Under the title “Tensions at the Fringes of the European Union – Regaining the EU’s Purpose”, the TREUP project pursues interdisciplinary European studies from the enhanced perception of tensions at the fringes of the European Union, combining the empirical exploration of tensions with the EU’s purpose as a normative constitutional perspective. TREUP suggests that it is not desirable or even possible to fully dissolve these tensions – this would only result in neglect. Instead, European integration need not be mired by tensions if its main actors maintain or regain a sense of its purpose. The EEC’s original purpose was the approximation of working and living conditions while their improvement is being maintained, which the EU complements by promoting the wellbeing of people as well as a range of socio-economic and ecological values and the respect for as well as protection and promotion of human rights, including social and cultural rights. It is at the fringes of the European Union – whether defined geographically as the West, East, North and South or metaphorically as in the perspective of the minorities of free moving EU citizens, the economically excluded or non-EU citizens – that the value of these purposes is most acutely perceived.

By devising critical interdisciplinary European studies, TREUP enhances the global profile of the host institution in this field. TREUP is convened by Queen’s University Belfast’s Jean Monnet ad personam Chair in EU Law & Policy (Prof Dagmar Schiek) and also comprises the Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Science (Prof David Phinnemore) and the Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration (Dr Lee McGowan).

TREUP’s four research clusters focus on tensions between narrow economic perspectives on integration and the lives of Europe’s people in their diversity, between the EU’s external (trade) policy and its constitutional values, between different degrees of intensity of integration and different levels of governance, and between the two competing European human rights regimes.