EUI MWP Newsletter 19
Summer 2020

Welcome to the Summer 2020 Issue of the
Max Weber Programme Newsletter

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Feature Articles

Antonio AloisiLearning from the story of a wine family that decided to hire sharecroppers as employees, a new article depicts the employment relationship as a flexible instrument, capable of adapting to the changing nature of hyper‐digitized labour markets. Within the evolutionary model of labour law, social institutions can be better appreciated in relation to their capacity to provide a comprehensive umbrella for organizational innovations in times of digital transformation.

Antonio Aloisi* and Valerio De Stefano**

Angelo Gaja – one of Italy’s most iconic wine producers – shared a revealing anecdote about the secret of his wine’s long-lasting tradition of success. The story goes that, in bygone days, his father Giovanni was obsessed with the idea of creating superior Barbaresco wine by using very high-quality raw materials. He used to spend time walking through the vineyard getting rid of imperfect grapes with his pruning shears. In a time of austerity, this practice was perceived as sacrilege in the eponymous village of Barbaresco, in the wine district of Langhe, a hilly region at the foot of the western Alps. The mezzadri, the independent sharecroppers who tended the lands owned by the Gajas in exchange for a percentage of the harvest, believed that this attitudewas a sin against Nature, which gave them fruits that Giovanni dared to throw away with such complete disregard.

Giovanni, however, was so committed to excellence that he accepted the risk of producing even less in order to raise the quality of his wine by developing new techniques and testing ground-breaking processes. Still, the sharecroppers were dependent on volume, since their income was based on the quantity of grapes they were able to collect: the more, the better. Understandably, they were sceptical about Gaja’s wasteful approach. To reassure them, but also to make them follow stringent orders, Giovanni decided to hire them as employees. As a result, they could work without worrying about the harvest. More importantly, they had to tolerate the landowner’s legendary eccentricities and obey him – “even those who thought he was crazy” (Ferrero, 2018).

The innovator, intimately involved in all particulars of viticulture, has been rewarded for this attitude. Today, the winery – which celebrated its 160th anniversary in 2019 – is recognised as a worldwide reference for quality and modernisation.

We do not relate this anecdote merely out of a love of good wine. This is a good example of mutualization of risk, integration of the production chain, organizational efficiency, investment in long-term relationships, support for commitment, promotion of incentive alignment, and, not least, flexibility. Undoubtedly, it is a case of “fruitful” innovation. The Gaja story illustrates the argument that we made in a new article recently published in a Special Issue on the future of work of the International Labour Review. Contrary to warnings about the imminent fall into disuse of the standard employment relationship in the wake of technological disruption, calls for deregulation and the rise of alternative business models, existing social institutions may well co-exist with authentic modernization, even in the era of smart factories, hyper-digital systems and gig work. They can be true innovation facilitators, upholding and accelerating the digital transformation by providing legal solutions to genuine requests for flexibility.

In the article, we present employment regulation as a resilient and developmental legal tool, capable of adapting to constantly changing socio-economic landscapes. Moreover, we show that, compared to non-standard employment templates, standard forms of employment offer various efficiencies and cost advantages that cannot be disregarded if – as in the winemaker’s case – the purpose is to implement innovative and effective organizational strategies. First, they allow for the full exercise of managerial prerogative and functional flexibility in the use of the workforce – all the more so after the recent reforms implemented in several European countries in order to reduce purported rigidities. Second, standard employment and its regulation constitute the most effective device to deliver training and nurture long-term investment in firm-specific or transferable skills, which are key strategies for innovating and competing successfully.

After describing the processes of the vertical disintegration of the firm and “platformization” of labour relations and their impact on regulation, we rebut the allegation that the existing legal frameworks are unsuitable for dealing with changing business needs and unforeseen situations. The organizational function of employment, as a cornerstone of the flexibility of business, has not experienced any decline. As shown in the article, the foundational aspects of the employment relationship are adaptive enough to be relevant for a wide array of business models. The key element of the employment relationship is the worker’s personal subjection to the organizational, monitoring and disciplinary powers of the employer. More specifically, managerial power – whatever the means used to exercise it – and the duties of obedience, loyalty and co-operation are hallmarks of the employment relationship.

The over-reliance on work arrangements that are excluded from meaningful labour protection results in lower productivity growth because it erodes firm-specific skills and decouples managerial power from protective obligations. If at all, what we are experiencing in today’s labour markets is an expansion of managerial powers and prerogatives well beyond the traditional sphere of the employment relationship, without this being accompanied by the elements of social and labour protection of employees that are a usual legal counterweight to those powers. Therefore, while the organizational features of employment remain as a cornerstone of modern firms, as we argue in this article, adopting new legal frameworks to extend protection well beyond the traditional scope of the employment relationship could be opportune. This would align effective protection to the new reality much more successfully.

The winemaker’s decision to hire the sharecroppers as waged employees illustrates how, far from setting up and operating a light business, disruptive firms need to be functionally flexible in order to anticipate, lead and react to changes in economic circumstances and operational requirements. In addition, the inherent flexibility of standard contracts represents a powerful vehicle for integration and success. Viewed in this way, there is no inconsistency between labour regulation and innovative organizational patterns. Moreover, the evidence indicates that classifying workers as employees does not entail a loss of flexibility for employers and businesses. Therefore, at a time when both employers and workers crave more flexibility, autonomy and discretion, the goal should be a labour market where innovation is a synonym for flexible, yet regular, employment, high-quality jobs, sustainable conditions and enhanced dynamism.

Aloisi A. and De Stefano V. (2020), “Regulation and the future of work: The employment relationship as an innovation facilitator in International Labour Review, Vol. 159, No. 1, pp. 47-69.
The article is also available in Spanish and French.

* Antonio Aloisi is Assistant Professor of European and Comparative Labour Law at IE Law School, IE University, Madrid, @_aloisi
** Valerio De Stefano is BOFZAP Professor of Labour Law at KU Leuven, the University of Leuven, Belgium, @valeriodeste


Giuseppe MartinicoA short post about his recent research.
Constitutional insights from the Italian populist laboratory
(Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna,

How do populist leaders abuse constitutionalism? How do they manipulate categories of constitutional theory and instruments of constitutional law?

My latest book – co-edited with Giacomo Delledonne, Matteo Monti and Fabio Pacini – explores this topic, with reference to Italian populism. Italian populism is interesting to comparative lawyers for many reasons. First, the country has a long-lasting tradition of anti-parliamentarism over the course of its history. In the post-war constitutional setting, dissatisfaction with political parties and their perceived self-serving attitudes was widespread among scholars and in specific circles. After the end of World War II, populism characterised many of the new parties and movements that have come to the forefront of Italian politics. Second, after the 2018 general election, Italy turned into the first European country in which two self-styled populist forces (MoVimento 5 Stelle and Lega), with very different agendas and voting constituencies, formed a coalition government which then ended in September 2019. However, even after the end of this government experience, still in September 2019, MoVimento 5 Stelle formed a new coalition with the Partito Democratico without abandoning its populist character. Third, the Italian case is of the greatest interest because the country is a founding member of the European Union. Therefore, the constitutional implications of populist politics have to be considered not only within the national framework but also in the wider context.

While political scientists and sociologists have already explored Italian populism, constitutional lawyers have approached the topic by focusing on other jurisdictions, starting with the usual suspects, for instance Hungary in Europe. More often than not, constitutional studies have moved from such concepts as constitutional crisis, constitutional backsliding, and illiberal democracy.

This edited volume develops a comprehensive analysis of constitutional issues related to the rise of Italian populism. To do this, we structured the book in two parts. In the first part, we address the impact of populist claims on Italian institutions. The second part, in turn, focuses on the constitutional implications of the populist approach to the elaboration of policies. All the chapters consider both recent developments and their long-term antecedents. Throughout the book we argue that the relationship between populism and constitutionalism should not be seen in terms of mutual exclusion and perfect opposition. Indeed, it is possible to say that populism frequently relies on, borrows and manipulates, the concepts and categories belonging to the language of constitutionalism (majority, democracy, people), trying to reshape them and offering in this way a sort of constitutional counter-narrative. Both populism and constitutionalism are based on a profound sense of distrust of political power and refer – prima facie – to similar concepts, but analogies cannot be extended further. In constructing a constitutional narrative, populism borrows from the radical constitutional tradition, namely from the revolutionary (Jacobin) one.

In this book, we have taken into account two important elements that characterise populist movements and focused on them: the politics of immediacy” and “identity politics”, since they are crucial to distinguishing the kind of democracy proposed by populists from that preserved by post-WWII constitutionalism.Identity politics consists of presenting the majority as a monolithic entity vested with moral superiority, as opposed to the elite, which is frequently depicted as corrupt. Here we can see again the reductionist attitude of populism, which tends to depict all those who cannot be traced back to the majority as the “others”. This dichotomous approach and this need for the enemy has led Müller to stress the Schmittian flavour of populism. The politics of immediacy as defined by Corrias refers to a kind of politics that rejects the idea of mediation offered by the representative institutions.

This again confirms that populism aims to construct a constitutional counter-narrative by using concepts of constitutional theory and reveals the anti-pluralist understanding of democracy endorsed by populist movements.

On behalf of my co-editors, I would like to thank wholeheartedly all the authors who enthusiastically joined this project and contributed to making this book possible. In their diversity, the chapters of this book map the relationship between populism and the Italian constitutional order in all its complexity. Furthermore, they show that the Italian case is particularly relevant in a comparative perspective too. We hope that this book will enrich the discussion about how to deal with the populist challenge in contemporary constitutional democracies.


Features – COVID19 related


Antonio AloisiAntonio Aloisi & Valerio De Stefano, This is not a drill. People and work in times of the Covid19 emergency, Rivista Il Mulino, available at

‘Epidemics, like disasters, have a way of revealing underlying truths about the societies they impact’. Anne Applebaum, a journalist for The Atlantic who was in a desolate Bologna under lockdown at the beginning of March, used this revealing sentence in an op-ed praising the reaction of the Italian universal health system to the dramatic outbreak of Covid19. This is an incontrovertible truth: not only do moments of great stress allow us to rethink the habits of life and work, but they also urge us to reassess the sustainability of consolidated models. In addition, such unpredictable events end up having harmful consequences precisely because they risk turning unpreparedness, and even superficiality, into disaster, thus exacerbating fragilities along physical, social, economic and psychological lines. It goes without saying, this is not a drill and we would all have gladly done without the far-reaching challenges posed by the pandemic. Nevertheless, the adversities caused by the infectious disease and the consequent social distancing have already demonstrated the poor ability to predict risks and the inability to manage a calamity that ‘quarantines’ every routine.

Since the end of February, in a frenzied fashion, governments, health and local authorities have been facing an aggressive virus many elements of which are still not understood (but whose lethal nature is evident). While all populist rhetoric crumbled as a result of the nemesis of ‘closed borders’ for the majority of us, European countries have been confronted with a health crisis like few others before. There have been many errors, unfortunately: the reaction of many countries was conspicuous by its slowness and indulgent indifference to the rhythms of diffusion that the Italian case reported. All productive sectors, as well as public administration and education of all levels, are going through a phase of shock. As explained by the Ilo in an instant briefing note, ‘prospects for the economy and the quantity and quality of employment are deteriorating rapidly’. At the social level, the emergency has aggravated pre-existing polarizations (between places, generations, classes, sectors) with which we are called to deal now and in the near future. To cope with this unprecedented crisis, we would need to test and implement exceptional solutions. This should also prompt us to rethink traditional institutional approaches, by investing in a stronger social safety net thanks to colossal cash injections.

Our analysis dwells on work and, therefore, on people and businesses, which have suffered the repercussions of the spread of the virus (traffic bans, closure of schools and offices, reduction in public transport, distribution in tilt, half-service facilities). In particular, we will review recent developments, national reactions and business plans. However, it cannot be denied that the discomfort of these months has acted as a ‘magnifying glass’ of deeper issues that affect the changing world of work. All this would warrant attention even in ‘uninteresting’ moments, just to avoid the analysis being spoiled by an emergency logic. Once the phase of maximum alarm passes, it will be necessary to invest a lot time and money into healing the wounds. Redistribution and fairness will be essential. At the moment, EU and national institutions are mobilising significant means to reinforce our public health sectors and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the outbreak by adopting disruptive budgetary measures. Europeans have shown tenacity in equally serious circumstances, and we can expect that history will repeat itself.

