Democracy in the Construction of Europe, 1945 – 2020

18 March 2021
18 -19 March 2021

Where: Online


The multifaceted crisis that has been conditioning Europe over the last 15 years calls for a critical rethinking of European integration history.  The role of democracy in the construction of Europe offers a perfect perspective of such an evolution.
The conference aims at reinterpreting the history of democracy in the European Union by viewing it as a fractured, contested, and negotiated transposition of member states’ national democratic features at the supranational level. At the same time, it aims at understanding how the evolution of European integration and institutions modified democracy at the national level.

Scientific and organizing committee:

  • Sara Lorenzini
  • Umberto Tulli
  • ​Gabriele D'Ottavio


18 March 2021

14.00 – 14.15: Introduction and Welcome

  • Sara Lorenzini (University of Trento)

14.30 – 15.45: Keynote Address

  • Martin Conway (University of Oxford), Historical engrenages? The inter-relationship of European unification and democracy.

16.15 – 18.00: Democracy and the early Integration Process(es)

  • Wolfram Kaiser (University of Portsmouth), Clash of Three Cultures: Transnational Governance in the European Communities
  • Bertrand Vayssière (University of Toulouse), Federalists and the beginnings of the Council of Europe: converting institutions and opinion to supranationality (1949-1951)
  • Mechthild Roos (University of Augsburg), Democratisation through deliberation: The beginnings of the European Parliament

Discussant: Antonio Varsori (University of Padua)

19 March 2021

09.00 – 11.00: European institutions and policies in transition 

  • N. Piers Ludlow (LSE), Creating a rod for its own back – why did the European Commission remain so keen on a stronger European Parliament, 1958-2000
  • Gabriele D’Ottavio (University of Trento), Italian RAI-TV and European Integration in the 1950s: Popularizing the European Project in a Non-Pluralist Media System
  • Umberto Tulli (University of Trento), An Unexpected Problem? The Hague Summit and the democratic deficit
  • Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol (University of Glasgow), The EMU and democratic legitimacy

Discussant: Lorenzo Mechi (University of Padua)

11.30–13.00: Promoting Democracy in the other “Europes” 

  • Carlos López Gómez (Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid), Spanish Democrats toward Europe. The Spanish Transition 
  • Christian Salm (European Parliament Research Service), Setting democratic principles: The European Parliament and the transitions to democracy in Greece, Portugal and Spain in the mid-1970s
  • Benedetto Zaccaria (Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice), The European Commission and the “internal” rationale of the Copenhagen Criteria

Discussant: Alessandra Bitumi (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

15.00 – 17.00: Democratic deficit and legitimacy after the Maastricht Treaty

  • Lukáš Hamřík (Masaryk University, Brno), The personalization of politics in the EU institutions: A threat or an opportunity for the EU governance?
  • Donatella Viola (University of Calabria), The European Parliament and the Democratic Deficit of the European Union
  • Kalipso Nicolaïdis (University of Oxford), Imagining the peoples of Europe

Discussant: Vincent Della Sala (University of Trento)

17.30: Final Roundtable

Chair: Sara Lorenzini (University of Trento)


Free participation upon registration online by 17 March.

Register here, after registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Those who have a UNITN email address are required to register using that address.
We cannot guarantee that pre-registrations received after 17 March will be authorised.