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Ireland’s decisive choice for Europe: narrative, presence and policy


Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 18:00


Academy House


Full price €10 Concession Price (Student, retired, unemployed) €6.00 Members of the Academy contact

Professor Brigid Laffan will discuss how membership of the EU has become Ireland’s geopolitical anchor.

About the discourse

The texture of Ireland’s membership of the EU was transformed by shifts and shocks in Europe and the wider international system.  Ireland’s traditional preference was to straddle different geopolitical arenas, the European, the UK, the US and the global without having to choose either Berlin or Boston. Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as US President unsettled Ireland’s external environment and its geopolitical anchors.  

In response, Ireland made a decisive choice for Europe. Membership of the European Union (EU) has become Ireland’s geopolitical anchor, its primary mooring in a world of rapid change. When faced with the UK’s choice to exit the EU, the reflex was to cleave to the political and economic framework of a rules based, sovereignty sharing political order.

The discourse will analyse three themes, narrative, Ireland’s presence in the EU and choices about our model of political economy. The address will begin with narrative because the framing of big political events influences how issues are processed and dealt with politically. Second, the focus is on how Ireland responds to an EU without the United Kingdom, a country with which Ireland shared significant preferences. The focus here is on how Ireland positions itself in Europe and the wider world. Third, we will go beyond Brexit to analyse the issues that might dominate Ireland’s membership of the Union in the decades ahead.

About the speaker

Brigid Laffan is Director and Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, an inter-disciplinary research centre at the European University Institute. The Centre’s mission is to contribute to research on the major issues facing contemporary European society. Previously she was Vice-President of UCD and Principal of the College of Human Sciences from 2004 to 2011.

Brigid Laffan is recipient of numerous awards: in 2005 she was elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy and in 2010 received the Ordre nationale du Mérite from the President of the French Republic. Her scholarship has been recognised by the THESEUS Award for Outstanding Research on European Integration in 2012 and the Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to the development of European Studies in 2014 by UACES.

Brigid’s research focuses on the dynamic of European integration. Recent major publications include her co-edited book Core-periphery Relations in the European Union (London: Routledge, 2016, 311pp) and ‘Europe’s Union in Crisis: Tested and Contested’, Special Issue, West European Politics, 2016, 39:5.

Please note late-comers will not be admitted

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