Our Story

Maastricht, Working on Europe (MWOE)

Based at Studio Europa in the heart of the city, Maastricht, Working on Europe is a joint programme by the Province of Limburg, the City of Maastricht and Maastricht University.

Our aim is to position Maastricht as a meeting place for citizen dialogue and debate and establish a Centre of Excellence for research on Europe and European integration. In short: a workplace for a better Europe. For everyone.

Our programme consists of three branches: a strategic research agenda; thought-provoking and inspiring events; and the European Heritage Label for the Maastricht Treaty.

Our mission is to stimulate active, critical debate with citizen engagement at its core.

Why Maastricht?

Since 1992 the city’s been inextricably linked with Europe as the Maastricht Treaty sealed Europeans’ commitment to develop our collective identity. The signing of this milestone for European integration started a great, dynamic experiment, which carries on to this day.

While the Treaty may be the city’s claim to fame, Maastricht’s European character is more than just symbolic. This is where Europeans come together to work on that experiment. To think, debate, discuss and dream. To make this shared vision a reality.

This is not a coincidence. Maastricht has always been a city defined by (crossing) borders. For centuries it’s been a melting pot of cultures where different peoples meet, trade, cooperate and, from time to time, wholeheartedly disagree.

It remains a forum for culture and commerce to this day, and the impact of the surrounding Dutch-, French- and German-speaking industrial and cultural hubs is felt everywhere. At work, at play and in education.

This confluence continually gives rise to new opportunities, new questions and new ideas.

European Heritage Label and Archive

Because of its monumental importance for the Europe we live in today, the European Commission awarded the Maastricht Treaty (1991/1992) the European Heritage Label. The Maastricht Treaty changed the way Europeans live and work together, introducing among others the Euro as a common currency and a common European citizenship. The treaty is a true symbol of European ideals, values, history and integration.

Maastricht, Working on Europe is committed to bring to life the European narrative and the history behind the Maastricht Treaty, and the impact it has on your life as a European citizen. Today and in the future. To make you aware of the impact, Maastricht, Working on Europe organises a wide range of events and educational activities, with special attention for young people.

Here you can learn more about the selection of the Maastricht Treaty as one of the 38 European Heritage sites.

Activities related to the Heritage Label

Amongst others we have established a European archive, together with Regional Historic Center Limburg. This archive aims at collecting and providing easy access to the relevant historical sources concerning the Maastricht Treaty: the political background and negotiation of the treaty and the evolution of European politics and cooperation since 1992. This archive will become a focal point for many educational projects for all kinds of audiences.

Our European integration cartoon competition invites both the professional and the amateur, the young and the old, to comment with thought provoking and hilarious cartoons on the workings of the EU today: the Europe created with the Maastricht Treaty.

Research Agenda

Research and education at Maastricht University are thematic, multidisciplinary, and inspired by themes with societal relevance.

Under the title ‘Europe in the Globalising World’, we focus on questions concerning the character and the direction of the European integration process and the functioning of the European Union itself – in particular the institutional organisation of the EU, its substantive norms and the character of the Union as a policy-making body. We also examine the EU’s relations with its Member States (and their different layers of government and society) and the role of the European Union in world affairs.

New challenges such as technological developments and the rise of chauvinist and nationalist movements require new solutions from the EU. Brexit has also confronted the union with urgent existential questions for which it has no ready-made answers. All of these have far-reaching consequences for the more normative dimensions of European integration: how the European integration process should develop; its vision for the future; relations with Member States and other non-EU states; and its role on a global level.

Research Theme 1

Democracy, Politics, Security and Rule of Law

Sixty years after its inception, the European Union is still grappling with the key issues of national sovereignty and democratic legitimacy. Who calls the shots and at what level of government? The EU has spawned several supranational institutions including a parliament and a court, but how should these interact with their national counterparts? And where do regional and local authorities come in? What kind of reforms are needed to safeguard democracy and ensure that citizens get more involved in the European project instead of falling prey to Euroscepticism? These are only a few of the questions that will need to be analysed and researched.

Equally high on the research agenda will be the internal and external threats facing the European project. How do we foster European integration and strengthen the rule of law? Do we need new forms of collaboration to tackle urgent global issues such as climate change, migration, cyber security and terrorism? And how do we reduce tensions on Europe’s periphery and make neighbouring regions more stable and secure?

