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Prof. Dr. Robert Harmsen

Robert Harmsen

Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

Research Topics European Public Policy, Europeanisation, Euroscepticism, Comparative Politics (Europe/North America), Human Rights
Faculty or Centre Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Department Department of Social Sciences
Postal Address Université du Luxembourg
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette
Campus Office MSH, M00 15-080
Telephone (+352) 46 66 44 9640

Robert Harmsen joined the University of Luxembourg in November 2008 as Professor of Political Science.

He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta (Canada), and then undertook his doctoral work as a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Kent at Canterbury (United Kingdom). After defending his doctoral thesis (on the historical and intellectual origins of the constitution of the French Fifth Republic) in 1988, he returned to Canada as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Université de Montréal, subsequently holding teaching positions at McGill and Laurentian Universities.

Crossing the Atlantic again, he joined Queen’s University Belfast in 1993, as a founding member of the Institute of European Studies. During his time at Queen’s, Dr. Harmsen served as the initial co-ordinator of the university’s MA programme in European Integration and Public Policy. He also held a number of key administrative posts, including those of Acting Director of the Institute of European Studies, Head of Teaching in the School of Politics and International Studies, and Director of Research for the European Governance and Gender Group in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.

Professor Harmsen has been a visiting professor at the Institut d’Etudes politiques de Strasbourg (recurring, 1998-2010) and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia (2015-16), as well as a visiting researcher at the Faculty of Humanities of the University Amsterdam (2005) and Researcher-in-Residence at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (2002). He is also a co-editor of the Brill/Rodopi European Studies series, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary European Research and a member of the international scientific committee of the Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest.

Professor Harmsen’s research interests have spanned a broad range of topics concerned with the contemporary processes of European integration, at both the national and the supranational levels. He has written on the constitutional development of the European Union (including logics of ‘variable geometry’) and on the politico-legal dynamics of the European Human Rights regime (with particular reference to the post-enlargement challenges faced by the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights). He has also published extensively on the themes of ‘Europeanisation’ (notably examining the ‘path dependent’ logics of administrative adaptation to the EU decision-making process) and ‘Euroscepticism’ (specifically in relation to developments in Britain, France, and the Netherlands). A further strand of his research has concerned comparative and international higher education policy (including the Bologna Process), developed through the successfully completed ‘Euro-Uni’ (2010-2012) and ‘Global-Uni’ (2013-2016) research projects undertaken together with Dr. Gangolf Braband.

Professor Harmsen is the current holder of the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights, as well as serving as the Head of the Department of Social Sciences and the Director of the Master in European Governance. His current research focuses on the dynamics of judicial globalisation in relation to the diffusion of fundamental rights, as well as on the role of human rights in the policy process.

Last updated on: Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Selected Publications


Debating Europe: The 2009 European Parliament Elections and Beyond (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2011), 280 pp.
Co-editor with Joachim Schild (University of Trier). Published as vol. 71 in the Schriftenreihe des Arbeitskreises Europäische Integration.

Euroscepticism: Party Politics, National Identity and European Integration, (Amsterdam/New York: Editions Rodopi, 2004), 290 pp.
Co-editor with Menno Spiering (University of Amsterdam). Published as No. 20 in the European Studies series. Paperback edition, with a new preface on ‘Euroscepticism and the “No” to the European Constitutional Treaty’, published 2005. Croatian translation published by the Centre for Political Science Research, Zagreb, 2007.

Europeanization: Institutions, Identities and Citizenship, (Amsterdam/Atlanta: Editions Rodopi, 2000), 274 pp.
Co-editor with Thomas M. Wilson (Queen’s University of Belfast). Published as Yearbook of European Studies, no. 14.

Articles and Chapters by Theme

Higher Education Policy

1). ‘Taking Stock of the Bologna Process at 20: The Possibilities and Limits of Soft Law Governance’, co-authored with Ligia Deca in Adrian Curaj, Ligia Deca and Remus Pricopie (eds.), European Higher Education Area: Challenges for a New Decade (Cham: Springer, 2020), pp. 417-436.

2). ‘L'université et les droits fondamentaux, in Jörg Gerkrath (ed.), La défense des droits et libertés au Grand-Duché de Luxembourg : Rôle, contribution respective et concertation des organes impliqués (Brussels: Larcier, 2020), pp. 100-124.

