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The Rutger Lindahl Award for Best Master Thesis in European Studies

The Rutger Lindahl Award for Best Master Thesis in European Studies is granted each year to a thesis examined within the Master's Programme for European Studies at the University of Gothenburg. The aim of the award is to acknowledge and encourage research on Europe and European integration among master's students at the University of Gothenburg. Inaugurated in 2011, the award was established in honour of the Jean Monet Professor Rutger Lindahl to celebrate his lifelong engagement in research and teaching about European integration.

The award is handed out to the winning student each year at the Graduation Ceremony in October, and the winner till received a prize of 10,000 SEK as well as having the paper published in the CERGU Working Paper Series.

Nominations to the award are done by thesis supervisors and graders. The nominations will then be discussed by CES grading committee. The final decision is made the the Programme Board of the European Studies Programmes.

Winners of the Rutger Lindahl Award for Best Master Thesis in European Studies


2019       Daniel Bichler

EU MIGRATION AS A DISTANT ROOT OF BREXIT? The Synthetic Control Method Applied to Euroscepticism in the UK


In his thesis, the author conceptualizes EU migration as an underlying reason for British Euroscepticism, which is a very timely and relevant subject. The thesis empirically tests the effect of the EU-8 migration inflow to the UK following the Eastern Enlargement in 2004 on public support for European integration in the British electorate by applying an innovative method specifically designed for small-N comparative case studies – the synthetic control approach. With a theoretically well-grounded foundation, the innovative analytical and methodological approach offers a valuable contribution to two research fields. Firstly, by expanding accounts on Euroscepticism with theoretical arguments on public responsiveness, it explores the effect of an outcome of a concrete policy decision on public support for European integration. It thereby provides a new framework for understanding Brexit by explaining the magnitude and persistence of Eurosceptic views in the British public. Secondly, the thesis contribute more broadly to the methodological discussion in the research field of public responsiveness. By the contra-factual synthetic control approach, the thesis presents a way forward for statistically identifying public responsiveness.

2018       Lucie Buttkus

The European Union and China in the Economic Security Challenge


The MAES-thesis ‘The European Union and China in the Economic Security Challenge’ by Lucie Buttkus, is proposed for The Rutger Lindahl Award 2018. Lucie’s thesis examines the EU-China trade relationship from the theoretical perspective of realism, with an emphasis on the importance of anarchy and trust for this strategic partnership. Trade is an area of European integration that has historically been difficult empirical terrain for realist theory, but Lucie’s thesis makes a careful and compelling case for its usefulness in understanding the dynamics of the EU and China’s blend of cooperation and competition in the realm of trade over the first two decades of the 21st century. The thesis therefore stands out for its innovative and productive application of a theoretical framework developed and most often tested in security studies within the context of EU trade policy. Lucie uses a game theoretical framework to generate testable hypotheses, which she then examines via qualitative process tracing of documents recorded within the World Trade Organization. The resulting thesis is outstanding in the quality of its social scientific research and directly addresses the strategic relationship between two large economic powers that will be of increasing relevance in the future. It is an ideal combination of theoretical and methodological rigor and policy-relevant research.


2017          Louise Warenius

Sustainable Capitalism in the Making? The Marshallian Citizenship Conceptualisation Expanded in a European Circular Economy


This thesis sets out to develop T.H. Marshall’s legendary theorization on the civil, political and social citizenships by adding the concept of a circular economy as a special criterion. The theoretical discussion is thorough and seizes the major positions in the scholarly debate. Introducing circular economy from varying perspectives, and its connection to civil rights, the thesis conveys well-thought arguments for integrating the concept of circular economy with the Marshallian citizenship theorization, rather than suggesting a development of a new citizenship theory. The theory development results in an analytical framework which is applied to the circular economy policy documents stemming from the European Commission, and member states of the EU. The analysis of the empirical data shows the relevance of the framework and furthers the theory development by adding phenomena – such as geopolitics – to the Marshallian citizenship theorization. In this sense, empirical analysis and theory development are conducted and interrelated in an exemplary manner. Overall this is overall a solid work that reaches a high scholarly standard. The thesis convincingly presents significant and independent scholarly contribution to the theoretical development of the conceptualization of citizenship. The theory-grounded analytical framework as well as the application on European policy documents for the promotion of circular economy is of great relevance for the field of European Studies as well as for research that focus on sustainability, climate change or climate change mitigation. The thesis is well structured, eloquently written, and gives evidence of a transparent and self-critical attitude.

2016          Julian Dederke

Not Indicted, and Yet They Do Care - Why EU Governments file Observations to Cases before the ECJ


This thesis addresses a blank spot in the research on legal integration in Europe, namely the role of member state governments in the preliminary reference procedure of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). Dederke argues that while previous research has found that governments’ participation matter to the decisions of the CJEU, there is large variation in the willingness of governments to participate in the procedure. The research question he addresses therefore is how to explain when and why governments decide to participate and contribute to the development of EU case law. In order to generate hypotheses Dederke fruitfully turns to the American judicial politics literature. Furthermore, he finds an ingenious way of solving the tricky question of operationalizing ‘political preferences’, by combing two datasets on decision making in the Council and the CJEU. He finds that political preferences and legal considerations both contribute to the decision to participate in the court procedures. His research contributes to important normative questions regarding the role of non-majoritarian institutions in European integration. The quality of his work is indicated also by the fact that the thesis was selected for, and presented at, the most important political science conference in Europe, the ECPR General Conference in Prague, 8-10 September 2016, and that it has contributed to give him a position as a PhD student at the most prestigious university in Switzerland (ETH).

