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Blueprints of Hope


Since its inception the European integration project has been contested. Against the backdrop of the two World Wars, the financial and economic crisis of the 1930s ideas developed for a future European order.

Analyzing different blueprints for Europe that were present in the period leading up to the institutional start-up of the EU, this project aims to show why some blueprints came to dominate  the development of the European Union, while other blueprints were rejected. So, why did some “ideas of Europe” win and did others loose?

Against notions of European integration as a purely economic project resulting from interstate bargaining, this project expands the existing historiography of the EU’s early integration in three ways:

  • a wider time frame: rather than taking 1945 as its starting point, this research takes seriously the initiatives that were developed already in the interwar period
  • a wider range of actors: this research project focuses on transnational political, clerical and economic networks
  • a broader understanding of ideas.

Conceptualizing blueprints as consisting of both moral principles, ideas about a political order and proposals for particular economic instruments, this project aims to explicate underlying emotive and moral considerations

With the 60-year anniversary of the European Coal- and Steel Community coming up in March 2017, this research project provides a timely analysis of the diversity of ideas of “what is Europe” in the early years of European integration. Moreover, it may engage with today’s discussions about “what is Europe”  at a time when the foundations of the European integration project are increasingly questioned.

Subproject 1 – Spiritual Blueprints for Europe

This PhD-project looks into the transnational ecumenical movement to explore how key actors in these networks contributed to the thinking about a new European order. To this end, the archives of the World Council of Churches, the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs and the Ecumenical Commission for European Cooperation will be analyzed.

Subproject 2 – Economic Blueprints for Europe

This PhD-project focuses on the blueprints initiatives that were undertaken in the context of Anglo-American cooperation and European market-integration. It aims to connect the emergence of the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Payments Union and the Bretton Woods system by focusing on the intellectual discussions among influential economists and policy-makers.

Subproject 3 – The battle of Blueprints

This postdoc-project maps the different coalitions and networks that advanced particular blueprints to assess why European integration took off in May 1950 and why it took the form it did up to the present day. This research entails the qualitative content analysis of archival resources and a network analysis of the relationship among political, clerical and economic actors.