TransSOL teams presented key findings of the first project period at the 8th Pan-European Conference on the European Union of the European Consortium for Political Research and its EU-Standing Group. The conference took place on 16th-18th June at the University of Trento and brought together scientific papers under the topic “The Union’s Institutional and Constitutional Transformations: Stress or Adaptation?”. The TransSOL project contributed to the conference with a panel on “Transnational Solidarity in Times of Crisis – Challenge or Chance for European Cohesion?” The panel was based upon the notion that solidarity has become a key issue within the European Union. Continued divisions between member states regarding financial solidarity with weak states and a fair distribution of burden-sharing in relation to the high numbers of refugees has revealed the difficulties of living up the standards of solidarity and cohesion recurrently advocated by the EU. The panel aimed at broadening the debate about European solidarity by focusing on ‘civic solidarity’. Its main objective was to shed more light on the scope of solidarity at the level of the citizenry and societies in Europe. Existing evidence tends to paint an ambivalent picture, because the rise of solidarity initiatives in many issue fields is as notable as the spread of populist groups and movements across Europe. Against this backdrop, the panel sought to shed light on this underdeveloped research field with the aim of answering a number of basic questions: Does our conceptual and theoretical understanding of solidarity help to address the specificities of European solidarity? How is solidarity affected by its context? And what does transnational solidarity mean at the level of citizens and civil societies?
The papers presented by members of the TransSOL-consortium provided numerous insights in relation to these questions. On the one hand, findings revealed that European solidarity at the citizens’ level is conditioned by the scope and structure of organised civil society and the opportunities and constraints provided by the legal and institutional environment. The principle of solidarity and its institutionalisation in the legal system (constitutional and case law) seems to play a key role in this respect. Empirical analyses of the Italian, British, Germany, Danish, and Swiss situation demonstrated that civic solidarity is a growing field of engagement. It is operationalised through a considerable number of initiatives, groups and organisations, and a notable degree of interorganisational networking. However, differences between the issue fields of disabilities, unemployment and refugees indicate that citizens tend to react in a compensatory manner to the most pressing hardships and crises of the domestic and European governance structures. Moreover, civic solidarity is a highly contentious field of action, and thus any research into this subject matter encounters a myriad of antagonistic claims and mobilisations.
The panel on transnational solidarity was very well attended by political scientists and European studies scholars and provided a fruitful occasion for TransSOL members to engage in direct discourse about our research findings with fellow scholars. What is more, the panel discussions confirmed that there is a high demand to understand better the issue of transnational solidarity, its forms, conditions, role models and policy implications.
- Transnational Solidarity within the European Union: Towards a Framework of Analysis (Christian Lahusen, University of Siegen)
- Does Solidarity Shape ‘The People’ or Do ‘The People’ Shape Solidarity? A Critical Analysis of the Italian Case within the European Union (Veronica Federico, Nicola Maggini and Ester di Napoli, University of Florence)
- This Sceptred Isle? Britain and the Shrinking Shorelines of Solidarity (Thomas Montgomery and Simone Baglioni, Glasgow Caledonian University)
- New Patterns of Solidarity towards Refugees and Migrants in Germany and Denmark (Deniz Duru, University of Copenhagen, and Ulrike Zschache, University of Siegen)
- Mapping Resilience at Times of Crisis: Practices and Forms of Solidarity in Switzerland (Eva Fernandez and Marco Giugni, University of Geneva)
More information can be found on the conference website.