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Norwegian researchers focus on Europe:

Seeking new knowledge about the European crisis

The financial crisis in Europe also affects the countries that have been doing well up to now. What will the impact of the crisis be on democracy and employment in the longer term – both for the EU countries and for a country such as Norway?

Norwegian researchers will be investigating these questions more closely in two large-scale interdisciplinary projects funded under the Research Council of Norway’s Europe in Transition research initiative (the EUROPA initiative).

Photo: Shutterstock Protests against welfare cuts in Madrid in February 2013. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A total of NOK 48 million will be allocated over a period of five years to researchers at the Centre for the Study of Equality, Social Organization and Performance (ESOP) and the ARENA Centre for European Studies, both affiliated with the University of Oslo.

Through international collaboration and a distillate of economics, political science, sociology, history, law and philosophy, among others, the projects will generate new insight into the ramifications of the current crisis and what Europe can do to divert it.

Economics, politics and social change go hand in hand

Professor Kalle Moene at ESOP is heading a project that will be studying the interaction between politics, economic development and social change in Europe. The researchers will be looking at how the current crisis affects wages and employment, legislation, social values and labour conflicts throughout Europe.

A key question is how to promote growth and employment in today’s Europe. Answering this will require a better understanding of the relationship between economic and social development. The project will focus on the political prerequisites for the European social model, and how these may be just as important as the economic prerequisites in terms of emerging from the crisis.

Illustration: Shutterstock Will the EU edifice develop cracks in the years to come? (Illustration: Shutterstock) ESOP is one of Norway’s 21 Centres of Excellence.

A more divided Europe?

Much of the research on the EU builds on the assumption that integration in the EU is moving in the same direction. Contrary to this, researchers at ARENA have put forth the hypothesis that the EU is becoming more segmented, and that the various segments have different values and a different understanding of the problems at hand. Should the present crisis actually contribute to such segmentation, we will end up with an EU in which the various member states have different status.

The project seeks to answer the following key questions: What are the consequences of such segmentation for democratisation and stability in the EU member states? Which mechanisms can promote positive development, and which may have a negative effect? What are the ramifications of this unstable trend for Norway’s relationship to the EU?

Written by:
Christian Lund/Else Lie. Translation: Victoria Coleman/Carol B. Eckmann
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