The global financial crisis has represented a stringent test for the EU. The banking crisis, the sovereign debt crisis, wage cuts, massive unemployment in some member states, public spending cuts... all seem to have taken their toll. The rise of anti-Establishment and Eurosceptic parties (and the adoption of part of their ideologies by mainstream parties as a response) has cast doubts on the future of European integration. Questions such as the possibility of Grexit, the UK referendum on Brexit, or the reintroduction of national border controls as a response to the refugee crisis, are putting into question the survival of some of the EU’s most remarkable achievements, such as the single market, the Euro, or Schengen. Internal economic weakness and divisions among member states have also limited the possibilities for a common EU foreign policy, as evidenced by the conflicts in Ukraine or Syria, and damaged the EU’s image abroad.
This chair is based on three premises. First, it will not be possible to increase the EU’s voice in the world without solving the underlying internal economic and democratic problems that fuel the Eurosceptic and anti-Establishment challenge. Second, the response to this challenge requires not only an increase in information activities about the EU and its policies, but also scientific research and academic reflection about what can be improved and how, in constant contact with policy-makers and civil society. Third, economic processes do not take place in isolation from social and political processes. Critical economic issues such as the Euro crisis involve political choices, and political choices, in turn, are influenced by economic factors. This chair aims to maximise the unique benefits of interdisciplinary social science in the study of the EU.