Europe's economic transformations: Actors of a changing European economy

Europe's economic transformations: Actors of a changing European economy

History of European Integration Research Society (HEIRS); Marta Alorda Carreras, Department for History and Civilization, European University Institute, Florence; Dorothea Todd, Economic & Social History, University of Glasgow
United Kingdom
From - Until
05.05.2021 - 06.05.2021
Dorothea Todd, Economic & Social History (School of Social and Political Sciences), University of Glasgow

The economic dimension is a crucial aspect of European integration. The 17th HEIRS Conference aims to assess the role of state- and non-state actors in the economic transformations related to European integration, and to discuss methodological and conceptual challenges associated with the investigation of economic transformations connected to integration initiatives in the history of European cooperation and integration from the 1950s onwards.

Europe's economic transformations: Actors of a changing European economy

From the very beginning, the economic dimension was a central element of European integration. Initiatives like the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the creation of a customs union in the European Economic Community (EEC) and the formation of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) were not only of political but also of economic nature and transformed the European economy in many ways. The evolution from a customs union to a single market, and the growth in membership considerably changed how the goods and capital market operated in the EEC and later the European Union (EU), both on the European as well as the national level. Similarly, European-level public policies transformed the rules and performance of certain economic sectors, such as the Common Agriculture Policy or competition policy. The study of the causes and consequences of European economic integration is essential to understand the functioning of the EEC/EU and European politics.

This conference aims to assess the role of state- and non-state actors in Europe’s economic transformations. Actors who were both pushing for, as well as impacted by, the economic consequences of European economic integration will be the lens through which economic initiatives will be examined. The analysis of non-state actors’ behaviour over the last decades has revealed new perspectives on the history of European integration. The influence of business, firms and economic elites (both national and transnational) in economic integration has received initially greater attention from historiography (Rollings 2008; Ramírez 2010). In addition to exploring their role as promoters or detractors of economic integration, the economic consequences for and the responses of these non-state actors to the establishment of some EC initiatives were assessed (Rollings and Warlouzet 2020). As well as from business and firms, other works have looked into the role of farmers (Knudsen 2009), banks (Drach 2020) or trade unions (Petrini 2013).

Likewise, nation-states seeking EEC memberships have played an important role as actors of economic transformation in the European integration process which must not be forgotten. Enlargement rounds have normally acted as catalysts for changes in the internal socio-economic structure of the EEC/EU, by widening and deepening the market of goods and services and forced older member states to launch internal reforms to smooth the impact of a territorial expansion (Kaiser and Elvert 2004). The market and territorial expansion, together with free movement of people, have facilitated citizens of the EEC to play an indirect but increasingly important role as consumers, migrants or travellers, thus shaping the economy through their activities.

The 17th HEIRS Conference aims to assess the role of actors in the economic transformations related to European integration. Furthermore, the conference aims to discuss methodological and conceptual challenges associated with the investigation of economic transformations (and the impact of/on actors involved) connected to integration initiatives in the history of European cooperation and integration from the 1950s onwards. We are pleased to have Laurent Warlouzet, professor for European history at Paris Sorbonne Université, as keynote speaker.

We invite papers dealing with research questions that include (but are not limited to) the following topics:
- Business and economic change. This could focus on the contribution of business actors (national or transnational) to economic changes caused by integration initiatives, or on how economic changes improved or hindered business operations.
- The influence of trade unions as proactive and reactive agents of EC economic integration.
- The role of workers and/or firms of economic sectors touched by the formation of European public policies.
- Enlargement of the EEC/EU as a force of EC economic transformations and internal reforms, as well as the impact of (intended) joining on the national economy. This could also be looked at from an opposite perspective of the consequences of a country leaving or a membership candidate not becoming a member.
- Economic thought as an agent of change. The impact of economic ideas on economic transformation and European integration initiatives.
- The role and rise of new social movements, like environmentalism, in economic transformations and initiatives.
- Historiographical challenges of investigating economic transformations of the EC (its causes and consequences), as well as of addressing the role of different actors.

PhD students (at any point of their research) and early postdoctoral researchers are invited to submit an abstract of 250 words and a short CV by 14 March 2021 to both Dorothea Todd at and Marta Alorda at This conference will take place online on 5-6 May 2021. Notices of acceptance will be sent by mid-March 2021. Participants will be asked to send an extended version of their abstracts (other types of documents, like research plans or presentation slides, will be accepted) by 16 April 2021.

The History of European Integration Research Society (HEIRS) is a postgraduate student network. HEIRS aims at fostering the collaboration and interaction of postgraduate researchers across Europe with an interest in European integration history.


Wednesday 5 May

11:30-11:45 Welcome remarks: Dorothea Todd (University of Glasgow), Marta Alorda (European University Institute)

11:45-13:00 PANEL 1 – Enlargement and national perspectives

Luboš Studený (Charles University): Building capitalism on socialist ground: Continuity of economic thought in the late-socialist and post-communist Czechoslovakia

Guillermo Antuña Martínez (University of Barcelona): An international way-out: the Asturian metal-mechanic sector facing European integration

Stefania Rampello (University of Rome “Sapienza”): The United Kingdom, Italy and the idea of a Free Trade Area in Western Europe at the end of the Fifties: Plan G and Carli Plan

Discussant: Dr. Christos Tsakas (The Danish Institute at Athens)

13:00-15:00 Lunch break

15:00-16:15 PANEL 2 – Social history

Marc Steiert (European University Institute): The Youth and Work: Europe as a new horizon? A Story of How the European Economic Community Missed an Opportunity to Transform Young Work

Alessandra Maria Schimmel (Utrecht University): A common market, a consumers’ market? Consumers and the economic integration of Europe in the 1970s

Discussant: Dr. Grace Ballor (Harvard Business School)

Thursday 6 May
10:00-11:15 PANEL 3 – Economic thought

Naomi Woltring (Utrecht University) and Karin van Leeuwen (Maastricht University): ‘Ordering’ the economy through competition, in two episodes. Two Dutch policymakers and their interventions in a changing European economy

Pierre Alayrac (Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales): A (Sociological) Cost-Benefit Analysis of Cost-Benefit Analysis. Economicization, Neoliberalization and Internal Market Policies in the European Commission since the 1970s

Anselm Küsters (Max Planck Institute): Answering Bork with Distant Reading: A Corpus-Linguistic Analysis of EU Competition Law and Policy (1961-2021)

Discussant: Dr. Koen van Zon (Utrecht University)

11:15-12:15 Final Lecture: Prof. Laurent Warlouzet (Paris Sorbonne Université): Concluding remarks: free-market, neoliberal and social Europe

All times are in Central European Summer Time

Contact (announcement)

Dorothea Todd,
Marta Alorda,
Editors Information
Published on
Temporal Classification
Regional Classification
Additional Informations

Country Event
Language Event