In a global battle against the epidemic, workers, families and businesses have had to review many ordinary practices, relying on experimentalism and improvised solutions. Firms have struggled to accept that not everything could be maintained as business as usualMany companies were reluctant, on the one hand, to comply with the invitations to limit people’s movement and interaction of workers and, on the other hand, to understand the difficulties of those workers who, for example, found themselves with additional caring responsibilities at a time when all childcare and education services were suspended. They pretended not to understand that, in the face of the epidemic, business interests could not be put before those of collective health and safety. Nor did they understand that migrating to forms of remote work could not guarantee ordinary operations, both because working in a crowded apartment is not the same as having a ‘dedicated’ smart work station, and because the pace of life is in any case altered: just think of the long queues outside supermarkets and grocery stores. In some cases, strikes and demonstrations were necessary to send a clear message; and public authorities were often too shy to take more drastic measures.

We have therefore been faced with some of the contradictions of our era. In a globalised model, the most (inter)dependent sectors were the first to suffer the consequences of the current emergency. At the same time, even geographical areas that can be described as ‘hyper-connected’ have struggled with deviations from the standard. The issue of remote work has resurfaced overwhelmingly. However, flexible arrangements can only be implemented in certain industries, particularly in service-based sectors. Remote working is a privilege that not everyone can afford. This is due to the nature of the sectors, of course, but also to the content of the tasks, company culture, age characteristics of the workforce, infrastructural, organizational and business backwardness. Technology was depicted as a panacea that would allow us to overcome the crisis. Very soon, everyone had to realize that, in spite of the mainstream rhetoric, there are no digital solutions to organizational or even cultural problemsIt is perhaps useful to rewind the tape of these difficult weeks to analyse the effectiveness of the model of remote working, its limits, and also – with an optimistic perspective – the adjustments that should be adopted in the future in order not to waste the experience.

As in France, the Italian version of remote work (relabelled ‘agile’) received a strong regulatory boost in 2017. The law encourages this model ‘in order to increase competitiveness and facilitate the reconciliation of life and work time’. It is an option for both the private and public sectors, it can be implemented following a collective agreement and an individual written covenant. Although the legal framework leaves every spatial solution open (‘outside company premises with no fixed location’), the time limits are anchored to the maximum statutory daily and weekly working hours. The lawmakers aimed at increasing productivity, ensuring a virtuous balance between private and professional life and redistributing the savings (e.g. reduced office spaces, non-essential business travel and heavy commuting) by means of light forms of welfare. These flexible models are based on the assumption that modern work rejects rigid work patterns, does not sit at ease with vertical structures and pursues organizational autonomy, using technology in an emancipatory way. Very often, this assumption is merely an empty promise that was simply not kept.

Firms retain the managerial prerogatives of organising, monitoring and disciplining workers, within the limits imposed by law and collective agreements. Employers are supposed to ensure the occupational health and safety of the worker to provide information about the general and specific work-related risks. Employers are also responsible for the proper functioning of the technological devices made available to the worker. In Italy and Spain the emergency has streamlined a number of formal obligations. This has resulted in a simplified variant dictated by preventive and precautionary purposes. For instance, remote work can be arranged without a prior agreement. This move benefited companies that had previously designed alternative processes and, for example, equipped their employees with laptops with secure, collaborative software. On the other hand, those who suddenly had to coordinate teams of workers via chat, without a predefined plan, suffered greatly from the lack of training. To be effective and authentic, remote work requires a managerial quality leap that shifts the evaluation of work performance to outputs rather than to the mere physical attendance at work.

Therefore, this flexible format has shed its skin: from a temporary experiment to a solution imposed by events. Among other things, precautionary measures were skipped entirely, including those related to the protection of personal data, let alone the provision of adequate Osh plans and ergonomic equipment. In many Eu countries, the first guidelines issued by governments, in fact, indicated remote work as an ‘optional choice’, not as a mandatory solution whenever possible. Precious time was lost while many companies, especially small and medium enterprises, forced their employees to go to work even for non-essential services or for activities that could be executed remotely. It took days to realise that keeping businesses open was only acceptable when there was no alternative and just for services essential to deal with the epidemic. Many governments were extremely reluctant to impose truly effective lockdowns, beyond purely paying lip service to the emergency.

Moreover, remote work is just possible for a fraction of work activities. The emphasis placed on ‘remote formats’ risks obscuring the impact of the emergency on the many who cannot afford the luxury of working from home. In all Eu countries, the productive fabric is extremely heterogeneous and, even from a statistical point of view, white-collar workers in metropolitan areas represent an overexposed minority. Also, many ordinarily undervalued occupations have proved to be indispensable, thus becoming ‘public utilities’ in a time of tightness due to the Covid19: not only paramedical and pharmaceutical staff, but also cleaners expected to sanitize environments and means of transport, public employees providing essential services, domestic workers offering essential care, cashiers and contractors committed to keeping transport, logistics and distribution on track. Couriers in the so-called last-mile logistics experience on the ground the quandary of being exposed to the contagion when they have to reach customers whose state of health they ignore, and to be ‘instructed’ on how to strengthen prevention measures from platforms shedding their responsibilities away. Often, they also have to buy masks, gloves, gel and wipes at their own expense.

The contrast between ‘advanced’ sectors and low-paid jobs confirms that those who are weak from a contractual and economic point of view suffer the most severe consequences of the ongoing health crisis. Robust incentives in the form of fiscal or financial support are being designed to help businesses and families. At the same time, bogus and dependent self-employed workers as well as zero-hour and on-call workers are bearing most of the brunt of the crisis. They cannot suspend their activities if they want to make ends meet and are even more directly exposed to infection risks, thus becoming vectors of the virus, to the detriment of their families and colleagues. Precarious work makes our societies precarious, since it transfers the effects of distorted business models onto the individuals. Of course, there is nothing new about all this. Yet it is only because of the emergency that people have begun to realize how insecurity for individuals has huge social repercussions. Despite the implementation of ‘homeopathic’ measures such as ‘contactless deliveries’ or ‘partial financial assistance’ in case of sickness, vulnerable workers have to go to work even with a fever, because they would otherwise not even earn the already insulting pay they get.

Besides calls to follow recommendations strictly, the epidemic has thrown almost all aspects of our lives (work, study, leisure) in a precarious state of uncertainty. The naive deception that a medical crisis could have been faced by means of aperitifs, shopping in neighbourhood stores and romantic hashtags clashed with the reality of health systems that had been severely challenged and put under pressure. It has been hard to convince everyone to take the threat seriously. Besides, asking people to decide whether they favour their health or their livelihood was a false choice. As explained by the economist Alberto Bisin (Nyu), ‘people in fear do not work productively, they do not abide by laws, social norms, or any other mean of social coordination’. The imperfect management of the emergency risks leaving many traumas. A new social compact is needed to overcome the crisis. As Yuval Noah Harari pointed out, the decisions people and governments will take in the next few weeks ‘will probably shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture’ for years to come.

What can we learn from this dreadful misfortune? Are we working to shape the world of work beyond the pandemic? This unsought experiment encapsulates some serious warnings. Perhaps this unsolicited crisis will give companies the opportunity to start overcoming their ‘presenteeism’ logic, by using digital and human connections to loosen the over-subordination. Maybe, given the reluctance to use remote forms of work even in time of a global epidemic, a new regulation will be necessary to oblige companies to do it better by developing new organizational strategies. Perhaps universalistic and less impalpable protections will be advanced for those who are engaged in under-protected relationships (not only gig-workers, but the whole crowd of bogus self-employed workers, on-demand workers, own-account professionals, micro-entrepreneurs and those in non-standard forms of employment). Porous workplaces, smart working and the latest generation of tech tools must accompany this transition, but they cannot replace a necessary joint effort to put at the centre such fundamental values as widespread solidarity and collective social responsibility. Are we ready to go further on this route?


Jean BeamanA short online article written on COVID-19 in the Europe Now online journal:
Living on the margins in France: before and during COVID-19
This is part of a special series on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Le coronavirus, c’est l’État (The coronavirus is the state) read the headline of a recent article on life in France’s banlieues (suburbs) during COVID-19.[1]

Because of the high number of coronavirus cases, France took extreme measures in order to minimize its spread. On 17 March, the country went under lockdown, or l’état d’urgence sanitaire (state of health emergency).[2]  Residents needed an Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire (signed certificate) in order to travel more than five kilometers from their homes (if they are traveling for essential work or healthcare).

While everyone in France is subject to this decree, early evidence reveals it has been differentially applied. COVID-19 is not the equalizer or leveler some have suggested. Rather, this state of health emergency has disproportionately affected some populations compared to others, as some communities are more policed and surveilled than others. And these communities and populations are those that were already marginalized in France before COVID-19.

For example, on 19 March, a Black woman was stopped during an identity check, or un contrôle d’identité, after grocery shopping for her and her son in Aubervilliers, a banlieue north of Paris.[3]  During these checks, individuals are asked for their identification.[4]  However, during the stay-at-home order, these identification checks take on a different meaning – that being to ensure that people are protecting against the spread of the coronavirus. According to a video widely circulated on social media, when the woman was walking home from the store, police officers approached her and asked for her attestation. She only had the handwritten version, and not the printed version (which normally should have sufficed). She started to explain this to the officers, but they immediately start insulting her and calling her names, such as sale pute (dirty whore). Tensions quickly escalated and she was tasered by one of the many officers who surrounded her and her younger brother. She was later arrested and taken to a nearby police station, and held in a cell for about an hour before she was released.

And on 18 April, in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a banlieue in the Hauts-de-Seine département north of Paris, residents rebelled against the recent attack of a motorcyclist during an identity check.[5]  A man injured his leg after colliding with the door of a police car, which some residents felt was purposely opened by officers in order to harm him as he approached the car. In the days afterward, some residents burned cars and shot fireworks and police fired teargas at protestors. A recent Amnesty International report[6]  revealed how police violence, particularly during these identity checks, has not at all attenuated during the period of confinement. One French media account reports twelve deaths due to the police since France’s lockdown began.[7]

But incidents such as these are not new, and should be not surprising. As a sociologist and ethnographer of France for over a decade, I know that these incidents are part of the ongoing way certain populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, are relegated to the margins of mainstream society. My ethnographic research examines how this occurs and the racial logic that this marginality reveals. In order to understand how certain populations are marginalized during COVID-19, we must pay attention to how they have been marginalized before COVID-19.

In Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France, I demonstrate how the middle-class segment of this second-generation population is denied cultural citizenship to actually be accepted as French as others. And this applies not only to the middle-class segment, but all racial and ethnic minorities in France, particularly those descended from former French colonies. Cultural citizenship as a framework reveals how individuals can be included in society in a formal sense, yet denied inclusion more broadly. It signifies a claim to belonging that is accepted by others. I frame this population as ‘citizen outsiders,’ a term which political scientist Cathy Cohen (2010)[8]  uses both to characterize the precarious social locations of Black American youth, and to complicate the relationship between race, citizenship, and belonging. The middle-class North African second generation is both inside and outside of the citizenry – they have made it, so to speak, but only to a point, as they are continually reminded of how their citizenship and belonging are ‘suspect’ and often questioned by others. My interlocutors are technically French, yet are continually reminded of how they are not seen as French by others – for example, when they are asked, ‘Where are you really from?’ when they identify as French. And we cannot miss the racial and ethnic logic underpinning this. When Black and Maghrébin-origin individuals are asked where they are really from, the implication is that they cannot be French because they are not white. It is telling that this occurs in a society that has long denied the existence of racial and ethnic categories. French Republicanism disavows any identity-based categorization, and therefore France does not acknowledge or measure racial and ethnic categories. Yet, race is consequential outside of the existence of formal state categories.

