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Sara Norrevik teaches EU studies to American students

Sara Norrevik is a PhD Candidate and Fulbright Grantee in Political Science at the University at Buffalo.

What attracts many scholars to study the European Union is the resilience it has shown in the face of several crises. In particular, many institutional changes have been made to address what is referred to as the 'democratic deficit'. In an effort to increase democratic decision-making, the European Parliament was given increased powers; a move which has been criticised as insufficient. However, Sara's work focuses on the political complexities and impact that have resulted from this reform. 

What attracted you to the field of European Studies/ fascinated you about the EU?

I took a course on European integration during my undergraduate studies and was fascinated to learn about this unique project, which started as a cooperation in economic sectors to prevent devastating wars on the continent. Before this, I had been quite skeptical to the EU as I remember hearing domestic debates in my home country (Sweden) prior to becoming a member state in 1994. When I understood its history better, the EU became something larger than debates about the colour of vegetables.

The EU continues to fascinate me as it has faced tremendous challenges in the last decade, from the drama around the Lisbon Treaty, the Eurocrisis, the refugee crisis and worsening security challenges including domestic terrorism and Russian provocations, Brexit and the now the coronavirus. Its feathers have been ruffled but it has also grown stronger in some respects.

I had the opportunity to work as a stagiaire (trainee) in an EU institution in 2010 where I learned about EU government and policies in practice, and got to know people from each and every Member State, which gave the project a human dimension. Today I teach EU studies to American students which provides new perspectives on EU integration. In my research I focus on policy positions in the European Parliament.

What is the most important issue to be addressed in your research?

My research is concerned with foreign economic policies in the European Parliament. How do Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) form policy positions on foreign trade and financial aid? Since 2010, the EU has risen as an actor on the world stage. At the same time, the powers of the European Parliament (EP) have increased considerably in relation to other EU institutions. I believe the EP deserves more scholarly attention after its increased powers that came with the Lisbon Treaty, and with changes in the EP rules of procedure to use roll-call voting for all legislative acts.

The Parliament now has power to reject trade agreements and financial aid, and it has asserted its role in the policy-making process during recent years by using these powers. In my research, I identify new predictors for MEPs’ support for foreign economic policies. For example, I study the role of trust in national governments and MEPs’ support for trade agreements. In a separate study, I analyze the role of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from major powers to EU member states/subnational districts and MEPs’ support for foreign aid and trade with third party countries. In both of these studies I find statistical associations that are significant. I show that MEPs with higher FDI from a major power into their electoral districts are more likely to vote in line with that power's preferred policy.

Sara Norrevik is a PhD Candidate and Fulbright Grantee in Political Science at the University at Buffalo. Her dissertation "Trade Policy Preferences and Comprehensive Trade Agreements" consists of three papers that consider trade policy preferences among legislators, the public and elites under comprehensive trade agreements. Sara Norreviks major fields of interest are International Political Economy, Comparative Politics and American Politics. In 2018, Sara Norrevik received the Best Paper Award, Junior Scholar, from the European Community Studies Association Canada (ECSA-C) at their Biennial Conference.


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