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Borders, sovereignty and self-determination in contemporary Europe

From June 15, 2016 to September 30, 2017

Brexit has shown that the EU integration process has lost its forward dynamic and can go also backward or sideways. Many political, economic, jurisdictional or social borders in Europe are changing. The EU is rescaling, as new circles of integration and collaboration emerge above, below and across the state system.

However, most of these dynamics are usually complementing but not replacing the state. Traditional ideas of sovereignty are still powerful. While many arguments about self-determination return to issues of sovereignty, the substantive meaning of sovereignty is every time more unclear in this fluent context.

We would like to address these linked issues of borders, sovereignty and self –determination through new conceptualizations and approaches. We will concentrate on the fields of political science, international relations and law answering different conceptual, empirical and normative questions.

We find growing internal differences, which create fluent internal boarders for some specific purposes. Differential circles of integration and collaboration are becoming complex, diverse and interdependent. There are different spatial economies, social systems, political communities, security zones and communities of solidarity.

The Euro area creates a major internal division, but there are also internal borders in respect to specific fields including refugees, migrants and labour rights. We find different depth of policies/sovereignty including different clusters of Member States. External borders are becoming increasingly diverse and multiple. Integration proceeds at different pace creating a variety of models linking states to the EU. We find a differentiation of status for states, territories and communities within the European Union and its neighbourhood.  The relevant questions are: How does the EU react to UK withdrawal and further enlargement. How does it design its neighbourhood policy? The new conceptualisation of inner boundaries and external borders changes the concept of state sovereignty in a multi-level system. With that it can ease the issue of self-determination, as the traditional components of statehood can be unpacked and separated. In our project we will analyse the described political phenomenon with its new dynamics, trying to explain its casual processes and its consequences. The chapters should articulate a substantively important, theoretically relevant research question, which relates to the puzzle or one of the three sub-fields.

Team Members

Adam Holesch_foto
Adam Holesch
Contact person

Participating institutions

Funding institutions

  • Diplocat, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia


Jacint Jordana