Partly due to what anthropologist Ann Stoler refers to as its ‘colonial aphasia,’[9]  France has resisted reckoning with its colonial empire and its legacies. This erasure of the colonial leads to a ‘panic’ or ‘crisis’ of the postcolonial. France’s current anxieties about immigrants, the banlieues, multiculturalism, or Islam need to be properly situated in its colonial history, specifically in the Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia and the Caribbean (this explains, for example, how two French doctors can suggest during a televised interview to test potential vaccines for the coronavirus in Africa).[10]

So, racial and ethnic minorities are often read or understood as being outside of France, or outside of French society—and relegated to its margins. As Houria Bouteldja, a French activist of Algerian origin, who started the group and political party, Parti des Indigènes de la République, wrote in her recent book, Whites, Jews, and Us: Towards a Politics of Revolutionary Love:

It only takes one generation for an Italian, a Portuguese, or a Pole to become really French, while this dignity will always in effect be denied to the old, deported Africans who remain relegated to the Hexagon or the dusty corners of the Empire … as for the metropolis, it parked them on reservations with their children. Too Arab to be French. To indigenous to be white … between white people and us, there is race. It is constitutive of this republic. It will always rise between us (116).
Houria, and other descendants of migrants from former French colonies, face continually a France that denies them cultural citizenship, a France that that sets them apart. To give another example, consider Karim, a twenty-nine-year-old of Moroccan origin who lives in the banlieue of Poissy, who I met about a decade ago. He finds it frustrating how descendants of postcolonial migrants are not accepted as fully French. As he explained to me:

They don’t want me. They tell me to integrate. Me, I don’t want to integrate. I am French. I don’t need to integrate. I was born in France, I respect the laws of the Republic. . . . But they still tell us, ‘No, you’re not French. You’ll never be French.’ They tell us that because our parents have foreign origins, we automatically do too. . . . We’re sometimes obligated to hide our differences, as if we’re ashamed of them. But I’ve arrived at an age when I tell myself, ‘It’s my difference. I am not looking to put it out front, but I don’t want people to tell me to hide it.’

This is the dilemma that Karim and other ethnic minorities face: whatever they do, whatever they accomplish, they are not accepted as full citizens. It is never enough.

My ongoing research on anti-racism activism against state-sponsored violence further reveals this. Identity checks by the police, which anthropologist Paul Silverstein refers to as ‘citizenship surveillance,’ remind individuals of ‘their place.’ This is one of the myriad ways that a ‘suspect citizenship’ is created and reinforced – belonging that is tenuous and subject to removal at any point. Certain populations, such as Black and Maghrébin-origin individuals, in certain communities, such as Paris’s 20th arrondissement or the département of Seine-Saint-Denis, were surveilled more than others before the COVID-19 lockdown because they are understood as more of a threat to French society than other communities. And they are surveilled more now during COVID-19.

The incidents of police violence during the lockdown in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, Aubervilliers, or many others I could mention, remind me of the 2005 uprisings that swept banlieues throughout France. In that case, Zyed Bouna, a seventeen-year-old of Tunisian origin, and Bouna Traore, a fifteen-year-old of Malian origin, were electrocuted in a substation as they fled police in Clichy-sous-Bois, a Parisian banlieue, apparently trying to avoid un contrôle d’identité. Outrage about their deaths led to uprisings which lasted a few weeks, and another state of emergency (by then-President Jacques Chirac). And then Interior Minister (and later president) Nicolas Sarkozy called individuals involved in the uprisings racaille, or scum, and suggested cleaning the banlieues with a Kärcher (a brand of high pressure water hose). Over a decade later, the police officers involved in Zyed and Bouna’s deaths were cleared all over charges related to their deaths.

More recently, in July 2016, Adama Traoré, a twenty-four-year-old Black construction worker died under unusual circumstances after being arrested in the banlieue of Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. The police first claimed that he had died of a heart attack and then later said he had a severe infection. His family is asking for another autopsy, punishment for the police officers involved, and further investigation because they say he had no chronic health problems prior to his death. Assa Traore is his thirty-two-year-old sister, who is leading the movement for justice for Adama as well as other victims of police violence, or as she explained to me, ‘forgotten populations who know the police only as an invading force.’ Once, when I met with her as she was signing copies of her first book, Lettre à Adama, at the offices of Seuil, her publisher, she explained, ‘We don’t see people like Adama as a human, a son, a brother … even I’ve been controlled in these neighborhoods … What’s happening is France is having an identity crisis.’

And this ‘identity crisis’ is only heightened during COVID-19. Minority populations are responding to a violence that is not new, but rather an extension of the violence of French colonialism. The quarantine period reveals how some individuals, even those who are citizens, are forever seen as suspicious. This is another way of thinking about how racial marginality is produced on micro, meso, and macro levels of society. Individuals like Zyed or Bouna or Adama Traore are produced as suspect citizens. Full belonging is never granted.

Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe’s framework of necropolitics[11]  refers to how the state exercises power over defining which populations are disposable, or ‘who may live and who must die.’ Necropolitics is instructive in France as it relates to COVID-19, as it reveals how already marginalized populations are further marginalized during the state of health emergency. COVID-19 only exacerbates and solidifies boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in French society. As French Republicanism continues to mark, rather than erase, racial and ethnic distinctions, France creates more of a “bright boundary” (Alba 2005)[12]  between full citizens and suspect citizens. Considering all of this, it is not surprising that some feel that the actual Coronavirus is the state.

Jean Beaman is Assistant Professor of Sociology (with affiliations with Political Science and the Center for Black Studies Research) at University of California, Santa Barbara, and Executive Committee member of the Council of European Studies. She was previously on the faculty at Purdue University and has held visiting fellowships at Duke University and the European University Institute (Florence, Italy). Her research is ethnographic in nature and focuses on race/ethnicity, racism, international migration, and state-sponsored violence in both France and the United States. She is author of Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France (University of California Press, 2017).  


[2] France started a gradual déconfinement (end of the lockdown) on May 11th.  (
[4] See more on les contrôles d’identité, Fabien Jobard et al. 2012. “Measuring Appearance-Based Discrimination: an Analysis of Identity Checks in Paris.” Population 67(3): 349-375.
[8] Cohen, Cathy. 2010. Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.
[9] Stoler, Ann Laura. 2011. “Colonial Aphasia: Race and Disabled Histories in France.” Public Culture 23(1):121-156.
[11] Mbembe, Achille. 2019. Necropolitics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
[12] Alba, Richard. 2005. “Bright vs. blurred boundaries: Second-generation assimilation and exclusion in France, Germany, and the United States.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 28(1): 20-49.


Gregorio BettizaThe pandemic and the end of the liberal world order as we knew it, Aspenia

The global politics of the current Covid-19 pandemic intersect in complex ways with the liberal world order: its making, ongoing crisis, and potential unmaking. What the characteristics of this order are, and whether we have ever come to inhabit one to begin with, are hotly debated issues in international relations. Rather than using a clear-cut definition, I tend to think about the liberal order as coming together around four interlocking features which constitute our contemporary, post-Cold War, globalized international system.

First, this order is characterized by a progressive growth of international institutions, regimes and rules designed to collectively manage, regulate, and govern multiple aspects of world affairs from security, to economics, to cultural heritage, and the environment. Second, the liberal order is marked by the spread of capitalist modes of production and accelerating processes of economic globalization. These are mostly organized around neo-liberal logics which require a scaling back of the state and thrive on the (relatively) free movement of resources, goods, finance, and people worldwide. Third, this order facilitates and legitimizes the global diffusion of liberal values and institutions, including democratic regimes and universal human rights norms, while simultaneously delegitimizing and stigmatizing non-liberal worldviews and identities. Fourth, and finally, driving many of these processes and structures, are ideas, practices, and interests generally – although not exclusively – stemming from powerful Western actors.

The paradox of the coronavirus pandemic is that it very much thrives on the back of the forces that structure this world order. International mobility and economic interdependence have contributed to the rapid spread of the virus outside Chinese borders. It is not an accident that some of the most open, rich, and globally connected regions and cities – whether it is Lombardy in Italy, London in the UK or New York in the US – have been hit the hardest, quickly becoming coronavirus hotspots. The rolling back of social securities and healthcare systems in a neo-liberal age of austerity, privatization, and casualization have considerably undermined the capacity of societies and states to respond promptly and adequately. Continued poverty and huge disparities in much of the Global South, are leaving the developing world particularly vulnerable and unprepared as the pandemic moves in their direction.

Yet Covid-19’s diffusion and international responses – which unsurprisingly include important curbs on globalization and a reassertion of the state – simultaneously intensify the current crisis of the liberal world order. This is especially the case as the dynamics unleashed by the pandemic interact with and accentuate forces that have already been destabilizing this order over recent decades: financial and economic crisis; ongoing power shifts, most notably from the West to the East; and the rise of populist, nationalist, and authoritarian politics across regions.

Global cooperation has suffered, even broken down in many instances. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise, all while countries compete for medical supplies, machineries and patents to protect their citizens at the expense of others. Borders have quickly hardened and closed, even in the supposedly borderless Schengen Area. The European Union and its Central Bank have appeared slow, divided, and out of step with the challenges the situation is posing them. The festering cleavage between Northern and Southern European countries has rapidly reopened and widened, most notably in the context of the ongoing Eurobond debate. US and Chinese global rivalry, which had taken a turn for the worse since the election of Donald Trump, has intensified even further.

Curbing the virus has required that significant parts of the global economy come to a standstill. Signs of an impending recession, if not even depression, are notable as businesses around the world are going bankrupt, supply chains are being disrupted, unemployment is drastically soaring, stock markets are tanking, and public deficits are ballooning as states step in to forestall a complete economic and social meltdown. Meanwhile, the internetization of our lives and economies is dramatically accelerating. Under conditions of lockdown, online giants like Google, Facebook and especially Amazon are becoming even more powerful. Lesser known platforms like Zoom and Houseparty are finding their way into our lives (and data).

Liberal values and institutions are coming under considerable stress. Democracies, principally Western ones, have appeared incompetent and in disarray as they have struggled to keep Covid-19 at bay. As of mid-April, according to official statistics (if these are to be trusted), the US and major European states including Italy, France, the UK, Germany and Spain have all surpassed China in either the number of cases or deaths (or both). As economic crisis breeds populism, the world may likely see further democratic backsliding.  Hungary, where the parliament has allowed Prime Minister Victor Orbán to rule by decree circumventing democratic institutions and practices, may be a warning sign of things to come.

Simultaneously autocracies have seized the (propaganda) moment. Despite bearing important responsibilities, China is effectively presenting itself as part of the solution rather than the problem to the global pandemic. Autocracies have appeared to many as more efficient systems, but also more solidary ones. In Italy, for instance, China, Russia and Cuba have all sent aid and are winning over hearts and minds. Merkel’s Germany and Trump’s America are generally framed instead as unreliable, if not downright hostile, partners. Civil liberties are being threatened as authoritarian states, but increasingly democratic ones too, expand their surveillance capabilities. Covid-19 is also proving to be a further boon for surveillance capitalism, with companies like Google/Alphabet collecting new forms of personal data through online coronavirus screening tools.

It may not be all doom and gloom. Another future is possible. As the coronavirus exposes the contradictions and accelerates the crisis of the liberal world order, opportunities for radically changing course or more tailored, but nonetheless desperately needed, reforms may open up. These may include a newfound appreciation, rather than persistent delegitimation, of the state as the provider of public goods and social safety nets. We may see greater investments in healthcare systems, research, and education, accompanied by a revived trust in science and expertise. Citizens and consumers may become increasingly conscious of and resistant to the ever more intrusive forms of surveillance modern technologies facilitate. Decreasing emissions and pollution brought about by a world in lockdown, are likely to provide powerful new data and narratives supporting the fight against climate change. A renewed sense of interdependence and solidarity, that we are all part of a common humanity, could enable greater and fairer forms of global cooperation. A more pluralist international system may be in the making with multiple regions of the world actively contributing to global knowledge and norms.

2020 is destined to become an important benchmark date in the unfolding crisis of the liberal world order. There are two possible horizons. The first is a more pessimistic one of rising divisions, authoritarianism, and surveillance, born from an analysis of how the current pandemic and its responses intersect and potentially reinforce a series of ongoing, worrying, global political developments. This assessment, however, should be interpreted more as a warning than a prediction of an ineluctable fate. History is not deterministic.

Thus, the alternative scenario points to the fact that societies have recurrently had the capacity in the aftermath of critical junctures to create a better world for themselves. Which scenario will materialize in the coming decade remains uncertain. What is likely is that today’s global pandemic will bring to an end – for better or worse – the liberal world order as we knew it.


Léon Castellanos-Jankiewicz

COVID-19 Symposium: US border closure breaches international refugee law
3 April 2020

As nearly half the world goes under lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, migrants have been especially helpless in the face of governmental measures restricting the movement of persons. Recent reports have documented the plight of seasonal workers stranded in India, as well as the precariousness of migrant camps in GreeceItaly and Bangladesh. The border between Mexico and the United States constitutes another flashpoint where conditions are rapidly deteriorating. On 20 March, the Mexican and American governments partially closed their land boundary, barring all non-essential travel until 20 April. The challenges of implementing these tightened controls to protect public health are staggering: documented crossings amount to over 990 million annually, making this the busiest international boundary worldwide.

