European Union Policy Studies

JMU Max Weber Graduate Symposium Spring 2016


This year the Max Weber Programme and James Madison University’s Master in European Union Policy Studies presented their 9th Joint Graduate Symposium on European Policies. As in the past editions, the symposium served as a platform for JMU’s master’s students to present their work and ideas about the EU. This year's 12 students presented their graduate papers in the professional setting of an academic conference. Their work was evaluated by EUI Max Web Fellows, who offered advice on how to improve and expand their analysis.

The day was divided into topical panels and concluded with a Keynote Speech from US Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner (read about his lecture here). For those unable to attend the day-long event, here's a play-by-play of the day's presentations:

Panel 1 - The Foreign Policies of the EU

Jordan Burns analysed the change in the U.S. Republican party and the German Christian Democrats (CDU) with regard to the migration policies. By attributing the changes to major specific historical phases, the paper provided an overview on the motivations behind the rise of restrictive migration policies and open migration policies. Meghan Niebuhr's paper presented an insight into the civil war in Sudan and European Union’s response within the United Nations (UN). After discussing the increased U.N. involvement in peacekeeping missions and the resolutions that were taken, it was argued that a relatively limited commitment of forces and member states’ interests have made it hard to unify external actions so far. Jacqueline Severance discussed the EU response to the Russian action in the EU Baltic states. The Russian cyber warfare on the Estonian government and the illegal annexation of Crimea caused complications between the EU and Russia. The Nord Stream II, a new pipeline to double Russian gas flows to Germany through the Baltic sea, is splitting the EU due the possibility of threatening the security of the Baltics and of creating destabilizing geopolitical consequences.

Panel 2 - EU Enlargements as Political Instruments

Karissa Suarez del Real focused on the enlargement and the integration of the Roma population in the Eastern EU. Access to jobs, political and economic motivations have been the key to the Roma migrations. In spite of the anti-discrimination policies of the EU, the Roma inclusion does not seem improved enough to meet European human rights standards. Among the different reasons for this lack of inclusion, it was argued that a fear that non educated Roma could be draining welfare sources from EU countries exists. Shannon Rano discussed the EU influence on candidate countries in reforming policies to align with the Copenhagen criteria. The study focused on 2 variables. First, the incentive to reform, based on the self- interest in reforming. Second, the state capacity to implement reforms, influenced by the efficiency of the judicial system, the level of corruption and the lack of freedom of expression. With regard to these variables, Turkey has shown more capacity to implement and maintain reforms through the EU joint action plan than Serbia, which instead had more incentives than Turkey but lower state capacity. Audrey Lievens evaluated the effect of the immigration crisis in Syria on accession talks between Turkey and the EU. Over the last years, human rights abuses have prevented the EU from considering Turkey’s accession possible. However, given the Syrian refugee crisis, the EU needs Turkey’s aid as it is a key actor to solve this crisis. Therefore, it is negotiating a joint action plan. As a result, it can be argued that the EU has given up its conditionality policy towards Turkey, given the necessity to cooperate on the refugee crisis.

Panel 3 - EU Policy-Making in the Face of Current Challenges

Dane Farrell presented an empirical analysis of lobbying dynamics in the EU, based on data from the EU’s transparency register on interest groups. In the EU as a whole and EU15 (old member states), interest groups have more access when they are part of coalitions with relevant stakeholders and receive high amount of EU funding. Their access level is not correlated to the number of people involved in the group, the lobbying costs and the amount of EU grants. However, the interest groups in the EU13 (new member states post 2004) have more access especially when they receive more grants from the EU whereas no correlation exists with the amount of EU fundings given to them. Karah Fissel compared welfare resilience in Spain, Sweden and the United States. The states responded differently to the economic crisis. As a result, changes in the welfare model of these countries occurred. Sweden responded with fiscal stimulus although altered after the crisis, US with deregulation and focus on private insurance, thereby showing resiliency. On the other hand, Spain was not as resilient and austerity was stronger. Logan Hoffman conducted a research on the access to energy resources in the EU and the US. The US has much more access to natural gas and coal reserves than any EU country. However, the EU 27 produced double the electricity than the US in 2011. Climate change in the EU is perceived as a problem by public opinion. The EU is more enthusiastic than the US on renewable energy resources, due to a lower access to fossil energy.

Panel 4 - Technology and Security Issues

Meghan Pearson analysed cybercrime and the framework of action of the EU’s response. The EUROPOL agency whose main goal is to help achieve a safer Europe from cyber attacks and terrorism, the Joint cybercrime action force (J-CAT) to respond to cyber threats. Cooperation remains key for member states sharing of information and coordination among countries needs to be deeper, especially with regards to the intelligence sector. Robert Snook discussed cybercrime as a new battlefield in this century and presented possible EU responses. Hard power and NATO’s importance to combat this issue are not as relevant as they were in the last century. New solutions should involve stronger justice and home affairs, increased policing through the EUROPOL, the european cybercrime center and judicial coherence. A response at the EU level is necessary. Lewis Creech gave an insight into the existing transatlantic perspectives on drones. Drones generally come with a high rate of disapprovement in Europe whereas public opinion in the US is mostly in their favour. Most states in the US have debated and passed legislation on drones, with different rules from one another. In Europe, France leads for the number of rules concerning drones and some defence ministers instituted research studies on them. However, discussion on moral issues and different views on drones make it hard to coordinate efforts at the EU level.

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Published: Friday, April 1, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2020

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