Reconstituting Democracy in Europe (RECON) (completed)

The nation state has been the institutional mainstay of modern democracy. Today, this particular political form is challenged and may be transcended by something new. Can the state form as such be reconstituted in Europe, and if so, at what level? Are alternative forms more viable?

(Photo: European Commission)


Reconstituting Democracy in Europe (RECON) is a large-scale European research project which focuses on the conditions for democracy in the multilevel constellation that makes up the European Union. RECON is initiated and coordinated by ARENA. The project includes 21 partners in 13 European countries as well as New Zealand.


RECON seeks to clarify whether democracy is possible under conditions of pluralism, diversity and complex multilevel governance. The project establishes three models of European democracy, and different options for democratic reconstitution in Europe are delineated and assessed:

  • reframing the EU as a functional regulatory regime and reconstituting democracy at the national level
  • establishing the EU as a multinational federal state
  • developing a post-national Union with an explicit cosmopolitan imprint

RECON assesses which approach to democratisation of the multilevel constellation that makes up the EU is most viable. It does so by investigating:

  • the EU’s protracted constitutionalisation process
  • the institutional complex in Europe
  • the role and status of gender within the enlarged Europe
  • how civil society and the public sphere legitimises/delegitimises the European integration process
  • the democratic quality and governing capacity of the Union within tax and fiscal policy and within foreign and security policy
  • the enlargement process and the consolidation of democracy in the new member states
  • the conditions and prospects of democratisation in transnational arrangements

The aim is also to identify strategies through which democracy can be strengthened and propose measures for rectifying institutional and constitutional defects in different policy areas. RECON’s research thus brings forth knowledge of great relevance for the ongoing process of reforming European and national institutions.


Ongoing research from the project is published in the RECON Online Working Paper Series and the RECON Report Series. See also RECON’s Newsletter. For a comprehensive overview of research activities, publications, events and news, please visit the RECON website.


RECON runs from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2011. The project involves more than 100 researchers from 21 universities and research institutions. They cover a wide range of academic fields, from political science (political theory, international relations, constitutional politics, European politics, gender studies), sociology (including specialist competence in media research), linguistics, anthropology, law and legal theory (constitutional law, human rights law, international and European economic law, transnational law, public law, tax law), to economics, with a particular emphasis on fiscal policy and European public policy.


RECON is an Integrated Project funded by the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme.


RECON partner institutions:
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Austrian Academy of Sciences, ViennaEötvös Loránd University, BudapestEuropean University Institute, FlorenceFreie Universität, BerlinJagiellonian University, KrakowJohann Wolfgang Goethe University, FrankfurtLondon School of Economics and Political SciencePeace Research Institute, FrankfurtQueen’s University, BelfastRiga Graduate School of LawSabanci University, IstanbulSpanish National Research Council, MadridUniversité libre de BruxellesUniversity of AucklandUniversity of BremenUniversity of LeónUniversity of ReadingVrije Universiteit AmsterdamUniversity of Hamburg –  University of Mannheim (affiliated partner)


Published Oct. 1, 2010 3:01 PM - Last modified Sep. 9, 2014 1:47 PM


Project manager
Marit Eldholm

ARENA - Centre for European Research
PO. BOX 1143 Blindern
0318 Oslo