However, the pandemic is also being invoked by the Trump administration to roll out unprecedented measures aimed at deporting migrants and asylum seekers. These new provisions place migrants at severe risk of kidnapping, torture, rape, and, ultimately, death. Their adoption and ongoing implementation therefore bring the United States in breach of international refugee law, particularly as regards the obligation of non-refoulement. To be clear, the US government is duty-bound to avoid further contagion through immigration and other controls, but procedures must be applied in a proportionate and non-discriminatory manner. Absent any proof that migrants constitute an important source of contagion, these new restrictions can hardly pass muster as being proportionate, legitimate or necessary, given that they seem disconnected from immediate public health concerns. Instead, the new rules aggressively target migrants and their application represents a credible threat to the personal integrity of refugees and asylum seekers.

The Unprecedented Measures Breach Non-Refoulement Obligations
The far-reaching authorization issued by the US Department of Homeland Security requires officials to immediately remove undocumented migrants regardless of their provenance and, most problematically, to return all asylum seekers without distinction to their country of origin or point of entry without being processed. According to The Washington Post, the US government is now expelling all border-crossers to Mexico in 96 minutes on average. This contravenes the non-refoulement obligations contained in Article 33 of the Refugee Convention of 1951 that binds the United States through its accession to the 1967 Protocol and customary international law. Pursuant to the guarantee of non-refoulement, individuals cannot be returned to their country of nationality if they have a well-founded fear that their life, bodily integrity or fundamental rights would be threatened there.

The border’s closure further breaches US obligations relating to the determination of refugee status in accordance with Article 9 of the Refugee Convention, which is outlined in a dedicated Handbook issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. According to that document, authorities must have a clearly established procedure for examining and processing refugee applicants, who must be allowed to remain in the country while their refugee status is being determined. The right to remain must also be guaranteed when an appeal to said determination is pending. Moreover, refugees may not be penalized by unlawful arrival, as recognized in Article 31 of the Convention.

President Trump’s new restrictions have also diverted the public’s attention from other, more drastic, rules adopted by his administration against migrants and refugees beyond the border area. On the day of the partial closure, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspended the introduction of persons from designated countries, including Mexico, in the interest of public health for one year with the possibility of indefinite extension. This comes on the heels of the cancellation of all deportation hearings in US immigration courts from 18 March for health and safety reasons.

Taken together, these measures could effectively bring the entire US asylum system to a grinding halt, thus placing migrants and refugees at severe risk. Their lack of any sunset provisions also brings the US in breach of the aforementioned obligations contained in the Refugee Convention. The immediate return policy is also disproportionate to the objective sought, considering that the US government has failed to demonstrate that migrants constitute a focal point of contagion as outlined below. Therefore, the obligation to avoid the credible threat to loss of life that expelled refugees and asylum seekers are subject to greatly outweighs the application of these new measures.

The Emergency Response Cloaks Discriminatory Action against Migrants
The stated aim of this unparalleled operation is to contain the coronavirus pandemic, but the methods used hardly withstand scrutiny when measured against the ostensible health risk posed by migrants. For one, the US government has not provided conclusive evidence that migrants have been significantly exposed to the virus. Indeed, on the day in which the closure came into effect, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 164 confirmed cases of contagion in Mexico, whereas the US had 15,219 infected patients. Furthermore, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize, countries from which many migrants originate, had 36 cases in total. Although the lack of testing capabilities in Latin America might skew these statistics, travelers may not be turned away on this ground alone and their fundamental rights should be respected, according to the WHO’s International Health Regulations. It would seem, then, that discriminatory action against migrants is being cloaked as a public health emergency response.

Quite tellingly, in his address of 20 March announcing the border’s partial closure, President Trump cited the need to ‘reduce the incentive for a mass global migration’, and gestured in no ambiguous terms to the stringent immigration policies that have been a hallmark of his presidency. Surely, viral containment must be ensured across complex borders that are also economically vital. But this does not justify the systematic forced return of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, especially when their exposure to the virus has not been conclusively established. Moreover, the procedures largely disregard the health and safety of migrant populations and, if anything, have worsened their conditions.

To justify the severity of these restrictions, Trump also invoked the National Emergency Proclamation that he issued on 13 March. However, such emergency declarations are subject to ‘strict scrutiny’ review by the US judiciary when they involve restrictions to fundamental rights. According to one expert, this review requires that the measures adopted be narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling interest sought. Crucially, the action taken should be the least restrictive means available to achieve the public health goal and must be evidence-based. In contrast, Trump’s clampdown-like policies are disproportionate and fail to demonstrate compelling interest, notably because of the lack of conclusive proof that migrants represent such an imminent public health risk that would justify their automatic expulsion. It is therefore highly doubtful that the US administration’s border restrictions meet the requirements of strict scrutiny review.

Further indication that the specific restrictions for migrants are unconnected to public health can be found in the so-called Migration Protection Protocols, also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which the recent measures further strengthen. Pursuant to this program, the US has already been outsourcing the custody of migrants to Mexico since January 2019. The practice is highly controversial, given the credible threat posed by drug cartels and other criminal organizations at the border. Even then, the 60,000 aliens currently subject to these proceedings have access to free counsel and are able to enter the US to attend their immigration court hearings. The new policies would render this system all but inoperative, thus depriving claimants from the opportunity to present their case before competent immigration judges. Needless to say, Mexico’s aid or assistance to the US in executing these restrictive procedures could also give rise to its responsibility for breaches of international standards of refugee protection.

Concluding Remarks
The efforts to contain COVID-19 are placing a formidable strain on solidarity mechanisms established by international law, and risk placing vulnerable groups in evermore precarious situations. As borders continue to harden, governments should bear in mind that restrictions to freedom of movement and liberty will only be justified if they are proportionate, time-bound, strictly necessary and applied in a non-discriminatory manner. In particular, they should not unduly affect human rights or the right to seek asylum.

[León Castellanos-Jankiewicz is Researcher in International Law at the Asser Institute for International and European Law in The Hague and Academic Coordinator of the Netherlands Network for Human Rights Research.]


Ayça Çubukçu

The challenge of internationalism: How can we begin to think about what international solidarity requires in the context of the coronavirus pandemic when all around the world, people are advised to practice ‘social distancing’ from each other and encouraged to perceive in strangers and loved ones alike potential sources of disease and ruin? When energy, resources, and care are primarily devoted, albeit differentially, to the health of the national body politic — understood as a limited ‘population’ with discernible borders to be defended? In this context, can the question of international solidarity even begin to resonate? One thing is clear: Although this pandemic has exposed the interconnected vulnerability of ‘humanity’ as a species, the predominant response, governmental and otherwise, has been the attempt to practice care and solidarity nationally. From the perspective of internationalism, another response to this situation could be to underscore how, to the extent that viruses affect the human body – moving from one to the other without respect to nationality – efforts to ensure national immunities are in vain. There can be no American, Turkish, British, or Indian immunity to this virus or the next one, as the claim to quarantine, vaccinate, or forever ban transnational encounters is belied by human and non-human travel alike. In this sense, the health of any human body and the environment in which that body lives are concerns of everyone, such that the lack of decent public health care in one place jeopardizes the well-being of the entire species. However, ‘humanity’ is not equally exposed to the social, economic, and political risks pandemics create and exasperate – bodies are cared for or abandoned to die differentially in gendered and racialized ways across class lines. This is one reason why in imagining what international solidarity requires in practice today, we may need to act not only against the grain of the nation, but also think against humanity as a concept that erases from view crucial political divides and unbearable inequalities within and among species. 


Sebastian Diessner

Economic policies for the aftermath of COVID-19
George Papaconstantinou and Sebastian Diessner
25 May, 2020

In the panel on economic policies in the aftermath of COVID-19 at the 2020 The State of the Union Conference, the Institute brought together Laurence Boone, chief economist of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former President of the Eurogroup; Ricardo Reis, A.W. Phillips Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and EUI Professor George Papconstantinou to discuss the main issues in this regard.

The session launched with  a high-level opening address by European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde who identified the COVID-19 crisis as ‘our generation’s Schuman moment’ and called for bold collective action by governments and the EU. Lagarde was followed by a high-level discussion led by FT editor Roula Khalaf with EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, who stressed the need for a ‘macroeconomically significant recovery fund’.

The panel essentially addressed three main questions.

What type of economic recovery can we expect?
Without doubt, the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic will be large; what is more, the outlook is conditioned by the health risks and the advances towards a vaccine. In this environment, rather than projections we should be talking about economic scenarios.

In light of such significant uncertainties, the potential shape of the recovery may not be a choice between a ‘V’ shape indicating a strong rebound, an ‘L’ shape indicating prolonged stagnation, a ‘U’ shape suggesting a bit of both, or a ‘W’ shape reflecting the second wave of infections. We could instead have a three-pronged, ‘ABC’ process: (A) a very sharp fall in economic output, followed by (B) a sharp but limited initial recovery, powered by those who are able to go back to work and spend; and (C) a protracted and slow recovery to pre-crisis levels of economic activity, marked by lasting scars from the recession. Some capacity will have been lost; there will be need for some reallocation of resources across sectors, we are likely to see an increase in precautionary savings, and certainly a debt overhang as a symmetric shock has materialised in an asymmetric way in terms of countries and sectors.

Preventing a financial crisis will be paramount to a faster recovery, in a situation where compared to the sovereign debt crisis, the speed of impact and the disruption have been faster and deeper, the effects in society larger but also where the policy response has been more aggressive.

What should economic policy responses at the national level look like?
All EU member states have attempted to mitigate the impact of the pandemic through unprecedented fiscal measures, including additional public investment, direct transfers, guarantees, tax deferrals and rebates. But has the policy response at national level been appropriate in terms of the size and mix of the measures adopted?

On the whole, national governments have reacted boldly, decisively and with the right measures, but both policy design and fiscal capacity differs significantly, resulting in higher but also highly varied debt levels post-crisis. Addressing sizeable debt overhangs will involve structural reforms and debt reduction policies, though we should avoid a repeat of the mistakes of excessive austerity as in the sovereign debt crisis. Indebtedness however is not only a problem with sovereigns; hence the importance of pushing forward the capital markets union which will be helpful to finance corporates and the economy, as well as reforming bankruptcy procedures which will help governments deal with firms that face solvency and not just liquidity problems.

In general, after a first phase of broad-based support including extensive help to keep people in jobs, we now need to move to more targeted support, facilitating also reallocation in the labour force so that workers can move jobs where necessary, but in the process avoiding further increase in inequality. In this second phase, the operation of the internal market will be key: following the relaxation of its rules in the first phase, the existing asymmetry in the system needs to be tackled so as to maintain its integrity when supporting corporates, in a manner analogous to common EU rules for bank bailouts by governments in the sovereign debt crisis.

What about the E(M)U-level economic policy response?
At the European level, the bulk of the common response has come from the ECB, where we have witnessed rapid and determined policy action, involving an envelope of around €1 trillion in asset purchases. Such monetary policy operations are appropriate to maintain financial stability and commensurate in terms of magnitude and ambition to that of central banks in other parts of the world. They are also proportional and within the ECB’s mandate of inflation targeting as set out in the European Treaties.

The challenge to the ECB by the German Constitutional Court is economically misplaced, can be market-disrupting, while also putting into question the primacy of EU law. We have also witnessed a relaxation of fiscal rules, several fiscal initiatives based on the ESM, the EIB, and an unemployment re-insurance scheme to be set up under the roof of the European Commission (SURE). Nevertheless, a more sizeable and coordinated fiscal response is called for as some kind of a ‘safe asset’ is required to defend the integrity of the euro and support its role in international markets, while helping countries avoid excessive indebtedness by involving more grants than loans.

The EU should issue joint debt to finance joint spending including on European public goods to assist the recovery from the pandemic but also the green and digital transition of the EU, to be repaid by means of new joint own fiscal resources in the context of a broader MFF, with the arrangement remaining under EU governance and joint democratic control. Whether it will be able to do so will depend on combining solidarity with responsibility and enlightened self-interest against a political debate that continues to be dominated by significant distrust in many countries.

Dr. Sebastian Diessner is a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute.

Professor George Papaconstantinou is a faculty member of the EUI’s School of Transnational Governance.

Video recordings of this session and others are available on The State of the Union 2020 website.


