SOLID is the result of the synergies which brought together prof. Maurizio Ferrera, Professor of Political Science at Università degli Studi di Milano, Hanspeter Kriesi, Professor of Political Science at the European University Institute and Prof. Waltraud Schelkle, Professor in Political Economy at the London School of Economics.
Before joining forces for SOLID, prof. Kriesi and prof. Ferrera have both been PIs of ERC Advanced Grant projects (project Polcon and project REScEU, respectively), addressing similar problems, with a complementary focus on the demand (POLCON) and supply (REScEU) sides. Synergies have already been created in terms of shared knowledge, research interests and methods. Kriesi and Ferrera have both been engaged in reviving Stein Rokkan’s framework, making it suitable for the analysis of the integration process. SOLID will build on this framework, but it will innovate by linking it with Schelkle’s politico-economic perspective. A close interaction between comparative politics, public policy and political economy in a single project is quite uncommon. Additional cross-disciplinary synergies will be generated through the recruitment of experts in political communication (social media analysis), advanced natural language processing methods and applied ontology.
Political conflicts in Europe in the shadow of the Great Recession
The project focuses on the structuration of political conflict in Europe, based on an analysis of political contestation in the electoral arena, the protest arena and in issue-specific events and contentious episodes. The key question is whether the Great Recession and its consequences are changing the long-term trends in the development of political conflict in Europe. The first phase of the project is based on novel data sets on national elections and protest events in 30 European countries covering the period of 2000-2015. The second phase of the project is still ongoing and is zooming in on key political events – such as bailouts and austerity packages – and on contentious episodes in order to study the mechanisms which have mediated the economic impact of the crisis in the political are
Reconciling Economic and Social Europe: the role of ideas, values and consensus
The project focuses on the institutional and political strains between the economic and the social dimensions of integration. A neo-Weberian theoretical framework has been elaborated in order to investigate four lines of conflict: 1) market-making vs. market correcting at the EU level; 2) opening vs. closure as regards free movement and access to benefits; 3) mutual solidarity vs. national responsibility in fiscal policy; 4) supranationalism vs. souverainisme. Detailed case studies have been carried out. Public and elite attitudes vis-à-vis various policy and reform options have been tapped in two original surveys conducted in seven EU countries and extensive social media analysis. An online observatory (“EuVisions”) has been launched for data presentation and dissemination and for policy debate. The results of the first half of the project have been presented in a book by the PI and many articles on peer reviewed journals.
The Political Economy of Monetary Solidarity
Waltraud Schelkle, has been working on risk sharing in the euro area and, historically, in the US dollar area (Schelkle, 2017). Her research provides evidence for an extensive risk sharing during the crisis, even though the EU has not been acknowledged (let alone praised) for achieving collective action. The findings can be summarized in a political-economic paradox of diversity: the more diverse a monetary union (or more generally: a polity) is, the greater the economic potential for mutually beneficial risk-sharing but also the more difficult to realize this potential politically. Risk sharing is therefore bound to remain incomplete and contested even when it promises a net insurance gain.