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Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies - European University Institute

Fragility and resilience: EU polity during the long crisis decade

The two-day SOLID conference, attended by over 40 scholars, addressed the European Union's adaptive responses to a decade of unprecedented challenges. Among the distinguished speakers was Brigid Laffan, who shared valuable insights on polity resilience.

20 December 2023 | Event

On 11 and 12 December, the EUI hosted more than 40 scholars who gathered to discuss comparative crisis research done over the past 15 years. The conference was organised by Professor Waltraud Schelkle in the framework of an ERC-funded Synergy project, SOLID. SOLID is a six-year collaborative project hosted at the European University Institute (EUI), the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the University of Milano and led by principal investigators Hanspeter Kriesi (EUI), Waltraud Schelkle (EUI), and Maurizio Ferrera (UniMi).

SOLID stands for ‘Policy Crisis and Crisis Politics. Sovereignty, Solidarity and Identity in the EU post 2008’ and investigates policymaking in the EU in times of crisis, including the crisis of the Euro Area, the surge of refugee flows, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges to socio-economic cohesion in the EU. This conference aimed to explore the politicisation of these crises, as well as the policy responses to address the conflicts over sovereignty, solidarity, and identity. Ultimately, the focus was on the implications for the EU as an evolving political system. The research presented tries to make sense of seemingly contradictory relationships: between processes of deep polarisation and bold polity-building, unrelenting identity politics, and pragmatic agreements on reform and the fragility and resilience of EU institutions.

In her presentation on ‘Polity resilience and polity maintenance,’ Professor Brigid Laffan discussed how the EU avoided the “national reflex, the constraining consensus and destructive dissensus” in relation to the two crises following COVID-19 and the Ukraine war. Her analysis answered the question: “How did the EU manage to forge solutions and how did it amass and deploy collective power?”.

An observation on EU crises shared at the start echoed throughout her presentation: “When the EU faces hard policy choices, crises, there is a tendency to catastrophise it, both in the media but also among academics… If every crisis is existential to the EU, how is it that it has rather managed to make its way through?”

This last question has motivated the SOLID project from the start and a number of answers were discussed at the conference. “While authors have explained how the EU managed to maintain resilience in specific crises, the next step is to explain how it survived the long crisis since 2008, in other words: the challenge of interdependent and interacting crises,” noted Professor Schelkle.

Watch Brigid Laffan’s presentation on ‘Polity resilience and polity maintenance’.

Learn more about the SOLID project.


Last update: 20 December 2023

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