Sebastian Diessner

Now it is the turn of leaders to do ‘whatever it takes’ to save Europe
Sebastian Diessner, Erik Jones and Corrado Macchiarelli 
April 2020

Everyone is waiting for the ‘whatever it takes’ moment that is going to ward off Europe’s impending fiscal and financial crisis. At the same time, European heads of state or government are determined that whatever it takes should happen within limits. The time has come for them to realise that they cannot have it both ways. Either they are going to accept the responsibility for doing whatever it takes to forestall the crisis, or they are going to have to admit that other actors – most notably the European Central Bank – will have to set aside their remaining limits. Moreover, it has always been this way. The difference now is that whatever buffers might have made it possible in the past to tolerate the contradictions between ‘whatever it takes’ and ‘within limits’ have been exhausted.

Consider Mario Draghi’s famous commitment to preserve the euro, a bold pledge to purchase sovereign bonds in virtually unlimited quantities in order to stave off the fragmentation of the euro area. The pledge itself arguably saved the common currency back in 2012. However, it was never truly unlimited. The guardians of European monetary orthodoxy fought tooth and nail to prove that the ECB’s actions were breaching the limits of its mandate. But even if that were not the case, it remained unclear how much sovereign debt with a residual maturity of less than three years the ECB could actually have bought from a country like Italy. It was also unclear what kind of conditionality Italy would have had to accept to qualify for assistance in the first place. What is clear then is that there are limits – in terms of maturity, exposure levels, volumes, and qualifications – which would have to be breached for the policy to be activated.

The same is true for the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme today, despite President Lagarde’s proclamation that there are ‘no limits’ to the central bank’s resolve to see the euro area through this crisis, a pledge that proved controversial even within the ECB’s own decision-making body. While the ECB said the usual 33 per cent country-ceiling would not apply to its emergency programme, the Governing Council established that the programme would run until the end of this calendar year and entail up to €750 billion in new acquisitions. Given the burn rate over the past four weeks, however, it is doubtful that the sum will last that long.

Since the programme started, on 26 March 2020, the ECB has already settled €70.7 billion – and that only covers purchases that have been settled, meaning purchases initiated after 17 April are not covered yet. Assuming the same pace will continue, the programme may just make it to the end of the year. Given what happened in government bond markets last week, however, one can only imagine that the pace has increased. Of course, the Governing Council already signalled that it can add more to the volume and the calendar. That will require another decision and presumably a fresh set of limits. Just like the current ones, these will likely be tested by the markets sooner rather than later.

An area where the ECB appears to acknowledge that limits can hardly be imposed is the reinvestment of the principal of those assets from previous purchase programmes that mature on its balance sheet. For months now, the official policy has been that this reinvestment will take place as long as is necessary to restore expectations of inflation to a level that is consistent with the ECB’s definition of price stability. That essentially amounts to an unlimited commitment to an expanded ECB balance sheet, somewhat akin to monetary finance. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, we have seen tensions here in the past and we should expect to see tensions again in the future. If the German government returns to a policy of fiscal consolidation soon after the crisis while other countries maintain a much higher level of indebtedness, for example, it will be very hard for the ECB to maintain an extended balance sheet without running afoul of its own standard for proportionality, the so-called capital key. Eventually, then, the ECB’s Governing Council will have to choose to ignore its own limits in order to achieve its core mandate. A good reason for Europe’s heads of state or government to think creatively is so that the ECB can continue to colour within the lines. Otherwise, Europe’s heads of state or government can expect the central bank to be forced to cast aside even the most sacrosanct of its limits, including the prohibition of monetary finance.

But the European Council has its own contradictions between commitments and limits to reconcile. The North wants to offer solidarity without redistribution; the South demands redistribution without obligation. It is no more useful trying to identify which side of the conflict is morally superior than it is to recognise which group of political leaders is in the more impossible position with respect to their own domestic politics. The point is simply that these limits are inconsistent with the commitment to the future of the European project. Unlike the ECB’s Governing Council, however, the European Council is a political authority that is empowered to exercise discretion over how Europe is organised. It now faces a choice between the Europe that the founders imagined and constituted, and the limits written into and implied in that constitutional arrangement. This is a foundational moment. The EU’s leaders can either unbind Europe or risk its demise. Whatever it takes must not be limited this time, or – paraphrasing Draghi’s famous speech – it is unlikely to be enough.


Alexander KriwoluzkyEconomic policy and financial market expectations during COVID-19
Stephanie Ettmeier, Chi Hyun Kim, Alexander Kriwoluzky 
9 April 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe is severe and spreads economic uncertainty. This column explores the evolution of financial market participants’ expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic, estimating yield curves of bonds in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The authors carry out an event study to investigate the potential impact of European fiscal and monetary policy measures on these yields. The results suggest that policy measures must be large and coordinated on the European level, and that fiscal and monetary policy must act jointly to fight the pandemic’s negative economic consequences.

One thing is for certain: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe is severe and spreads economic uncertainty. Policymakers and economists alike have understood the threat to the economic system and have worked collaboratively on appropriate strategies and policy measures to counteract the downturn. Many opinion pieces and policy recommendations have emerged to support the decision-making process of policymakers. These works span (among others) the field of monetary policy (Lane 2020), fiscal policy (Bénassy-Quéré et al. 2020), as well as their coordination (Barewell et al. 2020).

Our study continues along these lines and aims to contribute on the empirical side of the economic policy debate. A prerequisite for a successful and elaborate economic policy reaction is, and remains, a solid data basis. Our analysis helps support an understanding of what is currently going on in the economy by focusing on financial market participants’ expectations of the pandemic’s economic consequences. As the effectiveness of economic policies hinges crucially on expectations, our exercise is a necessary first step in the evaluation of policy measures.

To identify financial market participants’ expectations, we follow the method of McCulloch (1971, 1975), which was recently applied by Bayer et al. (2019), and estimate (non-parametrically) yield curves for a large sample of non-financial corporate bonds. We use data for bonds of different maturities found in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, between 1 January 2020 and 27 March 2020. This approach allows us to create a differentiated perspective on the topic. First, we can illustrate how financial market participants’ expectations towards the pandemic differ in the short- and long-run. Second, we can carry out an event study and relate the evolution of the yield curves during the pandemic to the most important monetary and fiscal policy measures implemented at the European and national level so far.

It is clear by now that COVID-19 is going to have long-lasting negative consequences on the economy. Policymakers must apply their measures optimally to counteract the downturn. They must ensure that their decisions are well-informed and based on thoroughly conducted empirical evaluations. The results of our study can provide useful clarity, putting the quickly prepared monetary and fiscal policy measures (taken in Europe between February and March 2020) in context, helping to draw lessons for the decisions to come. In light of our findings, we propose that (i) the policy interventions undertaken so far seem to be going in the right direction, but do not yet suffice, and (ii) that this is especially true of the fiscal policy measures, which have to be larger in size. Finally, (iii) monetary and fiscal policy responses have to be coordinated on the European level, in order to be effective.

Financial market participants expect long-lasting negative economic consequences of COVID-19
As shown in Figure 1, non-financial corporations in each of four studied countries experienced a sudden and extreme increase in financial risk from the beginning of March 2020. This is particularly clear on 9 March 2020 (shown by the black vertical line in Figure 1), which coincides with the global stock market crash, the start of the lockdown in Italy (caused by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe), and accelerating yield increases. The impact is most noticeable in Italy, where the five-year yields almost tripled over the following days. Moreover, the pandemic seems to influence all maturities, especially in the long run. Since mid-March, the five-year maturities in all of the listed countries increased drastically, meaning that the pandemic’s negative economic consequences are currently still expected to be long lasting.

Figure 1 Yield curves of euro-area non-financial corporations with stock market crash and Italian lockdown on 9 March 2020 (black vertical line)

Fiscal and monetary interventions as stabiliser of expectations
To put the financial market participants’ expectations in context with the major fiscal and monetary policy interventions in the euro area taken so far, we conduct an event study. Because the yield curves with longer maturities experienced an especially drastic increase since the arrival of COVID-19 in Europe, the following exercise focuses exclu­sively on the five-year yield curves.

In terms of monetary policy, we look at the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), which was announced late in the evening of 18 March 2020. In terms of fiscal policy, we include the major rescue package for each country. France (€45 billion) and Spain (€200 billion) announced their rescue packages on 17 March, with Germany announcing its ‘bazooka’ (€550 billion) on 13 March, and Italy (€25 billion) having gone public on 10 March.

Figure 2 summarises the fiscal policy interventions. In general, fiscal policy interventions do not seem to coincide with a change in the five-year yields. Germany represents an exception, where the introduction of the ‘bazooka’ coincides with a temporary stabilisation of financial market participants’ expectations of the pandemic’s negative economic consequences. Interestingly, the German rescue package seems to temporarily stabilise the yields of France, Italy, and Spain as well.

Figure 3 stresses the development of the five-year yields with regard to the PEPP. Interestingly, the monetary policy intervention coincides with a drop in financial risk of comparable size in all four countries. 

Figure 2 Fiscal policy interventions in the euro area, five-year maturity

Figure 3 PEPP intervention by the ECB, five-year maturity

No halfway solutions – especially on the fiscal side
Since March 2020, financial market participants have expected the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic to be severe and long-lasting. While the ECB’s policy measures have helped to stabilise financial market participants’ expectations, the fiscal policy measures taken so far on a national level still seem too timid. Only the announcement of the €550 billion rescue package in Germany coincides with a stabilisation of market expectations. A full causal evaluation of the economic policy measures taken as a response to COVID-19 so far is still needed. However, we can conclude from this event study that an adequate fiscal policy response must be well coordinated, with all European countries on board.

Bayer, C, C Kim, and A Kriwoluzky (2019), “The term structure of redenomination risk”.
McCulloch, J H (1971), “Measuring the term structure of interest rates”, The Journal of Business 44 (1): 19-31.
McCulloch, J H (1975), “The tax-adjusted yield curve”, The Journal of Finance 30 (3): 811-830


Eniola Anuoluwapo SoyemiIt is not surprising that the national centres for disease control in countries like Nigeria have, so far, handled competently the spread of the corona virus pandemic in their countries. It would be surprising if they had not, given the depth of their experience with containing the spread of diseases such as Lassa Fever and Ebola. As a result of its experience with dengue fever, for example, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal and leading virologist, Amadou Sall, are developing the first $1, 10-minute, coronavirus test.

What has been intriguing to witness, and is in need of further explanation, however, is why many citizens in African countries have obeyed what are sometimes very tough lockdown measures that at least on the surface seem to make much less sense in the African context than they do in a European one. In South Africa, for instance, the lockdown has been one of the most stringent in the world and has included a ban on cigarette and alcohol sales.

The puzzle of African obedience
Demographically, Sub-Saharan Africa does not suffer the problem of an aging population. Quite the contrary, only 6.09% are over 65 years old. As such, a number of commentators have wondered whether it has made sense to plunge a region of largely young people and children into economic disaster and suffering to the benefit of a very small elderly population. Even when we factor in the fact that COVID-19 not only targets the frail and elderly, and that in countries like the United States, a number of seemingly healthy young adults and children have died, it has been unclear whether the economic harm caused by lockdown and social distancing measures will not be more harmful in a particular African economic and social context than the risks of the virus itself.

The informal economy, which requires many people to work constantly for their daily wages but in less regimented fashion than those with formal jobs, and in very close proximity to others, accounts for up to 80% of employment in Ghana, for example. These are people that cannot work on ‘Zoom’. Whether in demographic terms, or in basic and crucial livelihood terms, the question remains what has led many people to obey government measures that do not seem to be at all in the individual interest of most.

To be sure, a number of countries including Togo, Lesotho, Botswana, Mali, and Namibia, have instituted comprehensive stimulus packages to help affected sectors including informal sector workers, but when we consider that in many countries throughout the region trust in government integrity and capacity remains very low, then the question of why lock down measures have been largely accepted becomes even more puzzling.

Binding ‘the people’
One answer may lie in how we understand the notion of the social contract. One of the many negative ramifications of the historical processes that brought most modern African states and their governments into existence is that the bond of rights and duties between national governments and their citizens, and even between the nation state itself and those who live in it, continues to be tenuous and weak, at best. Yet, the bonds between citizens, which significantly predate modern statehood, remain strongly consequential.

In other words, the vertical, Lockean, or, more extremely, Hobbesian interpretation of the social contract holds little water in many African countries. What deep crises such as the current pandemic may highlight, however, is that something else does exist in these countries that is not only able to counteract the effect of low levels of both public confidence in government and of governments own low administrative capacities, and that is the more significant existence of a relationship in which rights and obligations exist horizontally, bonding the ordinary population not to their governments, but to one another.

