All there is to know about ENLIGHTEN

The ‘European Legitimacy in Governing through Hard Times: the role of European Networks’ (ENLIGHTEN) project (2015-2018) is funded by the Horizon 2020 EU programme and gathers 8 partners from all over Europe in Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (4 universities and 4 non-profit organisations).

Over the last five years the European Union has faced financial crises, acute imbalances, problems of macro-economic coordination, structural reform, questions of long-term fiscal sustainability and ‘rule of law’ crises. These complex and interconnected problems have pushed the limits of existing European modes of governance. As a result the efficiency and legitimacy of European integration mechanisms are being questioned just as the EU faces an unprecedented array of political challenges. In order to deal with these difficulties, the EU has both created new modes of governance and restructured existing ones. Assessing the need for ‘more or less Europe’ becomes increasingly challenging as the architecture of these modes of governance becomes more complicated.

The ENLIGHTEN project is concerned with the legitimacy of European governance in dealing with what we call fast and slow-burning crises. Fast burning crises are readily identified – they are the political and economic shocks of recent years. In slow-burning crises the political, social, and economic challenges are long-term and widespread, but do not generate immediate political attention. In these ‘crises’, such as the sustainability of our fiscal systems, the ageing of our populations, and lack of public investment in areas like housing, expert networks are important in defining problems and how they should be treated. The ENLIGHTEN research team are investigating both fast- and slow-burning crises in the following areas:

Those crises will be analyzed through the prism of four aspects of the European “governance architecture”, which includes:

  • Modes of governance
  • Associated expert networks
  • Policy instruments
  • Legitimizing narratives

The objectives of the ENLIGHTEN project are therefore to:

  • Map how European institutions and expert networks handle crises
  • Differentiate how European modes of governance relate to crises
  • Articulate what modes of governance are best suited to addressing crises

The project products include among others several academic contributions, scientific and policy events, an online documentary and a summer school aimed at various audiences (academics, policy-makers, youth, etc.) which related content will be all uploaded on this website. Welcome!