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The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence "The EU and its Citizens"

Since 2009 the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence "The EU and its Citizens" links the expertise and research activities on European Integration at the Freie Universität Berlin. Seven scholars from four different disciplines (political science, law, sociology, and communication science) try to explore the relationship between the EU and its citizens as one of the major challenges of European integration. In doing so, the aim is to sustain and further strengthen the outstanding position of the Freie Universität in European Union (EU) studies, but also to disseminate the cumulative knowledge produced by our joint activities to both the academic community, practitioners and the wider public.

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence “The EU and its citizens” pools  expertise and  activities on European Integration at Freie Universität Berlin. It is mainly focussing on research and teaching regarding civil societies and their development. This includes issues like the values and attitudes of citizens, the Europeanization of public spheres, and questions of EU citizenship and rights empowering civil society organizations. In addition, civil society groups are supposed to be systematically included into the activities of the Centre. Not only is contact to civil society and to practitioners greatly facilitated by the fact that the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence is located in the German capital of Berlin. Furthermore, all activities of the Centre will make a special effort toward outreach activities with regard to the media and to non-governmental organizations. In doing so, the Centre will be open to practitioners and to civil society organizations, but also to schools in the Berlin area bringing the EU closer to its younger citizens.

The EU is the most successful integration project in history, but is about to lose the support of its citizens. The interdisciplinary Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence "The EU and its Citizens"  addresses this challenge focusing on the relationship between the EU and its citizens with regard to a) the commonality of values and attitudes among European citizens as preconditions for developing a European identity, b) the European public sphere as the arena in which communications between policy-makers and citizens take place, c) the diffusion of EU rights empowering citizens , and d) the assessment and development of new and computer-aided methodologies to study the relationship between the EU and its citizens.

The combined expertise of the political scientists, sociologists, jurists and communication scientists involved the activties of the Centre aim at

  • fostering interdisciplinarity and synergies,
  • developing new databases and methodologies to conduct large-n studies on the EU and its citizens,
  • training junior scholars in the analysis of large-n datasets and in how to combine quantitative and qualitative methods,
  • producingepublications for both academic and larger audiences interested in EU issues,
  • engaging in outreach activities to foster the dialogue between the EU, practitioners, and civil society.

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence’on the EU and Its Citizens directly addresses one of the EU’s greatest challenges. The most successful integration project in history is seriously endangered by the potential loss of citizen support. The times of “permissive consensus” are definitely over and EU policies are increasingly politicized across the member states. Our work on the Europeanization of public spheres provides evidence on the ability of the EU and the European elites to communicate with the citizens. Moreover, we  address the issue how the EU might be able to bridge the increasing gap between elites and the citizens. Our studies on the Europeanization of citizen identities help us answer the most important question of how much identification with Europe and the EU is required to sustain the European project from the bottom up. Last not least, our work on compliance with EU law and regulations  offer insights into ways in which citizens can be empowered to voice their grievances with the EU without falling prey to populist parties on the political fringes left and right. In sum, we deliver (some) answers to major questions pertaining to the relationship between the EU and its citizens in the years to come.

Teaching and Training

Our activities are also relevant for education and training across Europe. Due to our manifold teaching and research activities undergraduate and graduate as well as doctoral students and junior scholars become involved in the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence.

Our teaching activities contribute to various programs of study at Freie Universität Berlin. We offer lectures and introductory courses Among others, these teaching activities provide a general understanding on the history, law, and sociology of European Integration and their theoretical underpinnings, but also on the mechanisms of the European Union and European politics in various policy fields. In addition, undergraduate and especially graduate classes offer in-depth knowledge on various topics of European Studies.

In addition, the Centre provides the appropriate environment to conduct workshops and conferences.These events give doctoral students and junior scholars from all over Europe the opportunity to present their work and to benefit from our quantitative and qualitative research.

Publications and Databases

Scholars participating in the activities of the Centre will join forces to work on large-scale data bases on the Europeanization of public spheres, on the coverage of military and humanitarian interventions in the mass media, and on the effectiveness of EU law in empowering its citizens. A particular focus is on the development of innovative methods to exploit these large-n datasets.To disseminate the cumulative knowledge generated by our joint research activities,publications are provided, including several monographies and articles in international peer-reviewed journals.

The external dimension of Sciene

The topic of our Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence – “The EU and its citizens” – is, of course, directly relevant for the civil society. This includes our research on values and attitudes of citizens, on the Europeanization of public spheres, and on EU citizenship and rights empowering civil society organizations. As result, civil society groups are systematically included in our activities. Contact to civil society and to practitioners is greatly facilitated by the fact that the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence is located in the German capital of Berlin. In addition, we closely cooperate with the Institute of European Politics as well as with the Research Division on European Integration at the SWP German Institute for International and Security Affairs, two major think tanks working on EU related topics. All our activities are open to practitioners and to civil society organizations. Correspondingly, we make a special effort toward outreach activities with regard to the media and to non-governmental organizations