The referent object of our teaching in (Global and) European Studies and European Public Administration is the multilevel character of European governance. In general, the term multilevel governance expresses the complexity of contemporary policy-making by emphasizing the need to go beyond traditional ways of thinking. ‘Multilevel’ points at the intertwinement of local, regional, national, continental and global oriented governmental institutions. These institutions and their agents are functioning in an open ‘multilevel’ structure rather than closed sub-state, state, and interstate structures. In EU Studies, the component ‘multilevel’ points at the intertwinement of political processes at the regional level (‘Europe of the Regions’), the level of the member-states and the level of the EU institutions in (mainly) Brussels.
There is no consensus about the definition of governance. In general, ‘governance’ refers to the intertwinement of public and private spheres, pulling attention to a new division of labour between them. The debate is to what extent societies are (and should!) be ruled by market forces, state power and/or civil society organisations. Questions of legitimacy, legal order, societal stability, privatisation and public responsibility intertwine – and require multidisciplinary approaches.
Multilevel governance is also the overarching theme in our research programmes. While staff members are pioneering at the edges of understanding multilevel governance, teaching focuses on the institutional and the thematic contexts of European governance:
The institutional context:
- Internally: How Europe Hits Home. We like to study and teach the structure and policies of international organisations and their institutions active in Europe in relation to the structure and policies of their (candidate) member-states.
- Externally: How Europe Fits the World. We like to analyse and discuss the role of European organisations and their member-states in global international organisations, as well as their relations with regional international organisations and national states.
The thematic context:
- Internally: How Europe Hits Home. We like to study and teach the development of the integration discourse (including the processes of widening and deepening), the social policies in the EU, European Security, the democratic deficit, and European environmental issues.
- Externally: How Europe Fits the World. We like to address North-South issues, developments in the world economy, the development of international public law (including the law of international organisations), and the study of violent conflict and of human rights issues.
Both contexts are squared with theoretical and methodological insights and questions from four basic disciplines: economics, law, political science and sociology, as well as their interdisciplinary contexts.
European Studies provides standard knowledge of and theoretical insight in:
- Related to Economics: the common economic policies of the EU, the EU budget; economic and monetary governance issues, including the functioning of the internal market and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); and theories about international economic relations, particularly between the EU and other trading-blocs;
- Related to Law: European Law; international public law; law of international organisations; and legal theory;
- Related to Political Science: the functioning and legitimacy of European international organisations and their institutions; political integration processes and theories; and international relations theory;
- Related to Sociology: sociological integration theories, specifically in face of the (im)possibilities of an emerging European welfare-‘state’ and European social policies.
Each of the sub-themes forms a specialisation by itself. The strength of the programmes consists of the combination of disciplinary perspectives: a graduated student surveys the width of issue-areas and knows where to find specialised expertise to work out comprehensive policy scenarios. Therefore, he or she can arrive at policy-oriented insights that cannot be expected from specialists in specific sub-fields.