Economic convergence across member countries is one of the main ordering principles of the integration process of the European Union (EU). Important as it may be, in recent years this view has been challenged by the financial, economic and political tensions mounted during the 2010s, and recently by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of independent academic studies, as well as elaborations at the top EU institutions, a new emerging idea is that "United in diversity", the motto of the Union, should be given more tangible institutional structure. This by balancing the goal of greater economic convergence and integration with the need to valorise, harmonise, and direct to common goals the varieties of societies, economies and institutions that characterize the European landscape for the EU to succeed in the face of the political, social, and economic challenges of the present time.
In this perspective, the Summer Module on Economics and Institutions in Europe (SMEIE), is an international teaching module taught in English and based at the University of Trento (Italy), gathering scholars and students from all over Europe and committed on different disciplines focused on the thematic innovation of the role of variety as a factor of greater strength in the European integration process.
SMEIE organizes an innovative mix of activities tailored to:
- promote innovative and interdisciplinary research for EU integration for up to 20 PhD students each year
- create networks and partnerships, producing shared research and exchange of ideas, constituting the basis for future poles of European knowledge
- foster publication and dissemination of outcomes inside and outside of academia through dedicated webpages and events to be organized jointly with local institutions. The reparation of these events will be part of the students' training.
SMEIE has been planned within, and will be grafted onto, the activities of the research group on Economics and Institutions in Europe of the Department of Economics and Management of the University of Trento.
Whereas the first edition of the Module is dedicated to present and explore the topic of the variety of institutions from many points of view, from the second year onward each year will be dedicated to analyzing in depth one specific economic or institutional side of the EU, with strong orientation towards policy and general public communication.
Each year SMEIE will take place within one week in the summer period, with 40 hours from Monday to Friday. Lectures will be delivered by members of the EIE group as well as invited international experts to be selected each year by the Scientific Committee.
Given its continuation over time, SMEIE will positively impact on three main target groups:
- short-term impact on PhD students and early career researchers through improvement of their skills and curricula, development of informal networks, publications on international journals;
- medium-term impact on groups outside higher education institutions and civil society
- long-term impact on understanding and communicating the value of economic and institutional diversity developing new policy tools, which can fit the different economic and institutional contingencies of the different European member states.