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International and EU Governance


Prof. Esther Versluis (Maastricht University)
Dr. Rik de Ruiter (Universiteit Leiden)

Research agenda outline

With this colloquium we aim to bring together junior and senior scholars interested in the functioning of systems of multilevel governance, with a focus on levels of international and EU governance. In an ever globalizing world, the importance of politics and policy beyond the nation state is growing rapidly, resulting in changes in the multi-level polity in which the traditional nation state is only one of many relevant actors. An illustration of this phenomenon is the impact of the global financial crisis on the regulation of the financial sector in the European Union. Because of the financial crisis – triggered by, among others, private rating agencies – the EU is now able to regulate a field on which competences were until recently shielded by nation states from the influence of European integration. At the same time, the EU cannot introduce regulation in isolation from other international actors, such as the World Bank and the IMF.

Problems policy makers need to deal with at the national level and beyond are increasingly transboundary in nature, as modern societies are consisting of a tightly woven web of critical infrastructures crossing geographical borders and policy boundaries. As a result, risks and uncertainties easily spread over very diverse policy fields and spread both within the EU system of multi-level governance and also globally. Such transboundary problems are particularly hard to manage due to the fragmentation of authority and thus a lack of clear ownership and responsibility for tackling the problems at hand.

This colloquium covers questions related to this growing interconnectedness – and accompanying increasing levels of complexity and uncertainty – between levels of governance and government within and beyond the nation state. We would like to focus in this colloquium on the following topics:

  • Policy: How and to what extent are complex, uncertain and transboundary policy issues regulated effectively and responsibly at the European level and beyond?
  • Politics: How are relations between elected and non-elected public officials at the various levels in the multi-level polity affected by the growing interconnectedness?
  • Polity: What new institutional arrangements at the (sub)national, EU and international level emerge as a response to increasing globalization?


The aim of this colloquium is to:

  • Build a network to increase contacts between academics in the Netherlands and Flanders working on topics related to international and EU governance. This should result in a closer knit community of multi-level governance scholars.
  • Facilitate cooperation between researchers – both junior and senior – resulting in collaborative research projects, joint publications, and/or the organisation of panels at national and international conferences (e.g. ECPR, EUSA, EGPA).
  • Build a platform to exchange results of academic research between junior and senior scholars interested in topics related to international and EU governance.
  • Build a secure environment in which junior and senior scholars can receive and give feedback on work in progress, such as papers, manuscripts with an R&R, book proposals, and applications for research grants.

Linkage between core theme of the research colloquium and the themes of the NIG research program

The colloquium on international and EU governance is closely related with the first theme of the NIG research program, ‘Multi-level governance and Europe’. Just as the topic of the proposed colloquium, this theme focuses on the politics, policy and polity beyond the nation state.

Expected output

Particularly with such an international topic, it is unrealistic to expect a joint book or special issue project of sole Dutch/Flemish origin at the international level. The aim of this colloquium is thus much more to bring together junior and senior staff working on related issues, i.e. form new linkages and construct a network of scholars. We aim to achieve that the senior colleagues introduce the junior colleagues into their own international networks. Rather than focusing on large, overarching output, we more aim at output following from the cooperation between a smaller groups of scholars within this colloquium. Here we think of the following examples:

  • Panels at an international or national academic conference organized by participants of the colloquium.
  • Initiating special issues in a peer reviewed academic journal (with participants beyond this colloquium).
  • Initiating collaborative grant applications for research funding (again with participants beyond this colloquium).

Linkage between core theme of the research colloquium and the themes of the NIG research program

This colloquium  is linked to the NIG research themes ‘multi-level governance and Europe’, ‘multi-actor governance in complexity’ and ‘political institutions and democracy’, with a focus on the latter two themes. The colloquium focusses on the democratic aspects of multi-actor governance in complexity.