Such dynamics ought to be equally important even in non-African contexts where a particular history of state formation has both influenced and been influenced by thinking that sees the main contracting relationship as being between a government or state and its people. Crises of such proportions as the coronavirus pandemic do not require us to do simply as our governments instruct, nor simply to hold to account governments who seek an excuse to overstep moral bounds. They further require us to act, often independently, and where no formal request may have been made, against some of our own rights to the benefit of our neighbours and many others we have never met.

It probably already was, but in whatever becomes the “new normal”, it will, perhaps, be increasingly outmoded to think of the social contract in purely, or even in largely, vertical terms – certainly in many of the post-colonial societies of the Global South but equally in those where such thinking would appear to make more historical sense.

This is not a suggestion that governments and the legitimation of our collective relationship to them will become redundant. Far from it. It is a suggestion, however, that in calculating the respective health of our societies, we ought to shift some focus away from simply what governments are doing and what they are capable of doing to the collective capacities of citizens, particularly on the basis of a mutual respect and obligation they have shown themselves as having towards one another.

This has implications for the judgments we make of societies on the basis of the structure of their political or economic systems alone. It may not suffice, as it seems to have done for a number of decades, to determine the health of a country based purely on socio-economic measures such as whether the country is economically ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ or whether it is procedurally governed by electoral democracy or autocracy. We ought, also, to ask, how deeply do the citizens of a place truly care about one another?

Dr. Eniola Anuoluwapo Soyemi is a Max Weber Fellow at the EUI. She is currently working on a book manuscript concerning the law’s legitimacy; it focuses on the connection between participation, citizens’ perception of the law’s moral legitimacy, and obedience.


Sebastian DiessnerThe Eurozone’s monetary policy has become more contested and politically salient than ever before. In the wake of Mario Draghi’s departure from the presidency of the European Central Bank (ECB), barely a day went by without media reports of internal disagreements among current ECB decision makers, fierce critiques from businesses, interest groups and former central bankers, and strong rebuttals from the same. In this fraught context, Christine Lagarde, former chairwoman and managing director of the IMF, has now taken over from Draghi, whose decisive policy actions were widely credited with having rescued the single currency from the brink of collapse at the height of the Eurozone crisis.

A consensus seems to have emerged that Lagarde will likely favour the expansive monetary policies of her predecessor and be willing to act as decisively and pragmatically in the case of another shock, brokering the necessary support coalitions within and beyond the central bank. The question, however, will not so much be about the new president’s willingness to act, but about whether the technical and political circumstances will allow her to. On the technical side, observers are increasingly wondering whether the ECB’s policies are running out of steam and whether the scope for future innovation is exhausted, in the face of stubbornly subdued inflation far from the central banks’ self-defined target of ‘below, but close to, 2%’. During the last weeks of his presidency, Draghi’s most poignant farewell message has been that the activation of other policies, most notably fiscal policy, is needed to help the ECB reach its aims as well as revive growth ‘faster and with fewer side effects’ (thereby relieving the central bank from being ‘the only game in town’).

Recent research we have conducted suggests that such nudging of Eurozone governments already played an important part in the ECB’s signalling at the height of the crisis – despite the central bank’s widely assumed preference for fiscal austerity. But these calls have further intensified now that the problem is no longer one of near-imminent financial collapse, but of low growth and inflation, with signs of recession on the horizon. The crux for the technocratic ECB, however, is that fiscal and other government policies are firmly in the realm of national electoral and executive politics – churning out advice on these could thus easily be perceived as undue meddling by the central bank in political affairs (which, in turn, may invite political interference). On top of this, it remains uncertain whether governments will actually feel compelled to listen to the central bank’s pleas.

Perhaps the biggest issue for the future ECB, then, is neither the central banks’ preference for monetary nor for fiscal policy alone, but its views on the extent to which monetary-fiscal coordination – predicted to be necessary for future policy innovation – can be achieved in light of the ECB’s far-reaching independence.

The central bank is likely to contemplate these challenges in the strategic review of its policy framework, set to take place during Lagarde’s term. With ever more stakeholders coming to the fore and voicing preferences for the conduct of monetary policy, the review will likely have to entail a careful balancing act of not merely engaging monetary policy experts, but also the wider (and in certain parts of the Eurozone increasingly sceptical) general public.

To this end, Lagarde can be expected to rely upon German economist Isabel Schnabel on the ECB’s Executive Board, who has not shied away from public debate in the past and has put forward both a measured defence and critique of the central bank’s actions. However, whether the national central banks and their governors on the ECB Governing Council will act as translators and defenders of the ECB’s policy stance or as amplifiers of national disagreements will need to be watched closely.

One supranational political counterpart of the ECB (or perhaps even ally, not least since the crisis), has been the European Parliament and its Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee. While exchanges between successive ECB presidents and MEPs in the ECON Committee during the so-called ‘Monetary Dialogues’ have been seen as a cornerstone of the ECB’s accountability, these arrangements leave ample room for improvement and should also come to be reviewed and overhauled during Lagarde’s tenure.

Despite the relatively large size of the ECON committee, past research indicates that the success of the Monetary Dialogue for the ECB’s political accountability has tended to hinge on the engagement of only a few committed MEPs. Who, then, are the parliamentarians whom Christine Lagarde is facing throughout the first half of her presidency (i.e., the roughly 4 years until the next EP elections)?

While a number of former ECON members went on to become central bankers themselves (such as Sylvie Goulard at the Banque de France, Burkhard Balz at the Bundesbank, and Elisa Ferreira at the Banco de Portugal), the reverse seems true these days, with former president of the Bank of Poland (and former prime minister) Marek Belka, as well as former Czech National Bank deputy governor Luděk Niedermayer (now vice-chair of ECON), among the MEPs facing Lagarde.

Another expert member to be reckoned with is economics professor Luis Garicano, who also coordinates the committee’s liberal Renew group. On the far-right end of the spectrum, law professor Gunnar Beck is taking over from ex-MEP and AfD-founder Bernd Lucke as chief europhobe of the committee. While they and their colleagues are formally in charge of scrutinising the ECB, citizens and civil society will need to do likewise with MEPs. There remains hope that, in addition to a review of the ECB’s policy framework, the ways in which the central bank is held to account will evolve in the process as well, in light of the mounting political challenges ahead.

Based on:
And, for the most part:
Which, in turn, draws on:
Gerba, Macchiarelli and Diessner (as MW Fellow):
Diessner and Lisi:
Jourdan and Diessner:


Research Projects

The EUI launched a competitive selection to promote and fund new research across the humanities and social sciences. Out of 30 new research projects submitted by Ph.D. researchers, postdoctoral and research fellows as well as faculty – across all departments and units – 17 were selected by a committee composed of Research Council members and an EUI faculty. We are happy to present the selected projects that bring EUI and MWP expertise in social sciences and humanities to bear on many of the most urgent societal challenges connected to the COVID-19 crisis.

Marta LopesUsing real-time data on Google search trends in Italy, we study how different provinces reacted to local and national confinement rules. Specifically, we estimate the province-specific changes in telework and e-learning related searches, before and after lockdown – measured using the dates of the law-decrees announcing quarantine measures, and, for robustness, Mobility Reports published by Google. Then, we provide evidence on which socioeconomic characteristics of each province determine the different levels and speeds of adjustment. This project’s contributions are: 1) identifying the magnitude and sources of inequalities, to help policymakers tackle urgent problems of productivity and knowledge acquisition, which are crucial to mitigate the next economic crisis; and 2) providing the first benchmark for future comparisons with representative and established surveys addressing telework and e-learning.


Arianna TassinariBalancing the protection of public health and the preservation of economic growth and business profitability has been a key challenge for policymakers during the COVID-19 emergency, especially decisions about when and where to restrict economic activities in the pandemic’s acute phase. This project asks: How, and to what extent, have business and economic interests influenced the lockdown measures imposed during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic? For the case study we will construct an index to measure variation across Italian regions in the stringency of economic lockdown measures and deploy advanced statistical methods to investigate how the economic relevance and the power of various interest groups account for observed differences. Qualitative studies of selected regions will focus on interactions between economic and business interest groups and public authorities in the formulation of policy responses to COVID-19 from February to June 2020. Our findings will increase transparency around this issue of heated political contention.


Experiencing EpidemicsThe public history platform Experiencing Epidemics will rely on outward-facing podcasts and blog posts by established historians and emerging researchers to explore memories of past traumatic encounters with epidemics. Our goal is to create a space for short  yet nuanced studies focusing on a single archival, literary or material source dealing with epidemics before the rise of germ theory (pre-1900). With this collection, we aim to provide a diverse and thought-provoking depiction of individual and collective encounters with epidemics past to elucidate the fundamental question of what it means to experience a deadly epidemic. The personal narratives brought together in Experiencing Epidemics will grant insights into the emotive, intellectual and cultural challenges faced by individuals past and present that, we hope, will be of value during and after the current COVID-19 emergency.


Coping With COVID-19The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented economic decline in advanced economies, often exacerbating challenges inherited from previous crises. However, the policy responses to these common pressures in the initial ‘fast burning’ phase of the COVID-19-induced recession vary significantly across countries. This project uses a comparative political economy approach to make sense of this variation within the EU and to derive relevant policy implications. First, we map systematically the responses enacted during the first wave of the pandemic (February to September 2020) in the fields of macro-economic (monetary and fiscal) and micro-economic (labour market and business support) policy across selected EU countries. Second, we conduct a cross-country comparative analysis of policy responses. We deploy configurational comparative methods to identify the determinants of policy variation, considering the interplay between institutional, economic, ideological and political factors. The project will generate insights about the preconditions for effective policy responses to sudden shocks.


Tamara PopicWhether aimed at containment or mitigation, all measures for combatting the COVID-19 epidemic rest on the cooperation of European publics with their national authorities, and hence on the publics' responsiveness to government action. This project aims to analyse public responsiveness to governmental activity during the COVID-19 crisis and identify its determinants. To this end, we will construct a new dataset containing information on governmental substantive and rhetorical actions in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and analyse their impact on public compliance and attitudes. By evaluating the factors that moderate the public response to government action related to COVID-19, this project will provide important information to policymakers on populations’ acceptance of public health measures. It will also enrich our theoretical knowledge of political communication, specifically on the crisis of political trust that people fear we are observing in Europe today.


Ari RayThe COVID-19 outbreak has reignited a heated debate in Italy and in Europe about solidarity, deservingness, trust and fairness in allocating resources. Public outcries for compensatory state support have dramatically increased: firms are lobbying for tax exemptions, and workers are demanding additional access to social transfers. As in all economic recessions, this diversity of means the state can potentially employ to aid the failing economy will likely engender distributive conflict in the future. This project investigates two main questions: To what extent does community trust mediate voters’ desire for different state support measures? And, does community trust, and in extension policy preferences, vary in response to information on crisis-time patterns of collective action?



Call for Applications, MW Fellowships 2021-2022The call for the Max Weber Fellowships is open! Please find the application on line at:

The Interdisciplinary Research Clusters for the 2021-2022 Fellowships are:

Democracy in the 21st century
In the first two decades of the 21st century, the broad, public identification with democratic values and practices – seen as unassailable since the Second World War – has been challenged in profound ways. While apparently still supreme as a political principle, democracy is seen to be eroded by new economic disparities, by pressures to circumscribe the perimeter of rights, and by the weakening of its societal roots. There are widespread fears that democracy has been hollowed out, with the meaning of democracy, which has always been a contested concept, being questioned and mistrusted. The tension between democratic representation and technocratic governance is unprecedented, while decisions are made by sheltered elites who pursue economic and functional imperatives. At the same time, various forms of illiberal democracy, authoritarianism, and oligarchy induce many to think that they can perform better than classical liberal democracies. With the decline of most forms of political intermediation, processes of individual empowerment and mobilization – also sustained by new technologies that reshape the context and the dynamics of political persuasion – point to the privatization of political socialization and participation. Combined, these factors nurture the perception that representative democracy should no longer be accepted as the gold standard for good governance.

In response to these challenges, we propose an interdisciplinary inquiry on the making and conditions of democracy in the 21st century. We believe that only a multi-disciplinary assessment can provide the vital insights that European society will need to re-build the legitimacy of democratic representation, the credibility of political institutions, and the social contract that underpins its sustainability. We will focus on several sub-themes, to be studied across the four EUI disciplines, both as a long-term perspective and in the present day. These themes include: the spaces and divisions of democracy; democratic participation and institutions; the rule of law; the development of populisms; and the role of, and consequences for, the European Union in the making of democratic institutions and society.

