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Overview of ongoing and completed research activities

The Centre for Comparative Politics of Germany and France engages in comparative political science with a focus on the politics and policies of France and Germany, as well as their role within the EU. Empirical problems, resulting from the interplay of state, economy and society in multi-level systems, form the basis of our theory-driven comparative analyses. Analytically and conceptually we favour actor- and institution-centered approaches, which are theoretically adaptable to a diverse range of research designs and comparisons, such as the comparison of states, policy fields and across time, as well as on mixed-methods designs, which combine qualitative case studies with comparisons of a moderate number of cases (N 30-90) and quantitative analyses. Current research in the centre is organized in to three streams:


        I.  Comparative State Activity

Here we investigate the relationship between the state and the market from a comparative perspective.

  • How does EU integration, demographic change or privatization impact upon a state’s economic, labour, family and social-policy?
  • How does this affect the interplay of policy fields as well as (indirectly) the role of the state?

How can we capture and measure these changes and compare them across countries?

Ongoing projects and current publications 

In addressing these questions Prof. Dr. Miriam Hartlapp contributes to a network of projects titled “European economic and social integration” (Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung Köln, Universität Bremen, Universität Tübingen, Freie Universität Berlin), which meets annually and seeks to strengthen research on the political crises and distribution problems resulting from increased integration.


- Hartlapp, M. (2017). Aktuelle Herausforderungen und Handlungsoptionen für Arbeits- und Sozialpolitik im EU Mehrebenensystem. Expertise für die Kommission „Arbeit der Zukunft“. Berlin: Hans-Böckler-Stiftung. Read the full text here.

- Graziano, P.R. & Hartlapp, M. (2015). La fin de l’Europe sociale ? Évaluation du rôle des changements politiques et organisationnels au sein du système politique de l’Union européenne. Revue française des affaires sociales (3): 89–114.  Full article.


      II.  Public Administration and Judicial Systems


Administrative institutions and judicial systems are of particular relevance for politics and the implementation of policies. They are therefore the object of inquiry in our second research stream.

  • How do we explain successful implementation of European and national policies in Germany and France?
  • When and why are EU institutions brought before the European Court of Justice and sued for their actions?
  • How does cooperation by administrative and juridical bodies develop between European countries?
  • What impact do political institutions have on the political representation of women and how does this impact upon policies?


Ongoing projects and current publications

The European Network on Soft Law asks how soft EU provisions that are non-binding legally, such as recommendations, guidelines or decisions, impact on Member States. How do national courts use this EU soft law in creating environmental, social, competition, and finance policies? How does EU soft law impact upon the legitimacy of rule in multi-level systems? The network is being coordinated by the University of Maastricht and consists of scientists from the Universities of Helsinki (FIN), Maastricht (NL), London (UK), Aix en Provence (F), Kranj (SI), and the Free University of Berlin, all of whom conduct comparativist research and teaching at their respective institutions. In the spring of 2019 a workshop will be held at the Free University of Berlin titled “Soft law in social policy”. A comprehensive project description can be found at https://www.solar-network.eu/home/.


Together with Christian Adam (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munich), Michael W. Bauer (Germany's Centre of Competence for Administrative Sciences in Speyer) and Emmanuelle Mathieu (Barcelona Institute for International Studies), we analyse annulment actions brought before the European Court of Justice. On the basis of a comprehensive dataset of all annulment actions since the founding treaties, as well as case studies, we investigate a number of phenomena that remain puzzling from a political science perspective: the clear dominance of cases from agricultural and competition policy, and the uneven distribution of successful litigation by and against certain member states. We also address the question of what motivates litigation and what impact multiple actor-constellations may have on these processes.

- Hartlapp, M. & Heidbreder, E. (2017). Mending the hole in multilevel implementation: Administrative cooperation related to worker mobility. GovernanceAccess the article here. 

- Hartlapp, M. (2014). Enforcing Social Europe through Labour Inspectorates: Changes in Capacity and Cooperation across Europe. West European Politics. Special Issue 'Implementing Social Europe in Times of Crises' 37(4): 805–824. Access the article here.

- Adam, C., Hartlapp, M., & Mathieu, E. (Eds.). (2018). From High Judges to Policy Stakeholders: Special Issue Journal of European Integration.

- Hartlapp, M. (2018). Power Shifts via the Judicial Arena: How Annulments Cases between EU Institutions Shape Competence Allocation. Journal of Common Market Studies. Advance online publication. Access the article here.


    III.  Conflict and Politicization in Europe


In this research stream we strive to account for and conceptualize political conflict, polarization and politicization as well as their respective effects, in order to better understand their consequences for the functioning of democracies.

  • How do increased politicization and conflict impact upon the EU’s multi-level system?
  • What are the implications of these shifts for traditional concepts such as the separation of powers?
  • What challenges are posed to the democracies of Germany and France in light of these ongoing developments?


Ongoing projects and current publications

Ongoing projects analyse the politicization and conflict lines between EU institutions, as well as their effect upon policy-output. Current developments suggest that responsiveness and populism will need to be investigated as major challenges to democratic systems.

Hartlapp, M. (2019). Integrating across policy sectors in the EU: How the wider public impacts on the drafting process of trans-border healthcare. International Review of Administrative Sciences 85(2).     

- Hartlapp, M. & Lorenz, Y. (2015). Die Europäische Kommission – ein (partei)politischer Akteur? Leviathan (1): 64–87. Nomos eLibrary. Access the article here.

- Hartlapp, M. & Wiesner, C. (eds) (2016). Gewaltenteilung und Demokratie im Mehrebenensystem der EU: neu, anders - oder weniger legitim? Sonderheft der Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Access the article here.

    IV. Databases

Following Databses are constantly updated:

- PEU Database
- SozPol Database