Research Theme 2

Identity, Heritage and the Citizens’ Perspective

When six European nations embarked on the integration process in the wake of World War II, there was no blueprint. Of course, the founding fathers had a vision and shared ideals, but the real driving forces over time have eluded both scientists and the public. This calls for some thorough research, also on a fundamental level, into the role of ideas in shaping modern European history.

Meanwhile, European integration has left citizens afraid of losing their identity and cultural heritage. The influx of immigrants has fuelled these fears. Our research will focus on what happens to history and heritage in multicultural societies. It will examine the role of politicians, governmental bodies and cultural institutions. Seeking to boost social and cultural participation, these actors have embraced new technologies, even though the legal and ethical frameworks are still under construction.

The Euregion can serve as a research laboratory. After all, the former mining region has had to cope with similar challenges and may help us understand the impact of major changes in society and what it means to be a European citizen.

Research Theme 3

Prosperity, Welfare and Inequality

There are still considerable differences in living standards, life expectancy and health within the EU despite continued efforts to create a level playing field. One explanation is that Brussels may have tried too hard, making member states reluctant to implement policies. Of course, the 2008 financial crisis didn’t really help. It led to a knee-jerk reaction of more centralised control.

Further research will help us understand what caused the failure of EU strategies designed to limit social and health inequalities, and provide recommendations for future policies, including proposals to improve shock resilience. Our research will look at three major challenges facing the EU:

 

  • The ageing population will put pressure on social security and pension systems across Europe and raises issues relating to health, migration and lifelong learning.
  • Technological innovations like robotics and automation are set to impact people’s daily lives and the labour market. So will Global Value Chains: production chains with tasks spread over different countries.
  • Sustainable development is an area in which the EU is well-placed to take on a leading role.

Research Theme 4

Knowledge, Technology and Digitalisation

Supported by the European Commission, the business-enterprise sector is playing a major role in generating new knowledge and technologies. Research on the economic effects of these corporate investments is in high demand. The findings may help businesses exploit their innovation potential. This, in turn, will benefit the EU and its citizens. Innovations in automation and digitalisation are expected to boost the EU’s long-term competitiveness, help build a greener society and improve the overall quality of life of EU citizens.

The use of social media may help boost citizen engagement and participation in politics. It can produce knowledge in areas such as medicine, science and politics. However, the use of these tools is not without critics. More research is needed into how knowledge is created and shared by digital platforms. The same applies to the increased use of data by European companies and organisations. How do they handle, analyse and interpret these rich datasets? Can they be used more efficiently for decision-making? And what are the ethical, legal and social implications?

All this research will benefit from a high-quality research infrastructure, offering new opportunities for sharing and connecting data and resources across the continent.

Read the full Maastricht, Working on Europe strategic research agenda here.

Research Calls

The Maastricht, Working on Europe research scheme contains five calls and aims to encourage multidisciplinary research, larger grant applications, publication of scholarly papers and establishment of strategic research consortia.

Call 1

Post-doctoral researchers (research theme 3 and 4) (filled)

 

Call 2

Preparing a large grant application and strategic consortium (open now – second round)

 

Call 3

Fundamental research – Early career scholars (open now – second round)

 

Call 4

Policy briefs (open now)

 

Call 5

Workshops and conferences (open now)

 

The research proposals and applications must be (a) innovative and of high academic quality, (b) clearly linked to one of the four defined main research themes, (c) interdisciplinary and interfacultary in nature, (d) show a strong societal impact, outreach and/or citizen science component and/or (e) include acquisition of external funding (i.e. “a fly-wheel effect”).

Important deadlines

  • Call 2 and 3 are re-opened for a second round (deadline 29 May, 5:00 PM CET)
  • Call 4 and 5 are open now (allocation of funds on a rolling basis)

Please keep an eye on this website for updates. Additional information can be found on the Maastricht University website.

Call 2 and 3

We are looking for teams of (at least) two researchers of (at least) two faculties with proven academic quality and interdisciplinary ambitions to strengthen the Maastricht, Working on Europe research agenda. The research teams have a proven interest in one or more of the research themes defined in this agenda.

Deadline for applications is 29 May, 5:00 PM CET.

Call 4 and 5

Call 4 (Preparing Policy Briefs) and call 5 (Organising Workshops/Conferences) are open from 15 February 2019 to staff members of Maastricht University.

For more information and links to application documents for all calls, please visit the Maastricht University website here, and scroll down to the Research Calls.