2015         Christina Schmahl

Reconsidering the EU's 'Democratic Deficit' - A Deliberative Perspective 


The thesis is an original, theory-driven reconsideration of the long-lasting question on whether and how the EU suffers from a ‘democratic deficit’. It is argued that the EU should be treated as an entity sui generis, and that the democracy deficit question should be explored accordingly. Inspired by the German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas the thesis sets out from a deliberative democracy theory perspective, and develops an innovative analytical framework based on the normative cornerstones of deliberative theory. Operationalized as ten minimal necessary conditions for a deliberative democratic political system, the analytical framework is then applied to the economic governance structure of the EU that evolved in the course of the Eurozone crisis. It is concluded that these demanding criteria are not satisfactorily met by the EU, since only two of ten conditions are fulfilled, and thus, that the EU suffers from a ‘deliberative deficit’. The distinguishing strength of the work lies in its theoretical import. While Christina profoundly grounds her work in previous research, she convincingly presents highly original, dedicated, and independent theorization of the political system of the EU, and its democratic potentials and deficiencies. Consequently, her work represents a significant scholarly contribution to the research of the democracy deficit in the EU.

2014        Maj Gustafsson

A Political Bellwether? The European Commission’s Interaction with the Court of Justice of the European Union under the Preliminary Ruling Procedure


The thesis examines the role of the Commission in the legal order of the European Union (EU), and is of clear relevance to European Studies by deepening our understanding of two pivotal EU institutions. Focusing particularly on the EU’s migration and asylum policy, the thesis combines relevance for European studies with policy questions that are of great political and social importance for Europe today. The author interrogates the ‘political bellwether’ understanding of the Commission’s interaction with the Court of Justice in the preliminary ruling procedure by asking if the Commission’s written observations are best understood as an indicator of political acceptability among the member states, or as developing EU law, and if the process of arriving at the Commission’s position in a preliminary ruling is driven primarily by political or legal considerations. The author tests the arguments with an innovative and original qualitative research design focusing on three cases from EU migration and asylum policy, “most likely” cases for when we would expect to see the Commission’s position act as a proxy for what is acceptable to the member states. The author conducted five semi-structured interviews with civil servants working in the Commission to generate original and informative data for analysis. The results support the author’s theoretical argument that the Commission does not act as a political bellwether in the preliminary ruling procedure, and the author integrates these findings with broader theoretical discussions in contemporary research on the political-legal aspects of European integration. This new primary research is well structured, eloquently written, and casts light on what would have been a more opaque political process between the Commission and the Court without this thesis.

2013        Hans-William Ressel

Regulatory reform on the European gas market Does it make a difference?


The infrastructure for distribution of natural gas in Europe gives returns to scale; therefore it could be argued that the gas market could have a tendency to develop into a natural monopoly. A privately managed private monopoly could be expected to have negative welfare effects due to high prices and low quality. Anticipating these potential negative welfare effects, during the last two decades regulatory measures has been employed by the EU to increase competition. Unbundling of energy companies stands out as one of the most important. This thesis analyses whether there is a causal relation between EU’s unbundling reforms and the price levels of gas. The thesis contributes an original combination of the economic theories of price mechanisms, with the concept of natural monopolies. Drawing on this theorization, it gives a well-written account of previous studies, which is especially meriting since it bring together otherwise separated research on prices of electricity and natural gas in Europe and the world. Empirically the thesis builds on a panel data model, based on fixed effects regressions, deploying Eurostat statistics. This model is sophisticated, and the author shows awareness of the model’s limitations. The result of the analysis resembles previous research, namely that there is no significant effect of the unbundling reforms on the prices. The only independent variable that has effects on the price of gas is the oil price. This leads to the conclusion that the natural gas market, until now, has been too dependent on the larger oil market to constitute a natural monopoly. Bringing together previously separate research, contributing original theorization and operationalization, deploying a very suitable and advanced statistical method on new large-N data, presenting a stringent very readable text which give evidence of a transparent and self-critical intellectual attitude, this thesis is a substantial academic input to the research on EU reforms for promoting competitiveness.

2012        Maria Forslund

For Better or for Worse? Happiness among unemployed in 19 European countries - The effect of the economic crisis of 2008


This thesis studies the effect of unemployment on individual well-being, assessing how this effect is moderated by economic crises. The thesis finds that the economic crisis, with its rising unemployment rates, reduces the negative effect of unemployment on individual happiness/life-satisfaction. Maria argues that rising unemployment rates in Europe lead to a ‘normalization’ of unemployment, thus reducing the social stigma of joblessness. While this topic is obviously highly relevant in contemporary Europe, the thesis uses its timeliness to a striking methodological advantage. The thesis is outstanding in its use of the economic crisis in Europe as a “natural experiment”, studying individual attitudes before and during the onset of the crisis. The analysis is based on large-N quantitative methods, and applies sophisticated multi-level modelling techniques, which are very appropriate for the given data structure and research question. The distinguishing strength of the work, however, lies in its theoretical import. While Maria profoundly grounds her work in previous research, she convincingly presents an unexpected theoretical argument -- namely that increased levels of unemployment may in fact improve individual life-satisfaction. Consequently, her work represents a significant scholarly contribution to the research of the social and individual consequences of economic crisis and unemployment.

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 12/9/2019

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