Yes we research!

Our research is thematic, multidisciplinary, and inspired by themes with societal relevance.

Under the title ‘Europe in the Globalising World’, we focus on questions concerning the character and the direction of the European integration process and the functioning of the European Union itself – in particular the institutional organisation of the EU, its substantive norms and the character of the Union as a policy-making body. We also examine the EU’s relations with its Member States (and their different layers of government and society) and the role of the European Union in world affairs.

New challenges such as technological developments and the rise of chauvinist and nationalist movements require new solutions from the EU. Brexit has also confronted the union with urgent existential questions for which it has no ready-made answers. All of these have far-reaching consequences for the more normative dimensions of European integration: how the European integration process should develop; its vision for the future; relations with Member States and other non-EU states; and its role on a global level.

Research Agenda

Research Theme 1

Democracy, Politics, Security and Rule of Law

Sixty years after its inception, the European Union is still grappling with the key issues of national sovereignty and democratic legitimacy. Who calls the shots and at what level of government?

The EU has spawned several supranational institutions including a parliament and a court, but how should these interact with their national counterparts? And where do regional and local authorities come in? What kind of reforms are needed to safeguard democracy and ensure that citizens get more involved in the European project instead of falling prey to Euroscepticism? These are only a few of the questions that will need to be analysed and researched.

Equally high on the research agenda will be the internal and external threats facing the European project. How do we foster European integration and strengthen the rule of law? Do we need new forms of collaboration to tackle urgent global issues such as climate change, migration, cyber security and terrorism? And how do we reduce tensions on Europe’s periphery and make neighbouring regions more stable and secure?

Research Theme 2

Identity, Heritage and the Citizens’ Perspective

When six European nations embarked on the integration process in the wake of World War II, there was no blueprint. Of course, the founding fathers had a vision and shared ideals, but the real driving forces over time have eluded both scientists and the public. This calls for some thorough research, also on a fundamental level, into the role of ideas in shaping modern European history.

Meanwhile, European integration has left citizens afraid of losing their identity and cultural heritage. The influx of immigrants has fuelled these fears. Our research will focus on what happens to history and heritage in multicultural societies. It will examine the role of politicians, governmental bodies and cultural institutions. Seeking to boost social and cultural participation, these actors have embraced new technologies, even though the legal and ethical frameworks are still under construction.

The Euregion can serve as a research laboratory. After all, the former mining region has had to cope with similar challenges and may help us understand the impact of major changes in society and what it means to be a European citizen.

Research Theme 3

Prosperity, Welfare and Inequality

There are still considerable differences in living standards, life expectancy and health within the EU despite continued efforts to create a level playing field. One explanation is that Brussels may have tried too hard, making member states reluctant to implement policies. Of course, the 2008 financial crisis didn’t really help. It led to a knee-jerk reaction of more centralised control.

Further research will help us understand what caused the failure of EU strategies designed to limit social and health inequalities, and provide recommendations for future policies, including proposals to improve shock resilience. Our research will look at three major challenges facing the EU:

  • The ageing population will put pressure on social security and pension systems across Europe and raises issues relating to health, migration and lifelong learning.
  • Technological innovations like robotics and automation are set to impact people’s daily lives and the labour market. So will Global Value Chains: production chains with tasks spread over different countries.
  • Sustainable development is an area in which the EU is well-placed to take on a leading role.

Research Theme 4

Knowledge, Technology and Digitalisation

Supported by the European Commission, the business-enterprise sector is playing a major role in generating new knowledge and technologies. Research on the economic effects of these corporate investments is in high demand. The findings may help businesses exploit their innovation potential. This, in turn, will benefit the EU and its citizens. Innovations in automation and digitalisation are expected to boost the EU’s long-term competitiveness, help build a greener society and improve the overall quality of life of EU citizens.

The use of social media may help boost citizen engagement and participation in politics. It can produce knowledge in areas such as medicine, science and politics. However, the use of these tools is not without critics. More research is needed into how knowledge is created and shared by digital platforms. The same applies to the increased use of data by European companies and organisations. How do they handle, analyse and interpret these rich datasets? Can they be used more efficiently for decision-making? And what are the ethical, legal and social implications?

All this research will benefit from a high-quality research infrastructure, offering new opportunities for sharing and connecting data and resources across the continent.

Read the full Maastricht, Working on Europe strategic research agenda here.

Research Calls

The Maastricht, Working on Europe research scheme contains five calls and aims to encourage multidisciplinary research, larger grant applications, publication of scholarly papers and establishment of strategic research consortia.

Call 1

Post-doctoral researchers (research theme 3 and 4) (filled)

Call 2

Preparing a large grant application and strategic consortium (open now – third round, deadline 31 August, 5:00 PM CET)

Call 3

Fundamental research – Early career scholars (open now – third round, deadline 31 August, 5:00 PM CET)

Call 4

Policy briefs (open now, allocation of funds on a rolling basis)

Call 5

Workshops and conferences (open now, allocation of funds on a rolling basis)

The research proposals and applications must be:

  1. innovative and of high academic quality;
  2. clearly linked to one of the four defined main research themes;
  3. interdisciplinary and interfacultary in nature;
  4. show a strong societal impact, outreach and/or citizen science component and/or;
  5. include acquisition of external funding (i.e. “a fly-wheel effect”).

Please keep an eye on this website for updates.
Additional information can be found on the Maastricht University website.

CALL 2 and CALL 3

We are looking for teams of (at least) two researchers of (at least) two faculties with proven academic quality and interdisciplinary ambitions to strengthen the Maastricht, Working on Europe research agenda. The research teams have a proven interest in one or more of the research themes defined in this agenda.

Deadline for applications is 15 December, 5:00 PM CET.

CALL 4 and CALL 5

Call 4 (Preparing Policy Briefs) and call 5 (Organising Workshops/Conferences) are open from 15 February 2019 to staff members of Maastricht University.

Allocation of funds on a rolling basis.

More info

For more information and links to application documents for all calls, please visit the Maastricht University website and scroll down to the Research Calls.


A Charter of European Public Goods

Charta 2020 is a vision for a democratic and egalitarian European Union and a demand to recognize 20 European public goods that would get us there.

Charta 2020 is promoted by Agora Europe and has been collectively written by several dozen international activists and academics. It outlines the conditions for European integration across 20 public goods that we Europeans should endorse to make Europe a better and safer place for all citizens and residents.

Do you want to play a key role in enhancing democracy in the EU? Do you want to actively contribute to shaping the European political space of the future? Then take charge yourself! Endorse Charta 2020!

Read everything about Charta2020 here .