumentation, delegation and negotiation with empirical research on constitutional choice in Europe. She focuses in particular on the conditions under which complex international negotiations can be prepared effectively, and on the role played by negotiation styles and types of agreement. Her work on argumentation and compromise is closely linked to Richard Bellamy's, who has applied theories on the politics of compromise to negotiations in the Convention on the Future of Europe. Christine Reh's current research links her interest in informal decision-making with broader questions of legitimate governance and institutional design beyond the nation state, and she has been awarded an ESRC Research Grant to study recent developments in the EU’s legislative procedure. This two-year project on "The Informal Politics of Co-Decision" is conducted jointly with Prof. Adrienne Héritier (European University Institute) and investigates why, how and with which consequences EU decision-making is increasingly "fast-tracked" and shifted from public, inclusive to informal, secluded arenas.