“Bottom-up” Europeanization and Transnational Civil Society Collaboration: Examples from the Refugee Crisis

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Katharina CREPAZ, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy and Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany
The ongoing refugee crisis has been characterized by an overwhelming amount of tragedy, and the EU’s inability and partially also lack of political will to find a fitting solution for the problem. As attempts to reach an agreement on a quota system fail, and as more and more people make their way through different EU member states, civil society has become an active player in the public reception and evaluation of the issue, especially through the use of social media. While the lack of a European public sphere is often criticized, activists are creating and using this sphere for their projects. People willing to engage are able to connect in a low-threshold, local, and interactive way, while also keeping connected to similar movements in other EU countries. This process of connection and collaboration can be regarded as an instance of “bottom-up” Europeanization processes, in which national and subnational actors work together transnationally to reach a common goal. Social media as fora for exchange allow efficient communication, present a possibility to directly lobby the decision makers (e.g. local politicians), and provide an apt tool for the planning of collective actions. The present paper aims to look at how “bottom-up” Europeanization and new possibilities for collaboration through the internet as a transnational, open forum for discussion have influenced public debate over the recent months, as well as if and how a transnationally connected civil society may also be able to lobby the European level for a common approach to the issue.