Forum co-hosts a Panel Discussion on "Centrifugal and Centripetal Forces in EU-Integration”

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The panel talks about the book. (L-R) Dr. Wilhelm knelangen, Prof.Dr. Andreas Maurer, Dr. Katrin Bottger, Prof.Dr.Christian Joerges, Prof.Dr. Martin Hopner

On Tuesday 11 February 2014, the Forum of Federations in cooperation with its partner organisations presented the book Conceptualising European Disintegration at a workshop entitled “Let us rethink Europe!” at the state representation of Baden Wuerttemberg in Berlin. The book is the final outcome of a project co-organised by the Forum (see http://www.forumfed.org/en/events/event.php?id=770 The event was divided into two parts with the book presentation and a subsequent discussion in the morning and another discussion on perspectives for research and practical (state) politics in the afternoon. The aim was to bring together representatives of academia and politics in order to discuss integrative and disintegrative forces in the European unification process. The editors of the book, Dr Annegret Eppler (University Innsbruck) and Dr Henrik Scheller (University Potsdam), introduced the key results of their recent publication Conceptualising European Disintegration – driving and opposing forces in the process of European integration (in German: Zur Konzeptionalisierung europäischer Desintegration – Zug- und Gegenkräfte im europäischen Integrationsprozess). The authors’ motivation for this book stems from the financial crisis’ backlashes to the process of European integration despite accelerated integration efforts. With this in mind, their work is based on the idea to rethink dimensions of disintegration and integration in economic, territorial, socio-cultural and legitimate terms. The subsequent discussion, moderated by Dr Katrin Böttger (Institute for European Politics), was introduced by short inputs of each of the podium’s guests who made good use of their time to give their opinion of the publication and the topic more broadly. Thereby, they were able to sketch out to the audience some of the controversial debates on the topic within the academic community such as ever new interpretations of the EU’s multi-level character. The reaction by the podium guests was divers; however, much debate was generated by the idea of the socio-cultural dimension of the EU. Prof Dr Martin Höpner (Max Planck Institute for the study of societies, Cologne), started the discussion in support of the idea to get rid of a widespread fallacy: the more European integration the better for European integration. Dr Knelangen (University of Kiel), on the one hand, outlined several factors that need reconsideration such as the fields described in the book and the growing Euro-scepticism in the light of the forthcoming European elections – an influential socio-cultural factor. Prof Dr Andreas Maurer (University Innsbruck), on the other hand, stated that the increased conflicts between the people of different member states was a consequence of a new European public structure which allows for a growing politicisation. The discussion was supplemented by the contribution of Prof Dr Dr h.c. Christian Joerges (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin) – a law professor. He used the opportunity to portray the judicial view on the EU. Subsequently, the discussion was opened to audience. The questions varied from detailed ones regarding specific issues covered by the publication to more general concerns. One guest, for instance, was pointing at the socio-cultural aspects of “true” Europeans who, according to the speaker, are widely ignored in the debates on growing Euro-scepticism. The discussion in the afternoon was continued with a somewhat different focus. Johannes Jung, director of the state representation of Baden Wuerttemberg in Brussels, had been invited in an effort to combine the theoretically challenging input of the morning with the political practice on the ground. The input provided interesting insights to the role of the state representation in Brussels and on regional cooperation. According to Jung an important contribution to integration or rather the prevention of disintegration is made by the use of informal cooperation and the demonstration of tolerance toward countries/regions such as Hungary and Catalonia in order to not push them further into isolation. The discussion was lead by Dr Reinold Herber (Senior Advisor, Forum of Federations). The event was organised by the state representation of Baden Wuerttemberg in cooperation with the Forum of Federations, the Institute for European Politics (Institut für Europäische Politik e.V.) and the Working Group on European Integration (Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration e.V.). About 60 people attended the event. Book Flyer and Ordering

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