The Informal Construction of Europe

Mechthild Roos's picture
March 23, 2017 to March 25, 2017
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies

Call for Papers

The Informal Construction of Europe

 13th History of European Integration Research Society (HEIRS) Conference, Luxembourg-Ville, 23-25 March 2017

Treaties and laws constitute the formal fundaments of European integration. Yet, informal activities on the European intergovernmental, supranational and transnational stage have often been a necessary precondition for concerted action leading to binding agreements and political change. National delegations met not only at negotiation tables when drafting new Community treaties or negotiating legal texts, but made decisive bargains in informal settings. Members of supranational institutions, such as notably the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament and, more recently, the European Central Bank, went far beyond the framework of tasks and responsibilities initially provided for them, and thus decisively shaped their own role as well as European policy areas. Interest groups have aimed to exert influence on decision-makers by way of informal strategies ranging from argumentative persuasion to political pressure.

In the course of European integration, not only soaring ambitions of governments, institutions or individuals led to the deviation from officially outlined paths and procedures: in the construction of a united Europe, events such as crises, catastrophes and conflicts opened up or pointed out voids in the evolving trans- and supranational structures. Hence, those concerned with finding European level solutions had little choice but to seek new, effective, though not (yet) provided ways to solve arising issues. In many cases, these new ways served those pursuing them in strengthening their own institution in the long term, although it regularly brought them into conflict with (supra)national actors and vested interests.

This conference aims to bring together scholars studying informal procedures that shaped European politics – both in the EU and in transnational co-operations. Next to research on the conference theme itself, methodological approaches to the analysis of informal processes are of interest: such processes often produce few source documents, which may in addition be hard to access. The theme of the conference thus also poses the methodological question of how to demonstrate and analyse the seemingly invisible – influence and socialisation, attitudes and interests, informal bargaining and conflicts, to only name a few. In cooperation with the University of Luxembourg, HEIRS invites particularly PhD candidates at any point in their research project, as well as postdoctoral researchers, to present their insights on the conference theme.

Presentations may cover (but are not limited to):

  • The deviation of institutions, bodies and agencies from the role initially provided for them in Community treaties, with a special focus on the applied strategies and resulting discourses
  • Conflicts within and between institutions on various levels (supranational, transnational, national, regional) arising as a consequence thereof
  • The impact and formalisation of informally developed procedures in Community/EU legislation, policy implementation, funding, aid programmes etc. (both furthering and delaying or even hindering common action)
  • The role of individual personalities as well as networks and interest groups in bargaining processes, negotiations and the shaping of European integration
  • A critical view on informal activities, for instance concerning questions of legitimacy, accountability, transparency, viability and efficacy

The deadline for the submission of proposals is 1 December 2016. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short CV to Lennaert van Heumen ( and Mechthild Herzog ( There is no conference fee. The accommodation costs will be covered for all participants presenting a paper. Those who have no access to funding from their home institution may apply for coverage of travel expenses. The organisers aim to publish a selection of the presented papers in an edited volume, or a special issue in an academic journal.

The History of European Integration Research Society (HEIRS) is a postgraduate student network. HEIRS aims at fostering the collaboration and interaction of postgraduate researchers across Europe with an interest in European integration history. This conference will bring together young researchers from various disciplines to discuss their work in a number of panels. In addition, there will be keynote lectures and speakers will be available for in-depth discussions.

Contact Info: 

In case of questions, please contact Mechthild Herzog (University of Luxembourg, member of the HEIRS Steering Committee).

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