The European Constitution. Genesis and Uses

The European Constitution. Genesis and Uses

Organised by Antonin Cohen & Antoine Vauchez with the support of the European Commission (FP6) and the Region of Picardie
University of Amiens
From - Until
16.06.2004 - 17.06.2004
Laborier, Pascale

The Centre for Administrative and Political Research of the University of Picardie (CURAPP) is organising an interdisciplinary international conference on the European Constitution. The conference aims at bringing together researchers from the different social sciences political science, sociology, history, law and other related disciplines whose research is concerned with the various issues raised by the new European Constitution: from its political genesis to its social uses.

Over the last fifteen years, the European Union experienced an unprecedented succession of ³founding² moments materialised in a long series of conventions, intergovernmental conferences, treaties, referendums, as well as a Charter of Fundamental Rights and a Constitutional Treaty. This intensification of institutional and political reform corresponded with an «enlargement» of the social spheres, both national and international, now connected to the process of European integration. In this respect, two observations can be made. The opening of new windows of opportunity and the multiplication of consultation and negotiation procedures encouraged the mobilisation of national political actors and social groups ; as well as the formation of transnational networks and coalitions advocating a host of new issues, ranging from the recognition of a Christian legacy, the establishment of a European judicial space, the creation of a common foreign policy, the definition of a specific social model, the promotion of a shared system of values, etc. At the same time, this political and institutional configuration facilitated the emergence and/or consolidation of specific expertises, which, in turn, participated in the social construction of various sorts of knowledge that helped legitimise the new European developments.

By studying the social processes structuring the new European configuration, the conference aims at enlarging the scope of analysis of European integration. While the traditional games of alliances within Community institutions obviously remain important, the conference will also focus on the broader political background of this constitution-making process : its historical depth, by studying the successive genesis of a European constitutional utopia in the 19th and 20th Centuries, as well as the present references to historical precedents or founding fathers ; its intellectual 'preconditions' and 'prerequisites', by studying the various rationalisations that gave birth to 'realities' such as a European 'public opinion', 'legal inheritance', 'civil society', 'citizenship', 'history' or 'identity'. Further, the conference seeks to focus on the contemporary constitutional debates and controversies, as well as on the specific arenas in which they took form : from a social point of view, by studying the preceding transformations in the structure of dominant elites and legitimate knowledge in Europe, for example, the emergence of a specialized body of knowledge on European integration, its institutions, its administration and its law; from a political point of view, by studying the investments of politics and policy professionals in these debates and arenas, and the underlying sectorial and inter-sectorial mobilisations, in particular within political parties, trade-unions, pressure groups, non-governmental organisations, professional bodies, lobbying and consultancy firms, teaching and research institutions, think tanks or the media.

Potential participants should send a one-page abstract and a short curriculum vitae before January 5, 2004 to the organisers : Antonin Cohen : <> , Antoine Vauchez : <> . Working languages are both French and English. The University of Picardie will reimburse all expenses of the participants related to travel and accommodation.

The abstract should indicate to which of the following panels the paper would suit:

1. The Genesis of a European Constitutional Utopia

This panel will analyse the key historical moments and social spheres of the genesis of a juridical and political utopia, the European Constitution, as well as the various references to history generated by the current mobilisations. The papers could highlight the relationships between these various projects and the specifics of their historical background, as well as the various social and political milieus in which they originated.

2. The &#8216;Prerequisites&#8217; of a European Constitution

This panel will investigate the social construction of European constitutionalism, its prerequisites and preconditions, and analyse the political and legal mobilisations which conferred intellectual legitimacy to such a project. The papers could underline the various academic, political or bureaucratic investments that gave birth to transnational epistemic communities, as well as the mobilisations of non-governmental organisations in this regard.

3. Institutional Competitions and Agenda-setting

This panel will focus on the birth of the European Constitution recently submitted to ratification. Papers analysing both national and European levels, as well as the multilevel interplay between the various actors involved, are particularly encouraged. The papers could address the role of the Constitutional Committee of the European Parliament, the various expert committees created by the European Commission, or the influence of pro-European movements and other pressure groups.

4. The Constitutional Debate and its Actors

This panel will focus on the European Convention and the Intergovernmental Conference in the drafting of the European Constitution. The papers could study the composition of the Convention, as well as the various types of ³entrepreneurs² that contributed to structuring the debates. The papers could also focus on the influence of external organisations and pressure groups in this regard, as well as on the impact of bureaucratic and legal routines and decision-making processes on the intergovernmental conference.

5. Political and Social Mobilisations and the Adoption of the European Constitution

This panel will analyse the political and social issues and mobilisations that emerged in response to the adoption of the European Constitution. Papers focussing on the political positioning on this issue, during the 2004 elections to the European Parliament, as well as during the 2005 referendums are particularly welcomed. The papers could also address the uses of the European Constitution on the more local levels and on infra-national political and institutional configurations.


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