13th History of European Integration Research Society (HEIRS) Conference
Luxembourg-Ville, 23-25 March 2017
Treaties and laws constitute the formal fundaments of European integration. Yet, informal activities on the European intergovernmental, supranational and transnational stage have often been a necessary precondition for concerted action leading to binding agreements and political change. National delegations met not only at negotiation tables when drafting new Community treaties or negotiating legal texts, but made decisive bargains in informal settings. Members of supranational institutions, such as notably the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament and, more recently, the European Central Bank, went far beyond the framework of tasks and responsibilities initially provided for them, and thus decisively shaped their own role as well as European policy areas. Interest groups have aimed to exert influence on decision-makers by way of informal strategies ranging from argumentative persuasion to political pressure.
In the course of European integration, not only soaring ambitions of governments, institutions or individuals led to the deviation from officially outlined paths and procedures: in the construction of a united Europe, events such as crises, catastrophes and conflicts opened up or pointed out voids in the evolving trans- and supranational structures. Hence, those concerned with finding European level solutions had little choice but to seek new, effective, though not (yet) provided ways to solve arising issues. In many cases, these new ways served those pursuing them in strengthening their own institution in the long term, although it regularly brought them into conflict with (supra)national actors and vested interests.
This conference aims to bring together scholars studying informal procedures that shaped European politics – both in the EU and in transnational co-operations. Next to research on the conference theme itself, methodological approaches to the analysis of informal processes are of interest: such processes often produce few source documents, which may in addition be hard to access. The theme of the conference thus also poses the methodological question of how to demonstrate and analyse the seemingly invisible – influence and socialisation, attitudes and interests, informal bargaining and conflicts, to only name a few. HEIRS invites particularly PhD candidates at any point in their research project, as well as postdoctoral researchers, to present their insights on the conference theme.