Inequality, welfare and social justice
The steady increase in economic inequality since 1980 in most EU countries and North America is today widely acknowledged as a major challenge for equal opportunities, democratic stability, economic prosperity and social cohesion at the national and supranational levels. After the postwar era of welfare state expansion, which helped to eradicate old-age poverty, and institutionalized universal access to health care, education and social insurance against unemployment and sickness as a matter of social citizenship rights since the 1959s, progress in social justice have seemingly come to a halt. In some parts of the OECD-world, earnings and benefits have stagnated while the macro economy continued to prosper. Income and wealth inequalities have grown continuously. What has changed in terms of the life chances of citizens, also in terms of health and life style, gender and well-being between the 1980s and today? How did we fare before and after World War II. How come the modern welfare state has not been able to catch up with imbalances in family demography, skill-biased technological change and economic internationalization? What are the implications for 21st-century welfare provision and democratic politics? To address all of these questions and more, we link the long history of (in-)equality to its (historical) economic, social and political causes and consequences, drawing on a wealth of data and multi-disciplinary analyses, including theories of justice and solidarity, ultimately to engage in a wide debate over policy ideas and solutions to contain and overcome the inequality conundrum in rich democracies.

The crisis of expert knowledge and authority
Even after years of study and practical experience the consequences of policies are uncertain. Agreement among experts on the soundness of many policy interventions is greater than realized by the general public, still there is legitimate disagreement. Furthermore, it is not sensible for an individual to invest years of effort in hopes of deciding what the best policies are. Because we cannot sensibly know ourselves what constitutes good policy we must rely on experts.

Following the financial crisis of 2008, we have witnessed an erosion of citizens’ trust in intellectual elites. The role of experts has been questioned. At the same time those who denounce academic expertise and pretend unwillingness to rely on experts follow their own (often self-proclaimed) ‘experts’. Unfortunately, the reliance on charlatans rather than experts often has profoundly negative consequences.

These issues are of importance to Europe and the EU. We have seen political parties denying expert knowledge on a range of issues from debt, growth, migration, and trade to medicine. These movements have strong popular support indicating that people are fed up with experts, and we must recognize that they are right to distrust experts as many have misbehaved.

The theme group on the crisis of expert knowledge aims to investigate why experts are under siege and what should be done. We seek MWP fellows of all specialties who have an interest in these questions.

Technological Change and Society
Technologies across areas such as information and communication technologies, biotechnologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence present a series of challenges for modern societies: ‘smart’ technologies change the workplace, the division of resources in society, the formation of social attitudes and opinions, the patterns and dynamic of social interactions, the allocation and exercise of power. This theme group aims to assess the novel social, economic, ethical, and legal questions that arise.

Technological change in the workplace has already contributed to automation in manufacturing, and advances in AI and robotics are likely to exacerbate this and extend it beyond manufacturing. Digital technologies change interactions in society: on the one hand they allow for greater ability to share, acquire and process information, but also enable increased surveillance and manipulation.  New technologies also raise ethical and legal issues, concerning how to prevent both misuse and underuse of technological developments.

This requires the assessment of opportunities and risks related to transformation induced by technologies, and research meant to translate legal/ethical requirements into prescriptions for the design of human-centred technologies or even directives addressed to intelligent artificial systems. The challenge is to ensure that highly developed technologies remain under human control, contribute to human well-being and autonomy, and are responsive to human values –while their development is also driven by economic, political and military interests. This research requires us to learn from the historical perspective on the connection between science, technology, and society, and to use economic, legal and sociological perspectives to provide insights for the future.


The Max Weber Programme is proud to announce the incoming Max Weber Fellows 2020-2021.

Check them out here:

ANGHEL, Veronica (SPS) ANGHEL, Veronica (SPS)
BAKÓ, Beáta Csilla (LAW) BAKÓ, Beáta Csilla (LAW)
BATTU, Balaraju (SPS) BATTU, Balaraju (SPS)
CARON, Louise Renée Simone (SPS) CARON, Louise Renée Simone (SPS)
CASEY, Conor (LAW) CASEY, Conor (LAW)
COMACCHI, Maria Vittoria (HEC) COMACCHI, Maria Vittoria (HEC)
CONG, Wanshu (LAW) CONG, Wanshu (LAW)
DI CARLO, Donato (SPS) DI CARLO, Donato (SPS)
DONIEC, Katarzyna Julia (SPS) DONIEC, Katarzyna Julia (SPS)
DUCCI, Francesco (LAW) DUCCI, Francesco (LAW)
FERRACANE, Martina Francesca (RSCAS) FERRACANE, Martina Francesca (RSCAS)
FROST, Lillian (RSCAS) FROST, Lillian (RSCAS)
GAGO, Maria (HEC) GAGO, Maria (HEC)
GOOSSEN, Benjamin (HEC) GOOSSEN, Benjamin (HEC)
MILANI, Tommaso (HEC) MILANI, Tommaso (HEC)
MITRA, Aruni (ECO) MITRA, Aruni (ECO)
MOISE, Alexandru Daniel (SPS) MOISE, Alexandru Daniel (SPS)
MUESER, Benjamin (SPS) MUESER, Benjamin (SPS)
ONODA, Takuya (SPS) ONODA, Takuya (SPS)
PEREIRA, Alvaro Enrique (LAW) PEREIRA, Alvaro Enrique (LAW)
POPIC, Tamara (SPS) POPIC, Tamara (SPS)
PRASAD, Shubha (SPS) PRASAD, Shubha (SPS)
QUERIN, Federica (SPS) QUERIN, Federica (SPS)
SONG, Hyang-Gi (SPS) SONG, Hyang-Gi (SPS)
STYVE, Maria Dyveke (HEC) STYVE, Maria Dyveke (HEC)
SUN, Junze (ECO) SUN, Junze (ECO)
TAGIURI, Giacomo (LAW) TAGIURI, Giacomo (LAW)
TONDINI, Alessandro (ECO) TONDINI, Alessandro (ECO)
TSIARAS, Stylianos (RSCAS) TSIARAS, Stylianos (RSCAS)
WITTELS, Annabelle (SPS) WITTELS, Annabelle (SPS)


Facts and Figures About the Applications to the Max Weber Fellowships in 2019The  Research Group on the Europe Union (funded by the French Association for Political Science), has partnered with the peer-reviewed and bilingual journal Politique européenne to launch an initiative on EU and Covid-19. I want to share this call with you as I am a founding member of this Research Group and co-managing the online section in which the papers will be published.

We did a first project on the European elections last year (sadly the articles are only in French) and you can find it here:

The new dossier is advertised here and we will publish both in English and in French:


MWP Alumni’s Corner

Tina FreyburgShort documentary on the role of telecommunications in the implementation of state-ordered shutdowns in Africa

Who is behind internet shutdowns? In this video, we document our on-going research project about the role of telecom operators in politically motivated internet disruptions. Taking the example of the 2016 shutdown during elections in Uganda, the short documentary explains the role of telecom companies in the disruption of access to the internet, ordered by the state government. Governments typically do not directly restrict internet access but order telecom operators to cut access to particular services or entire (sub-)networks. In times where fears spread that access to the internet will be disrupted on polling day during many of the upcoming African elections this year, the video addresses an extremely topical problem. The video was shortlisted for the best documentary film at the Amakula International Film Festival, Kampala, Uganda and the Fast Forward Science Award in ‘Substance’ in Germany.

Link to video:
Link to my website with further info:


James LeeJames is working on projects on 5G and national security policy, the geo-economics of great power rivalry in the Taiwan Strait, a theory of international politics that focuses on variation within bipolar systems, and the relationship between wealth, power, and technology in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War.


Marta MussoA short article announcing the creation of a shared collective bibliography on pandemics in history, launched by the Economic History Society:


Aidan ReganPodcast series

Aidan received funding in 2018 to set up a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at UCD on the ‘New Political Economy of Europe’. As part of this he has developed a podcast series, available on all the major platforms, and YouTube videos:


Past Events

Waltraud Schelkle 15 April 2020, 16:00-18:00
Online Event
Introduction and Chair:
Fabian Mushövel (MW Fellow, SPS)

In this seminar, Prof. Schelkle discussed and compared what seem, at first sight, very different crises: the international financial crisis of 2008-9 that morphed into several sovereign debt crises inside the euro area, on the one hand, and the pandemic of COVID-19 now, on the other.

The macroeconomic challenges are idiosyncratic and unprecedented in each one of these crises. Yet, the collective action problems of responding to them look frustratingly familiar: emergency politics drives institution-building, with solidarity at best a by-product of these institutions. This mode of gestation leaves legacies of division and raises the question how the by-product of solidarity can become a purposefully provided public good.

About the speaker 
Waltraud Schelkle is Professor in Political Economy at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science since 2001. Before that, she was an Assistant and Visiting Professor at the Economics Department of the Free University of Berlin, which she joined from the German Development Institute where she worked as a development economist on India. Her research interests include the European monetary union and welfare state integration, which came together in her latest book on The Political Economy of Monetary Solidarity (OUP 2017).

The Masterclass was not recorded.

Watch the Interview with professor Schelkle online.



Max Weber Lecture June 2020, joint with Rethinking Economics (RE) and Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP)

29 June 2020, 15:00-17:00
Online Event

Dorothee Bohle (MWP Director)

Eleanor Woodhouse (MW Fellow, ECO)

Value is often confused with price. And the public sector is not seen as a value creator, just a market fixer. The lecture will look at both these problems and develop a new approach to public policy that is based on market shaping and co-creation. It will focus on the implications for achieving the sustainable development goals and for constructing a post-Covid economic recovery that is sustainable and inclusive.

The lecture will be based on two key references: Mazzucato’s latest book The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy and her high impact work with the European Commission on Mission Oriented Policy.

About the speaker 
Mariana Mazzucato (Ph.D.) is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP). She received her B.A. from Tufts University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. Her previous posts include the RM Phillips Professorial Chair at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at Sussex University. She is a selected fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and of the Italian National Science Academy (Lincei).

She is the winner of international prizes including the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought and the 2019 All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values.  She was named as one of the '3 most important thinkers about innovation' by the New Republic and one of the 25 leaders shaping the future of capitalism by Wired.

Her highly-acclaimed book The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths (2013) investigates the critical role the state plays in driving growth—and her book The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy (2018) looks at how value creation needs to be rewarded over value extraction.

She advises policymakers around the world on innovation-led inclusive and sustainable growth. Her current roles include being a member of the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisors; the South African President’s Economic Advisory Council; the OECD Secretary General’s Advisory Group on a New Growth Narrative; the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP), Vinnova’s Advisory Panel in Sweden, and Norway’s Research Council.  She is a Special Economic Advisor for the Italian Prime Minister (2020), and through her role as Special Advisor for the EC Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (2017-2019), she authored the high impact report on Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the European Union, turning ‘missions’ into a crucial new instrument in the European Commission’s Horizon innovation programme. 

Watch the Lecture online.


Politics Strikes Back: Europe Between old and new Challenges 7th April 2020 – Online

Silvia D’Amato (MWF-RSC) & Caterina Paolucci (Director James Madison University in Florence)

The Max Weber Programme and the James Madison University’s M.A. Program in European Union Policy Studies are pleased to announce the 13th Joint Graduate Symposium.

The symposium gives JMU’s MA students in European Union Policy Studies an opportunity to present and discuss their own research with Max Weber Fellows and the wider EUI community in an academic setting. This year, the symposium highlights ever diverging problems in the EU, including economic, social, political, and security issues.

Conference programme.


A Time for Anxiety? MWP Social Issues for Social Sciences Conference
A Time for Anxiety?

This year, once again, the June Conference brought together MW Alumni and current Fellows though on a virtual platform. The 65 conference participants engaged their intellectual might in sixteen panels over two days. The online premise of the Conference enabled researchers and scholars not only from EUI but also from other universities to engage in the debate. In times of social distancing, this year the Conference ended with a ‘Virtual Aperitivo’, introduced by a speech from MWP Director, Professor Dorothee Bohle, which also marked the end of this out of the ordinary academic year.

