Research Project: The Road to Europe

Undergraduate Summer Research Project

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies is inviting interested undergraduate students to apply for the Institute’s summer 2021 research project: The Road to Europe: Exploring European Union Candidacy in the Balkans.

Interested students should submit their application, including resume and statement of interest of no more than 500 words, here by Wednesday, April 21, at 11:59 pmThe statement of interest should indicate which country the student is interested in researching and any relevant research experience, coursework, or language skills. 

The Road to Europe: Exploring European Union Candidacy in the Balkans

One of the most salient and unique foreign policy tools the European Union possesses is the ability to offer its neighbor countries the possibility of accession to the Union. In 2004, the EU welcomed 10 new member states, 7 of which were a part of the former Eastern Bloc, forever changing the character and trajectory of European integration. Throughout its history, the European Union has used membership as a way to advance its goals and promote norms amongst non-member state countries. Spain was welcomed into the Union only after transitioning from the Franco dictatorship to parliamentary democracy. In 2013, Croatia joined the EU only after complying with wide-ranging stipulations dictated by the EU including, but not limited to, judicial reform, crackdown on corruption and organized crime, the settlement of outstanding refugee issues, and the improvement of human rights protections as a whole.

Since the EU’s inception, each Member State’s road to the union has been different. Reflective of the EU’s priorities at the time and the state of a given country vis-a-vis the EU, the process of ascension is an all encompassing exercise in political, cultural, and economic alignment unlike any other in the contemporary political world. Despite the numerous other challenges the European Union faces today, questions of EU candidacy loom large for the Balkans. This unique geopolitical region has made strides since the violence of the former Yugoslav wars, but there is still much work to be done in terms of peace building, economic advancement, and democratization. The ascension of these countries to the European Union would have profound implications for both the region and the Union. 

This project seeks to add to the current scholarship and research being done on this region and its path to the European Union by investigating six unique countries. The project will explore Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as EU member state candidates, and Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina as potential candidates. 

Students participating in this Nanovic research project will have the opportunity to connect with scholars from these countries as they conduct their research. Each student will be assigned to an individual country and will analyze the country’s progress in adopting EU legislation and the challenges the country faces in doing so. Students will work collaboratively to identify broader regional trends as well as the implications of a Balkan enlargement for the current 27 EU Member States. Students will produce a comprehensive report with chapters on each country as well as individual poster-presentations to be presented at the Nanovic Institute during the fall semester. 

This research project will take place from June 7 to July 16. Students will be compensated at the research assistant rate of $8.75 per-hour. Students can expect to work between 10-15 hours per week on this project. Students may complete this project remotely and are not required to be on the Notre Dame campus for the duration of the project.