The notions of justice and democracy are at the centre of many academic as well as societal and political debates about Europe, European solidarity, and the future of the EU. These debates commonly revolve around the continuing political narrative that the EU has a deficit in both of these areas.
ICES conducts and supports research in a broad range of issues arising within the societal structures and political institutions of the European Union and in Europe more generally. One focal point in this axis is the interdisciplinary study of democratic institutions, both legitimisation and representation, within the EU and (in a comparative perspective) at state and sub-state levels. This includes empirical investigations into the specific setup and dynamics of democratic bodies and procedures as well as normative investigations into the legitimacy and adequacy of these procedures. A second focal point in this axis consists of exploring alleged justice deficits within the EU (or Europe). This refers both to the sense that the diagnosis of a justice deficit concerns the insufficient harmonisation of criminal justice systems in the EU and wider Europe, but also the sense of deficits regarding social justice. The latter is concerned with divergent developments across Europe regarding indicators such as inequality, social exclusion, poverty, the provision of education and health care, and intergenerational justice.
With this in mind, ICES promotes research and critical debate on justice and democracy with respect to structural and normative dimensions of contemporary European society and politics. We thereby seek to unite research questions and methods from sociology, political science, jurisprudence, and political philosophy.