Aston Centre for Europe (ACE): News and Events

ACE news and events

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The Aston Centre for Europe (ACE) is delighted to host the launch of its Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (JMCE), which is taking place on Thursday 12th October 2017, at Aston University. Everyone is welcome to attend.

ACE has, since its launch, focused on offering relevant research into a wide range of European questions, forging strong collaboration between scholars, policy-makers and the wider community.  We are honoured to have been designated a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence by the European Commission – in this part of our work, we will focus on the topic of European integration and disintegration.  The centre will host cutting-edge research but will also be a forum for debate between academics, students, policy-makers and wider civil society in a wide range of policy areas.

This launch event marks the start of this important and timely project.  We will hear from leading scholars and practitioners, and then see some photographic insights into one of the great current crises faced in Europe.   

Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence launch programme
Aston University, Birmingham
Thursday 12th October 2017

Stafford Room 2, Aston University Main Building

4.00 – 4.05pm: Welcome 
Dr Helena Farrand Carrapico (Senior Lecturer, Aston University) 

4.05pm-4.45pm: Keynote speech by Dr Anneliese Dodds, MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury. 
Introduction of the keynote speaker by Dr Andrew Glencross (Senior Lecturer, Aston University) 
‘Financial and economic governance post-brexit: achieving stability and social justice in challenging times’    

4.45pm- 6pm: Roundtable 
‘Between integration and chaos? Rethinking the future of the European Union’. 
Roundtable participants:     

  • Professor Dora Kostakopoulou, Professor of EU Law, European Integration and Public Policy, University of Warwick 
  • Dr Johannes Lindner, Head of Division, EU Institutions and Fora Division, European Central Bank  · 
  • Professor Mike Smith, Professor in European Politics, University of Warwick 
  • Dr Anneliese Dodds, MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • Dr Tim Haughton, Reader in European Politics, University of Birmingham
Chair: Dr Helena Farrand Carrapico (Senior Lecturer, Aston University)    

6pm: Showcasing our research and wine reception 
Photo exhibition of fieldwork ‘Borders, Europe, Crisis: a visual journey through migrant routes in Greece and Serbia’ (please see attached poster for further details) 
Presented by Dr Amanda Russell Beattie, Dr Gemma Bird, Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, and Dr Patrycja Rozbicka (Aston Centre for Europe).    

For catering purposes, we would kindly ask you to confirm your presence via the following e-mail: Europe@aston.ac.uk     

We look forward to welcoming you to this event.

Aston University and Örebro University Joint Event

Integrating refugees moving beyond the migration crisis: Are we building a new society?

Monday, 22 May 2017 
Room MB375 


9:30 am - Welcome by the Vice Chancellor of Aston University
Public Lecture by Dr. Emma Arneback, Örebro University
Anti-Racist Education in a time of Migration

10.00-10.30 - Public Lecture by Amanda Russell Beattie, Aston University
Families, Children & Mobility Politics:
Attending to child voice in the 2012 Family Immigration Rules (UK)

10.30-11.00 - Questions and Answers

11.00-13.00 - Roundtable: the View from Practitioners
Helen Clare, City of Sanctuary Committee
Lea Fanara, Support Worker, Ashley Community & Housing
Shari Brown, Project Coordinator, Restore Project, Birmingham
David Hirst, Refugee and Migrant Support Practitioner, Birmingham Community Housing Network
Haliima Ali, Ashley Community and Housing

13.00 -14.00 - Buffet lunch for all participants

Turkey and the EU. Great promises, Lost chances.

Venue: Aston University, Main Building, Room: MB552  
30 March 2017 16.30-18.00

Turkey and the EU

What does Brexit mean for the regional economies and industries? Regional economic development in question

Aston Centre for Europe - Thursday 21 July 2016

Venue: Aston Business School, Aston University, Conference Room 1

1.30 pm: arrival and coffee

2.00 pm: Panel 1: The referendum outcome and Britain’s economic development: what can we expect for the the regions?

Anneliese Dodds, MEP and member, Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee 
Lee Hopley, Chief Economist, EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation 
Stephanie Wall, Senior Policy and Patronage Advisor, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce 
Paul Forrest, West Midlands Economic Forum 
Les Budd, Reader in Social Enterprise, Open University Business School 

3.30 pm: Coffee break

3.45 pm: Panel 2 The referendum outcome and workers’ rights in the UK: regional implications in the West Midlands and beyond

Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union
Sion Simon MEP, Employment and Social Affairs Committee, European Parliament
David Bailey, Professor of Industry, Aston Business School and analyst of the West Midlands economy
Lee Barron, Regional Secretary of the TUC in the Midlands

5.15 pm: Close of conference and reception, hosted by the Aston Centre for Europe

Register now by emailing europe@aston.ac.uk   

To download the poster for this event, please click here

PIR Lunchtime Seminar Series (9th March): US Presidential elections 2016 – Post-Super Tuesday

Speakers: Prof. Jonathan Tritter, LSS Sociology and Policy, Dr. Jorg Mathias, LSS Politics and International Relations

Participants: 28

Summary: Following the Super Tuesday of the US Presidential elections that took place on 1st March, our speakers talked with students and staff on the topic of the consequences of the event. Prof. Tritter introduced us to the topic of federalism and US elections in general. He also touched upon the issue of importance of those on the electoral debates and political stand. Dr. Mathias talked in more detail about the results of the Super Tuesday. He focus in particular on the divisions in the Republicans’ camp and potential solutions. Questions from the room concentrated on the importance of upcoming primaries in other states, as well as, the July national conventions." 

