The fundamental role of the rule of law in protecting rights and democracy in Europe has increasingly been called into question in recent years, resulting in shifting political dynamics in national and European contexts. The re:constitution program deals with these shifts and intends to inspire comprehensive discussion between legal scholars and practitioners about and around questions of democracy, the rule of law, protection of fundamental rights in Europe – across borders and the entire political spectrum.
Funded by Stiftung Mercator and co-managed by the Forum Transregionale Studien and Democracy Reporting International, the program awards fellowships to scholars and practitioners, organizes events, and offers topical analysis. Since 2019 re:constitution promotes exchange between academia and practice about the rule of law in Europe. One of the core elements of the program is the promotion of Europe-wide mobility for fellows to collaborate with institutions and partners of choice on topics and projects of mutual interest.
Thus, a European network is emerging that deals with questions concerning the state of the common European constitution, the tension between pluralistic interpretations of democracy and the rule of law, and cooperation within the European Union. This new European discourse contributes to an informed and fact-based public debate.
re:constitution annually awards up to 20 Fellowships for one academic year to younger scholars and practitioners of law to pursue a project of their own choice. The core element of the re:constitution Fellowships is the pan-European mobility phase called the “stage”, during which the Fellows spend six months at research institutions or places of legal practice within the European Union. In the course of the academic year, they meet three times for Fellows’ Exchange Meetings lasting several days each. These group phases are accompanied by virtual and personal thematic debates, excursions, lectures, and discussions by and with experts from academia and practice. Due to the pandemic, remote exchange replaced personal mobility and meetings, but for the upcoming academic year hybrid formats will be developed.
The re:constitution Seminars bring experienced European scholars and practitioners of law and re:constitution Fellows and alumni into personal exchange. They are based on the premise that personal exchange is an indispensable tool for understanding and convergence, especially considering different political experiences and cultures. The seminars allow for thematic debates about concepts of democracy and the rule of law, taking into account current political issues and specific topical questions. These seminar meetings are developed in collaboration with the re:constitution Collegium and take place at various institutions of strategic importance for the development of the re:constitution network across the EU.
Seminar I: Institutions of Judicial Independence
Seminar II: EU Rule of Law Case-Law: Crucial Recent Developments
Seminar III: Who gets to speak? Media Pluralism – a Contested Concept and its Application in EU Member States
Seminar IV: Resisting multiple pressures – Perspectives on Academic Freedom in Europe
Seminar V: The Democratic Dilemma - The Forgotten Value in Art. 2 TEU
re:constitution Analysis is managed by Democracy Reporting International. Up-to-date analysis of the rule of law in Europe in digital and classic publication formats (e.g., essays, infographics, analyses, etc.) promotes an informed and fact-based public debate. This serves journalists (directly) and political decision-makers (indirectly) as a possible first source of information on the important developments in connection with the rule of law in Europe. Along with regular exchange with the media and a focused approach for the development of media partnerships, the project activities include virtual outreach events and thematic consultations.