18-19 June 2020, Online

Organizing Committee
Anca Cretu
 (HEC), Julie Deschepper (HEC), Sebastian Diessner (RSCAS), Nils Grevenbrock (ECO), Mateusz Grochowski (LAW), Ian Hathaway (HEC), Viola Müller (HEC), Tamara Popic (SPS), Alessandro Spiganti (ECO), Giacomo Tagiuri (LAW), Eva Zschirnt (SPS)

‘May you live in interesting times’ warns an apocryphal Chinese saying, sometimes used in English as a curse, which was selected as the title for last year's Venice Biennale. It may indeed be wiser to desire to live in uninteresting times, when peace, stability, and prosperity abound. Interesting times are, instead, moments of rapid change, rich in opportunity but also characterized by the displacement of traditions, institutions, and forms of living, which often result in growing inequality and conflict. These moments are, in the minds of many, times for anxiety. To grapple with the transitional nature of our own contemporary world, the 14th Max Weber Conference would like to encourage a responsible scholarly reflection on the turbulent political, economic, legal, and historical processes that characterize - today as in the past - both real and perceived times for anxiety.



A Time for Anxiety?

A picture is worth a thousand words. How many words then, are moving pictures worth?
Important social, political, economic, and legal issues captured and promulgated by movies, this seminar series intends to center an open-floor discussion around a movie that deals with a highly relevant topic related to the four disciplines present at the EUI.

11 February 2020, 18:00-20:30 (Emeroteca, Badia)
"Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to love the Bomb"


Lifecycle of Intergroup Conflict

Subnational intergroup conflict has become ever more salient in Europe and the world over the last decades: from ethnic, religious, gender, class, ideological, generational differences to territorial disputes and anti-immigrant sentiment – there are various groups along the lines of which distributional conflict has formed. In this workshop, we aim at taking a broader, multidisciplinary perspective on the entire lifecycle of in-out-group relations: How does a group become an out-group? How does conflict between groups develop, manifest itself and abate in different contexts? What increases and reduces prejudice toward other groups? In two mornings, nine presentations and a moderated closing discussion, we shed light on these and more questions, hear about Tunisia, Italy, Turkey, the U.S., Germany, and Switzerland, discuss consequences of out-group status for labor market integration, political attitudes and behavior, and learn about ethnic, racial and immigrant/native conflict.

Programme (PDF)


Labour Market Dynamics, Institutions and their Mutual Linkages: Fostering Interdisciplinary Dialogue

5 May 2020

This half-day, multi-disciplinary research workshop will open a dialogue across disciplines studying the different interactions between institutions and labour market dynamics. The mutual relationship between institutions and labour market dynamics has been for decades a key concern of a broad field of scholarship cutting across political economy, economics, labour sociology and labour history. Despite a large (and increasing) academic literature and high interest from the political sphere, dialogue across disciplines has been scarce. In this workshop we bring together Max Weber Fellows, researchers and academics from across the EUI and beyond working from different disciplinary angles on topics concerning the interaction between institutionsregulation and labour market dynamics – from theoretical, historical and empirical perspectives. Together we address how labour market institutions at all levels shape (deliberately or involuntarily) labour market outcomes (unemployment, wage inequality, precarity, labour market segmentation) and how these outcomes feed back into the evolution and adaptation of labour market institutions themselves.

Programme (PDF)


Inequality and Discrimination11-12 May 2020

The aim of this workshop is to bring together academics from different areas of social science working on inequality and discrimination. With an emphasis on data, theory, and policy, this workshop will tackle these issues by exploring key questions like: What do the data tell us about causes and consequences of inequality and discrimination? What are the theories needed to understand what has been happening? What are policy ideas and controversies associated with these problems? This workshop embodies the multidisciplinary approach promoted by the Max Weber Programme: we hope that participants in the workshop will appreciate the contributions brought by different disciplines on the topic of inequality and discrimination, and see the potential of an interdisciplinary approach.

Programme (PDF)


Natural and Field Experiments for the Social Sciences 19-20 May 2020
2-3 June 2020
4-5 June 2020
via and Brightspace Forum

Causal identification has become increasingly important in the social sciences. Natural and field experiments, due to their use of real life data or realistic environments, are at the forefront of methodologies aimed at establishing causal relationships. These methods are continuously advancing; staying informed about the latest developments in this area is paramount to producing relevant and top quality research. Originating from the Max Weber Interdisciplinary Workshops, a group of EUI fellows with the support of faculty has put together a workshop series targeted at bringing leading causal inference scholars to the EUI to offer methods training to EUI researchers, fellows and faculty.

Each session will consist of a lecture and a lab exercise using R. Students will be guided through problem sets to help them to implement the methodologies introduced in the lectures in their own research.

The workshops will be offered as a half credit course (10 hours) and are open to all EUI researchers, faculty and fellows to attend. 

Programme (PDF)


Migration in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

3 June 2020

This one-day multidisciplinary workshop brings together contributions linked broadly to the topic of migration. Since 2015, narratives and imagery of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa and taking to boats to cross the Mediterranean or Aegean in order to find refuge in Europe have become recurrent news. In North America, the US-Mexico border has become a space of exclusion through the migrants’ forced encampment. Furthermore, various international humanitarian organizations have signaled the urgency in addressing forced displacement. However, the incidence of migration is nothing new, as waves and related crises of displacement have been recurrent historical events in times of violence, natural disasters or economic insufficiency. Indeed, contemporary forms of migration and the debates that arise from them are often underscored by historical processes related to race, gender, labor, class, and/or the state. This workshop brings together researchers and academics from across the European University Institute and beyond, working from different disciplinary angles on topics concerning local, national and international governance of migration, the socio-economic integration of migrants, and public opinion about immigration.

Programme (PDF)


The Protean Consumer: Exploring Competing Visions of Consumption and Consumerism 24 June 2020

This workshop draws together scholars from history, law, and the social sciences whose work is linked to the study of consumption from a variety of perspectives. Through theoretical, historical and empirical contributions, the workshop aspires to pluralize consumption, and particularly the consumer, by emphasizing roles and processes that have been relatively marginalized in both academic and popular discourse. The consumer ceases to be understood as either vulnerable or resistant and takes on new roles. The papers in the workshop illuminate the complexity of some of such roles across different historical and geographical contexts, as well as different ideational contexts; from law to economics, from popular culture to the arts. Understanding such roles seems important because different representations of the consumer are mobilized towards different social and political ends. The workshop will be an opportunity for cross-disciplinary training and contamination of perspectives that will enrich individual research agendas as well as point to future opportunities for collaboration. 

Programme (PDF)



In line with the EUI Open Access Policy, we invite you to send us any academic publication that you have published during or after your time at the MWP of the EUI. If the publication is based on research that you carried out here at the EUI, it is eligible for inclusion in Cadmus, EUI Research Repository. Having your work in Cadmus increases the visibility of your research because Cadmus is indexed in Google Scholar, harvestable by other international portals (including Worldcat and EBSCO) and interoperable with ORCID.

  • Grace Ballor (MWF HEC, 2018-2020): After spending the coming year as Harvard Business School's Newcomen Fellow, Grace will begin a position as Assistant Professor of Economic History at Bocconi.
  • James Lee (MWF SPS, 2018-2019): James Lee is now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, which is based at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests are in grand strategy and great power politics in periods ranging from ancient Greece to the Cold War to the present day.
  • Tobias Lenz (MWF RSCAS, 2015-2016): Tobias has recently been appointed as a professor of International Relations at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany.
  • Magdalena Malecka (MWF LAW, 2013-2015): During the next academic year Magdalena will become a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (School of Social Science).
  • Giesela Rühl (MWF LAW, 2007-2008): Giesela has recently been part of a team of 14 European scholars who founded the European Association of Private International Law (EAPIL) in 2019. She has also been elected to the Board of the Association and named Secretary General. The newly founded Association sees itself as a forum to further the study and development of (European) private international law. It aims 1) to connect (European) scholars and practitioners, 2) to work towards a pan-European discourse across language and national borders and 3) to build bridges to the Private International Law communities of non-EU Member States as well as non-European countries. Since its foundation in December 2019 more than 170 lawyers – academics and practitioners – from more than 30 countries have joined the Association. She recently accepted an offer to become Professor of European and Private International Law and Comparative Law at Humboldt University of Berlin in the fall.
  • Violet Soen (MWF HEC, 2008-2009): Violet has been elected as Research Manager of the newly configured KU Leuven Institute LECTIO: KU Leuven Institute for the Study of the Transmission of Texts, Ideas and Images in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. During the next four years, she will be responsible for coordinating research into the History of Universities and Education.
  • Kristin Surak (MWF SPS, 2010-2011): Kristin recently took up a position in the sociology department at the London School of Economics, where she will be moving from the politics department at SOAS, University of London.
  • Antonio Aloisi (MWF LAW, 2018-2019): Antonio has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship for his research at IE Law School, IE University on Boss Ex Machina practices. Thanks to the EU Commission’s funding he will be investigating the ‘genetic mutation’ of prerogatives exercised by employers, managers, co-workers and clients in workplaces driven by machines, AI and online platforms.‪ ‬‬‬
  • Lola Avril (MWF LAW, 2019-2020): Lola’s Ph.D. dissertation was awarded the 2019 best thesis prize from the European Law Faculties Association.
  • Gregorio Bettiza (MWF SPS, 2012-2014): Gregorio’s book  Finding Faith in Foreign Policy: Religion and American Diplomacy in a Postsecular World (Oxford University Press: 2019) received a Special Mention of Excellence for the 2019 Alberigo Awards from the European Academy of Religion.
  • Mauricio Bucca (MWF SPS, 2018-2020): Mauricio, joint with Daniela R. Urbina (Princeton Sociology) won the Methodology’s Clifford C. Clogg Award for an outstanding graduate student paper in sociological methodology, ‘Lasso Regularization for Selection of Log-linear Models: An Application to Educational Assortative Mating’, Sociological Methods and Research 2019.
  • Adriana Bunea (MWF SPS, 2013-2014): On 6 March 2020, Adriana was awarded the Meltzer Prize for Outstanding Young Researchers for 2019 at the University of Bergen in recognition of her professional achievements.
  • Jorge Díaz Ceballos (MWF HEC, 2019-2020): Jorge has been been awarded with Honorary Mention for the 2019 Franklin Pease G. Y. Prize for best article published in the Colonial Latin American Review  between 2017 and 2018 for the article titled New World Civitas, Contested Jurisdictions and Intercultural conversation in the Construction of the Spanish Monarchy, published in 2018.
  • Jonathan Chapman (MWF ECO, 2015-2016): Jonathan was awarded T.S. Ashton Prize for the best article accepted for publication in the Economics History Review. Chapman, J. (2019), ‘The contribution of infrastructure investment to Britain’s urban mortality decline, 1861–1900’, Economic History Review, 72: 233-259. doi:
  • Nai Rui Chng (MWF SPS, 2009-2010): Nai Rui’s project on Evaluability Assessment at the University of Glasgow has been awarded a place on the highly competitive SUCCESS programme, which is a first-of-its-kind incubator programme designed to help social scientists with innovative and marketable research ideas. Funded by the Aspect Social Sciences Network, SUCCESS provides training, support and funding to transform ideas into a business or social enterprise. The programme's cohort are benefitting from support to build their idea, including a bootcamp focused on imparting entrepreneurial skills, and the opportunity to pitch to investors for prize money of up to £50,000.
  • Martin Dumav (MWF ECO, 2013-2015): Martin has been recently awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship for his research project 'Behaviour, cognition, organizations. Relational contracting approach to design of contractual forms'. The project will take place at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and the University of Texas at Austin during 2020-2022.
  • Lachlan McNamee (MWF SPS, 2019-2020): Lachlan, jointly with Anna Zhang, won the Robert O'Keohane award for best article by a junior scholar in International Organization in 2019. The article is open access until the end of July thanks to Cambridge University Press Politics.
  • Clara Rauchegger (MWF LAW, 2016-2018):Clara won the 2019 Eduard Wallnöfer Award for her research on hate speech and disinformation on the internet.
  • Annika Wolf (MWF LAW, 2013-2015): Annika was awarded a EUR 1.6 mio EXIST V - Grant by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Culture of the Lower Saxony for her project 'MeerCommunity'. The grant will run from 2020-2024. She was also awarded a grant by EDR/Interreg for participating in a project to build a startup-ecosystem in the Ems-Dollart-Region. The grant will run from 2020-2022. For the time of the grant she will have a part-time position at the University of Oldenburg.
  • Katarzyna Kryla-Cudna (MWF LAW, 2016-2017): Michal Piotr Cudny was born on 20 January 2020 in Warsaw, Poland.
  • Justin Valasek (MWF ECO, 2011-2012): Gabriella Iva Rose was born on 26 February 2020.

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