Report: International Workshop on "The EU and Peripheries in Competition"

Jul 04, 2016

Workshop Participants

Workshop Participants
Image Credit: KFG

The Workshop on “Peripheries in Competition? The Politics and Political Economy of Convergence and Divergence in the EU” took place on June 13 and 14, 2016 at the Freie Universität Berlin. The organizers Tanja A. Börzel, Rachel Epstein, and Martin Rhodes brought together a dozen scholars specializing in the politics and political economy of Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe from both the EU and the US.

This interdisciplinary workshop sought to bring together insights of political science, political and economic history, and political economy to assess and explain the variable levels of the political and socio-economic development found in Europe’s Southern and Eastern peripheries – after two waves of EU enlargement, the creation of a single market and the launching of a single currency.

The workshop was organized around five panels: Peripheries in Crisis; Southern European Capitalism; Conditionality and the Constraints of EU Membership; The Dynamics of Finance and Taxation in the Periphery; and Political and Economic Challenges in the Periphery (for further details on speakers and papers, see the program under this link).

The discussions focused on the following themes: What are the long-term developmental legacies, both political and economic, found in Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe and how do they contribute to or mitigate divergence from the core? Has integration with the EU – along various dimensions – helped overcome impediments to political and economic convergence or has it exacerbated them? How successful has the EU been in helping to “lock-in” democratic change in the Eastern and Southern peripheries and what kinds of instruments can the EU use to safeguard the political change in those countries that qualified them for membership? How successful has the EU been in promoting political and economic developments in the current candidates and neighborhood countries despite weaker or absent membership conditionality? Are there longue dureé, path-dependent, structural economic or institutional features of the EU peripheries that are highly resistant to policy manipulation? Why do longstanding developmental divisions in Europe appear so difficult to undo? Is this a consequence of domestic institutional legacies, or a failure of the EU model? And are there long-standing cultural characteristics that are still operating?