Research at ARENA

ARENA is a multidisciplinary and internationally renowned research centre at the University of Oslo. We conduct theoretically oriented and empirically informed basic research on the dynamics of the evolving European political order, primarily the European Union. 

ARENA’s research areas

The traditional model of democratic rule is based on national control and territorial sovereignty. In Europe, this has been supplemented with forms of supranational governance, direct participation and representation.

The EU is an innovative order that seeks to provide solutions to some of the challenges facing the nation state, but at the same time raises questions about how this order ensures effective action and democratic self-determination in a globalised world.

The EU’s multi-level system, with its local, national and supranational elements, represents a unique and ongoing political experiment for research on the conditions for democratic rule and change.

ARENA studies the direction, dynamics and sustainability of the evolving European political order: 

  • What are the basic characteristics and the key components of the new emerging order?
  • What are the implications for member states and for the citizens of Europe?
  • How robust is this new system and what are the conditions for change?
  • How can the multi-level constellation that makes up the EU be assessed from the point of view of democracy and rule of law?

ARENA's research is organised along four key dimensions

A European democratic order

The EU is facing a set of new challenges, which raise questions as to the sustainability of the order in place. In the study of the new configuration of law, economy and democracy, ARENA conducts:

  • Theoretical research on the prospects for democracy beyond the nation-state;
  • Institutional analyses of concrete measures taken to resolve the EU’s democratic deficit;
  • Research on the development of a European constitutional order, and on public contestation and systems of political representation in the multi-level Union;
  • Research on differentiated integration and the nature of the EU's political economy.

The EU’s executive order

ARENA analyses the sustainability of the particular institutional designs of the European political order, the modes of decision-making and its impact in terms of problem solving. ARENA focuses on:

  • The emergence of the Commission as an autonomous executive;
  • The development of EU-level agencies and national agencies as part of a ‘Union administration’;
  • The actual implementation and compliance with EU norms on the domestic level.

Expertise and knowledge

The role of knowledge and expertise in EU institutions and EU decision-making is extensive and increasing. ARENA’s research aims at:

  • Analysing institutional variation and change in the organization of EU expertise, and the role of experts in EU-decision-making, with a particular focus on the Commission's expert groups;
  • Conceptual discussions on expertise and knowledge-based politics;
  • Normative discussions on the legitimate role of expertise in political processes, with a particular focus on implications for democratic theory;
  • Investigating European knowledge politics; key mechanisms, organizational, institutional and societal implications.

European foreign and security policy

The emergence of a common European foreign, security and defence policy has few if any historical precedents. ARENA’s research in this area focuses on:

  • Examining the complex institutional network that regulates this policy field and assessing its legitimacy basis;
  • Investigating to what extent and how it differs from foreign and security policy as we traditionally understand it;
  • Developing a theoretical account of integration and differentiation in the domain.
Published Nov. 8, 2010 6:06 PM - Last modified Jan. 7, 2019 9:32 AM