PIR Lunchtime Seminar Series (10th February): ‘Political Speechwriting in Russia. Tricks of the trade and Current Events’

Speaker: Dr Denis Dvornikov, speechwriter for the Moscow Regional Administration

Participants: 36

Summary: Our invited speaker covered a number of interesting issues related to the professional experience as a political speechwriter. He covered the main aspects of political speechwriting and revealed some tricks of the trade, while comparing different styles and tools. The speaker referred also to the main political speeches in the Russian politics delivered in 2015-2016. He also briefly referred to the historical roots and evolution of speechwriting in the Post-Soviet states. The participants asked a number of questions with regard to the independence of political speechwriters, their influence on politics, and potential ethical issues.

PIR Lunchtime Seminar Series (29th January): ‘The work of a Member of Parliament’

Speakers: Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood

Participants: 25

At the invitation of the Politics and International Relations Department, Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, gave a talk on her work as local MP and her views on the position of the Labour Party today, pressing policy issues, and also her experience as an Asian woman representing a diverse constituency in Westminster.


Politics and International Relations is very happy to report that Aston University was the first Higher Education institution from England to participate in EuroSim, the largest and longest running EU simulation in the world. Every year, this simulation brings together over 250 students and faculty from more than 30 universities in the United States and Europe, offering participants a unique opportunity to work and learn in an exciting multicultural environment. This year’s EuroSim, which took place at the University of Antwerp, from the 4th to the 7th of January, engaged students in the very challenging task of contributing to the resolution of the refugee crisis. During four days, the students revised the Dublin Regulation III and negotiated a new legal text, Dublin IV, which includes common allocation criteria for asylum seekers. The results of the simulation will now be communicated to the European Commission and the European Parliament. The Aston team, which was composed of three undergraduate and five master students, received excellent reviews and comments from other teams and members of staff. Some members of the team were even considered for best performance awards, which is a very good result for a university that is participating for the first time. The students taking part of the Aston EuroSim team were: Ms. Chloé Berthelemy, Ms. Daisy Hamilton, Ms. Amanda Henson, Mr. Dimitri Kostadinov, Ms. Alice Levasseur, Ms. Radhika Madlani, Ms. Katja Sarassa, and Ms. Élise Wattrelot. 
By popular demand, the EuroSim training, which was delivered by Dr Helena Farrand-Carrapico and Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, will be transformed into a full-fledged EU Decision-Making simulation module running, from 2016/ 2017, in PIR UG final year. The Aston EuroSim team would like to thank the Alumni for their kind support and for enabling its participation in the event.  

'The Euro-Japanese Trade Relation and East Asian Regional Integration'

The Aston Centre for Europe is very happy to announce the publication of Ms. Tamara Maier's MA thesis, 'The Euro-Japanese Trade Relation and East Asian Regional Integration'. Tamara Maier is a final year student in the Double MA Europe and the World. Having studied business in Japan and the EU’s foreign affairs at both Aston University and Sciences Po Lille, she is focusing on Euro-Japanese trade. She is currently doing a long-term internship at Amada Europe, a multinational machine tool manufacturer, working on the concepts of Smart Factories and digital solutions.

Her dissertation has been published by the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation in the Publications part of the website. The text can be found here: http://www.eu-japan.eu/publications

Abstract: Negotiated at the same time as the TPP, the TTIP and the RCEP, the Euro-Japanese FTA could seem like a minor agreement and yet, it is claimed to be an ambitious endeavour (DG Trade, 2015) and Japan even talks about this project as being a “Mega FTA” (METI, 2015), very defining for both economies, as well as regional and global trade and rule-making. While both the EU and Japan are major economic powers sharing common values, an FTA doesn’t appear like the most obvious thing between both partners as much because of their geographical position as because of Japan’s tradition of poor trade openness (OECD, 2011). And yet, both parts have been committing to major efforts to achieve this goal since 2009. The project was even pushed forward by Japan, in reaction to the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

The aim of this dissertation is to understand the role of the East Asian area and the influence of its regional integration process in the evolution of the Euro-Japanese partnership and the wish to start negotiate a Free Trade Agreement.

How Could the Paris Attacks Alter European Politics?

