The opening plenary session started on the same impressive multi-disciplinary note as the first day of the conference. Headline contributors included EU legal scholar Dagmar Schiek and economist Malcolm Sawyer – both from the University of Leeds – as well as Dermot Hodson and Fabian Amtembrink. Unlike the more controversial plenary from Monday morning on euroscepticism, this offered a sobering assessment of the economic crisis and its consequences for capitalist societies and the role of EU governance in the continent’s current problems.
The rest of day also had a strong Leeds presence in the sessions I sat in. Greg Barnes of Leeds shared a panel with Zhang He of Bradford University. Barnes presented an important paper on the hugely important yet neglected subject of EU public procurement law. He surveyed the research problems presented by the perceptions of national authorities’ procurement use and the reality in the regulations’ relevance and how this affects the policy paradigm. This is not a problem reserved to public procurement policy, but given the number of regulatory issues procurement bumps into it is clear that this is a research agenda that needs to be better tapped. Zhang He’s presentation took a novel approach to a far more popular subject – Monetary Union. His econometrics-laced approach made for an interesting discussion in a room made up predominantly of lawyers and political scientists. It also left an unspoken consensus in the room that the Euro’s present problems probably cannot be sufficiently remedied.
The next session I attended brought with it another popular research agenda: EU energy policy. The presence of different sorts of theory, including politico-legal theory towards energy policy being framed by notions of intergenerational justice (by Elizabeth Monaghan), and a ‘Normative Europe’ theoretical approach to EU-China energy cooperation (by Lea Pilsner of Leeds) side-by-side forged interesting discussion.
I was pleased to get another good view of EU studies’ interdisciplinary strengths on day two. I was also very pleased with the opening plenary session this morning and to sample some strong work on EMU without getting overkill on one of the more popular topics in current European integration discourse.
Looking forward to the final day of a really good conference.