Chair Jean Monnet “The Foundations of European unification: democracy, institutions and policies”

Summer School on EU Legitimacy

7-9 May 2021

Thessaloniki, School of Political Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Event starts:


The aim of the summer school is to look in depth and develop into the increasingly visible issue of the challenges to decisions and policies at EU level on the grounds of lack of legitimacy and insufficient accountability. Elections throughout the EU demonstrate that Eurosceptic parties draw a lot from the perceived illegitimate intromission of the EU bodies into national political systems. This is also the case at European Parliament elections, including the more recent one of May 2019. Many citizens perceive the European level as too bureaucratic and distant from the citizens’ concerns, while some view European policies as arbitrary and undemocratic. Such perceptions played a crucial role in the outcome of the Brexit referendum and continue to influence national views on Europe. The perception of illegitimacy in the EU decisions seems to become the main problem to the further development of the EU and the proposal for the coming European Convention aims, in part, to mend this. The lectures will try to analyze the reasons, the impact and provide possible solutions to the problem of legitimacy.

The summer school will allow students to better understand the reasoning behind the popular reluctance to EU policies and help shape a response to such reasoning. The various guest speakers will analyse the concepts of legitimacy, accountability and democracy and provide useful tools for further analysis. The summer school will be coordinated and introduced by the Chair holder but will include a number of other guest lecturers.

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the summer school will take place in a hybrid form (physical presence in class and online), depending on relevant domestic and EU regulations in place at the time.

Structure and provisional program

The summer school will be held in the form of round tables and working group sessions.

Friday 7 May 2021 (afternoon 14.00)

Welcome and introduction to the objectives of the summer school

Introductory lecture: ‘the perceived ‘democratic deficit’ and the challenge of EU legitimacy’, Ioannis Papageorgiou

Round table 1: EU legitimacy – the role of institutional actors. How can EU (and national) institutions increase legitimacy

  • The transnational lists for the European elections – a way to build European parties? Professor Hermann Schmitt, Research Fellow, Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung
  • The Spitzenkandidaten – can we make the European democracy more parliamentary? Ioannis Papageorgiou, Associate Professor, Department of Political Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • What is the role of national parliaments in the ‘parliamentarisation’ of the EU institutions?

(afternoon 17.00)


Working group session 1. Building a European public space – is it feasible? The significance of the Convention on the future of Europe.

Saturday 8 May 2021 (morning 10.00)

Round table 2: EU legitimacy – the role of citizens. How can we increase the legitimacy of decisions and accountability of actors through more direct citizens’ involvement?

  • Direct legislative initiatives – the role of the European Citizens’ Initiative
  • Digital tools for citizen engagement, Katrin Nyman Metcalf, Professor, Tallin University of Technology
  • The role of interest groups – intermediation and policy influence at European level, Filippa Chatzistavrou, Assistant Professor,  National and Kapodistrian of University of Athens

(afternoon 14.00).

Working group session 2.

a. Can social media be a tool to build a European digital space? Dealing with trust and social media: how has our perceptions of democracy and legitimacy been influenced by social media?

b. How to reinforce social and public interest groups policy influence thus improving EU legitimacy?

Sunday 9 May 2021 (morning 10.00)

Round table 3: EU legitimacy – the role of policies. How can EU policies increase legitimacy?

  • increased European solidarity– what is the impact of constructing a European transfer union? George Andreou, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Increased European solidarity – the visibility of a common European policies in foreign affairs and defense/security
  • Increased European solidarity – the post-covid transformations

(afternoon 14.00). Working group session 3. The concept of a ‘Europe that delivers’ – strategic autonomy and its impact on legitimacy. How to increase legitimacy through specific actions of the EU in strengthening Europe’s impact on citizens.

Conclusions. George Andreou

Target group and working language


The summer school is offered in English to a maximum of 50 participants (students from the Department of Political Sciences, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and international students and practitioners.

Participants should register before 15 April 2021. See relevant form.