This event took place at Chatham House, on the 14th of December 2015. Prof. John Gaffney spoke on how the Paris attacks changed European politics. Here is the link to the event at Chatham House: https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/how-could-paris-attacks-alter-european-politics 

The chatham house event probed the effects of the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015 upon the future of European politics and in particular far right politics. The event was chaired by the director and Chatham house and the event was attended by 150 people. The panel looked at the issues from three related perspectives; the role of 'islamism' or radical islam in the paris attacks and in European politics generally; the development of right wing populism as a pan-European phenomenon and, conversely, from 'within' nation states - in the case of France looking at the French-specific conditions of these developments - institutions, traditions, history, personalities, the media, and culture. The presentations were followed by a long and lively Q&A. 

Watch a short video from the event HERE.

PIR Lunchtime Seminar Series: 2nd meeting - 18th November: The Impact of the Paris Attacks on French and European Politics 

Speakers: Professor Simon Green, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the School of Languages and Social Sciences, Dr Virginie Grzelczyk, Politics and International Relations
Participants: 58
Summary: Two invited speakers shared with students on the, very up-to-date, issue of the attacks on the French capital on 13th November 2015. The speakers focused on the impact of events on the population of France (Dr Grzelczyk) and more broad consequences of the attacks for the European and British politics (Prof. Green). Students and gathered staff asked a number of interesting questions with regard to the following themes: radicalisation of youngsters and the role that secular education plays in it in France and Belgium; validity, and in fact desirability, of Schengen agreement; security threat and potential French/European/World response; Muslim community responsibility? The debate was also linked to the Asylum seekers regulation, uncertainty of available information, and potential effects of counteracting such events with measures affecting civil liberties.

Staying in the Fast Lane: Britain's Auto Industry in Europe

The relationship between Britain’s automotive industry and the European Union (EU), will be top of the agenda at an event, ‘Staying in The Fast Lane: Britain’s Auto Industry in Europe’, to be hosted by the Aston Centre for Europe this week (12 November).

Leading academics, professionals, trade bodies, practitioners and media commentators will gather to consider the effectiveness of the current relationship of the sector with the EU, and the implications should the UK vote to leave the EU in next year’s referendum. T

There are concerns that should a ‘Brexit’ be realised, then the automotive industries in neighbouring countries, such as Germany, France and Italy, will not only benefit in terms of export sales, but also in terms of shaping future regulation of the sector. Yet others claim that Britain could negotiate a trade deal with Europe and the UK auto industry could thrive if the UK were to leave the EU.

In the past three years, £7.5bn has been invested by major automotive assemblers in the UK, and the sector contributes 4% of UK GDP. Around 45% of UK automotive exports are to the EU, so the ongoing relationship is vital to the continued competitiveness and success of the industry in this country.

Delivering the keynote speech at the event will be Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Read more HERE and see the full programme HERE 

Oral History and Cuba: A Changing Society?

As Paul Thompson states in the Preface of his landmark work Voices of the Past, 'the richest possibilities of Oral History lie within the development of a more socially conscious and democratic history' (2000, vi). In the Cuban context, oral history is a vital tool in understanding popular experience, and producing narratives of social change from below. Yet in this context, oral history has sometimes been a challenging experience for researchers, due to the ideological orientation of the Cuban Revolutionary government and the weight of 'official history', serving to narrow access for researchers, and the scope of the sayable for citizens.

This one day international workshop therefore seeks to break new ground, by bringing together academics who have conducted oral history research in Cuba or with Cubans living outside Cuba. It will also count with the presence of Professor Paul Thompson, founder of the Oral History society and founding editor of the journal Oral History, who will offer final remarks to close the day. 

The impact of the Charlie Hebdo attack on French and European politics 

Lunchtime Current Affairs Talks in Politics and International Relations

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

How has the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo impacted the political scene in France, and in Europe? Is it likely to lead to changes in further tightening security measures, or a change in our understanding of free speech? Will it contribute to strengthening populist and xenophobic voices? What are the lessons for Britain?

The event will include a short introductory talk, followed by discussion.

Speaker: Professor John Gaffney, Politics and International Relations

Younger Voters Views of the EU at a Time of Change

Aston Centre for Europe & Interland Joint Seminar on Younger Voters ViewsFebruary 2015. 

UK–EU relations have frequently been marked by significant differences about the direction of European integration. Nonetheless, for forty years British membership of the EU was regarded as a fixed feature of the political landscape. Since the formation of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government, following the UK General Election of 2010, this situation has changed radically and David Cameron’s referendum pledge has made a British exit from the EU a serious, if far from certain, prospect for the first time since the UK's first referendum on staying in the ‘Common Market’ in 1975.

Presenting the results of our European Commission-sponsored researches, this seminar focuses on just one neglected and overlooked section of the electorate: younger voters living in disadvantaged communities. Recent coverage of public opinion on the European issue in British politics has tended to focus on UKIP’s core electorate of older voters, of white ethnicity, on lower incomes, living in small- and medium-sized towns, who have a higher propensity to have finished formal education at the age of 15. We propose to turn this on its head by looking at marginalised younger voters’ views of Britain’s relationship with the European Union in context, reporting back from a series of events held around the West Midlands on younger voters’ views of the EU and considering these findings in a much broader context with presentations from political scientists, MEPs and other experts.