Lead partner: UCD, University College Dublin

Research team: Roland Erne, Graham Finlay, Imre Szabó, Darragh Golden

Research Results

Szabó, I. G., Golden, D. and Erne, R. (2021) 'Why Do some Labour Alliances Succeed in Politicizing Europe Across Borders? A Comparison of the Right2Water and Fair Transport European Citizens' Initiatives'. Journal of Common Market Studies, DOI: 10.1111/jcms.13279. (ABS 3)

Abstract: Under what conditions can organized labour successfully politicize the European integration process across borders? To answer this question, we compare the European Citizens' Initiatives (ECIs) of two European trade union federations: EPSU's successful Right2Water ECI and ETF's unsuccessful Fair Transport ECI. Our comparison reveals that actor-centred factors matter – namely, unions' ability to create broad coalitions. Successful transnational labour campaigns, however, also depend on structural conditions, namely, the prevailing mode of EU integration pressures faced by unions at a given time. Whereas the Right2Water ECI pre-emptively countered commodification attempts by the European Commission in water services, the Fair Transport ECI attempted to ensure fair working conditions after most of the transport sector had been liberalized. Vertical EU integration attempts that commodify public services are thus more likely to generate successful transnational counter-movements than the horizontal integration pressures on wages and working conditions that followed earlier successful EU liberalization drives.

Read more: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jcms.13279


Lead partner: University of Belgrade

Research team: Jelisaveta Petrović, Jelena Pešić

Research Results

Pešić J., Vukelić J. (2022), 'Europeanisation from below at the semi-periphery: the movement against small hydropower in Serbia'. Sociologija, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2298/SOC2201005P

Abstract: This paper focuses on Let’s Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina, a local environmental initiative that has managed to scale up and transnationalise (Europeanise) from below and to generate sufficient pressure on national power-holders to amend existing legislation and halt further construction of small hydropower plants in protected natural areas. Linking the concepts of environmentalism of the poor/dispossessed and the transnationalisation (Europeanisation) of environmental protests through the example of Serbian protests against small hydropower plants, we explore how a local movement grew out of a tradition of non-politicised everyday environmentalism, transformed into a rebellion of the dispossessed and then tried to organise at both national and transnational level, using assistance from EU institutions and international environmental organisations to leverage national authorities and developers, while at the same time remaining critical of certain EU environmental policies and practices. This study is based on discursive analysis of the content posted to the official Facebook group and website of Let’s Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina.

Read morehttp://www.sociologija.org/admin/published/2022_64/1/752.pdf 


Lead partner: Scuola Normale Superiore

Research team: Donatella della PortaChiara Milan, Federico Alagna, Chiara Martini

Research Results

Chiara Milan & Luisa Chiodi,  (2022), Grassroots European Solidarity. Italian Solidarity Movements in the Western Balkans in the 1990s and 2020s and Their Visions of Europe, Southeastern Europe n.46 pp. 248–270


This article investigates how the idea of European solidarity and the vision of Europe changed over time amongst Italian groups and individuals engaged in solidarity actions in support of Internally Displaced Persons (idp s) and refugees in the Western Balkans in the 1990s and 2020s. By means of document analysis and in-depth qualitative interviews, the article shows that individuals partaking in solidarity initiatives framed their action as European grassroots solidarity, enacted to replace the institutional solidarity that the EU failed to offer. While solidarity groups in the 1990s saw the EU-in-the-making as alternative to the power politics of member states worsening the conflicts in the region, those mobilising in the 2020s expressed a more critical and disenchanted vision characterised by rage, disillusionment, and disappointment towards an EU perceived as having betrayed its ideal foundations while dealing with migration along the Balkan route.

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Lead partner: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Research team: Aron Buzogány, Patrick Scherhaufer

Research Results

Adam Fagan & Aron Buzogány (2022) Beyond Europeanization: political ecology and environmentalism in Central and Eastern Europe, Environmental Politics, 31:7, 1203-1213

Abstract: The legacy of Europeanization was a battery of laws, formal mechanisms for compliance and regulation, and institutionalised access for non-state actors. Despite a decade of so-called ‘democratic backsliding’, EU environmental standards and policy remain as normative benchmarks for all countries across the region. The new member states are no clear outliers in terms of compliance even if they have a tendency to support less green climate and energy legislation at the EU level. Yet civil society autonomy and freedom to operate have been severely constrained in most of the states of the region, resulting in ‘shrinking spaces’ for civil society actors that are critical of de-democratizing tendencies. The EU has been sharply criticised for failing to protect the liberal democratic order in the region. Indeed, if the EU conjures a reaction within protests and actions of civil society and social movements, it is mostly with negative connotations, such as failure to hold domestic elites to account or encouraging mega-developments. All of this suggests that, over 30 years since environmental activism first came to political prominence in the region, there is a need to re-engage with a host of domestic factors that had become somewhat obfuscated by the emphasis on Europeanization.

Read more: 10.1080/09644016.2022.2147652


Aron Buzogány (2022): Natural Allies? External Governance and Environmental Civil Society Organizations in the EU’s Eastern Partnership

Abstract: Civil society networks have received little attention when it comes to sectoral analysis of adaptation of EU rules beyond borders. This article offers a remedy by conceptualizing EU influence as an opportunity structure, a resource, and a discursive frame used by civil society organizations. Empirically, it describes how EU rules are used to support environmental reforms by civil society networks in Georgia and Ukraine. Civil society activism and mobilization can lead to high levels of policy approximation despite weak sectoral conditionality, entrenched domestic interests, and low public salience.

Read more: https://doi.org/10.1080/10758216.2021.2025404


Aron Buzogány, Patrick Scherhaufer (2022): Framing different energy futures? Comparing Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion in Germany

Abstract: Combining research on sociotechnical imaginaries and social movements, this contribution examines how two major actors of the climate justice movement active in Germany – Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion – frame the discourse on climate change and just transitions. We focus on narratives of both movements and their justification strategies based on the analysis of frames. Using material produced by the two movements, the paper comparatively analyses the movement’s frames on social, political, economic and epistemic orders. The results suggest that the two groups are part of the same discursive community but emphasize different aspects of just energy futures.

Read more: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2022.102904


Aron Buzogány, Szabina Kerényi & Gergely Olt (2022): Back to the grassroots? The shrinking space of environmental activism in illiberal Hungary, Environmental Politics, DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2022.2113607

Abstract: This article illustrates the post-euphoric development of the environmental movement in the period since 2010 that was marked by democratic backsliding and the consolidation of ‘illiberalism’ in Hungary. Embedded from a historical perspective that spans the last three decades, we present two case studies of urban environmental mobilisation and identify ‘localization’, the reorientation towards grassroot activism, as a new trend driven by the closure of political opportunity structures. Localization combines with the alienation of protesters from institutional channels of influence-seeking and the weakening of ties with potential political allies, such as political parties or professionalised NGOs, and the increase of mistrust between the different actors

Read more: https://doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2022.2113607