3). ‘The OECD and Higher Education Policy: Agenda-Setting, Organizational Dynamics and the Construction of Convening Authority’, Higher Education Policy (2019), [Co-authored with Gangolf Braband]

4). 'The Governance of Post-Secondary Education Systems in British Columbia and Ontario: Path Dependence and Provincial Policy', Canadian Public Administration, vol. 60 no. 3 (2017), pp. 349-368. [Co-authored with Allan Tupper]

5). 'A Post Secondary Education Dialogue for Canada' in Katherine A.H. Graham and Allan M. Maslove (eds.), How Ottawa Spends 2017-18: Canada @150 (Ottawa: Carleton University School of Public Policy and Administration, 2017), pp. 20-31. [Co-authored with Allan Tupper]

6). 'Future Scenarios for the European Higher Education Area: Exploring the Possibilities of "Experimentalist Governance"', in Curaj, A.; Matei, L.; Pricopie, R.; Salmi, J.; Scott, P. (eds.), The European Higher Education Area: Between Critical Reflections and Future Policies. Part 2 (Cham: Springer, 2015), pp 795-813.

7). ‘Laboratories of Reform? The Europeanization and Internationalization of Higher Education in Central and Eastern Europe’, in Dorota Dakowska, Robert Harmsen and Ioana Cîrstocea (eds.), ‘Europeanization, Internationalization and Higher Education Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe’, special issue of the European Journal of Higher Education, vol. 5 no. 1 (2015), pp. 1-17. [Co-authored with Dorota Dakowska]

8). ‘The Governance of the Global University: Leadership and Policy Challenges’, in Leadership and Governance in Higher Education: A Handbook for Decision-makers and Administrators (Berlin: Josef Raabe), supplemental volume 2014-03 (2014), pp. 36-52.

9). ‘The Challenges of the Contemporary University’, in Michel Margue (ed.), Université du Luxembourg, 2003-2013 (Luxembourg: University of Luxembourg, 2013), pp. 14-21.

Euroscepticism and the Party Politics of European Integration 

1).  ‘The Dutch Left and European Integration: Framing the Constitutional Debate’, in Michael Holmes and Knut Roder (eds.), The Left and the European Constitution: From Laeken to Lisbon, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012), pp. 55-76.

2). ‘Concluding Comment: On Understanding the Relationship between Populism and Euroscepticism’, in Stéphanie Dechezelles, Laure Neumayer, and Michel Perrotino (eds.), ‘Is Populism a Side-Effect of the Europeanization of Political Competition?’, special issue of Perspectives on European Politics and Society, vol. 11 no. 3 (2010), pp. 333-341.

3). ‘French Euroscepticism and the Construction of National Exceptionalism’, in Tony Chafer and Emmanuel Godin (eds.), The End of the French Exception?: Decline and Revival of the ‘French Model’ (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010), pp. 105-122.

4). ‘The Evolution of Dutch European Discourse: Defining the “Limits of Europe”’, Perspectives on European Politics and Society: Journal of Intra-European Dialogue., vol. 8 no. 3 (2008), pp. 316-341.

5). ‘Is British Euroscepticism Still Unique?: National Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective’, in Ramona Coman and Justine Lacroix (eds.), Les Résistances à l’Europe: Cultures nationales, idéologies et stratégies d’acteurs (Brussels: Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2007), pp 69-92.

6). ‘L’Europe et les partis politiques nationaux: Les leçons d’un «non-clivage»’, Revue internationale de politique comparée, vol. 12 no. 1 (2005), pp. 77-94.

7). ‘Euroscepticism in the Netherlands: Stirrings of Dissent’ in Robert Harmsen and Menno Spiering (eds.), Euroscepticism: Party Politics, National Identity and European Integration, European Studies no. 20 (Amsterdam/New York: Editions Rodopi, 2004), pp. 99-126.

Europeanisation and the Adaptation of National Politico-Administrative Orders 

1). ‘Luxembourg and the European Union’, in Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020). [co-authored with Anna-Lena Högenauer]

2). ‘Les limites de l'européanisation: les administrations nationales face à la construction européenne’ in Didier Georgakakis (ed.), Les métiers de l'Europe politique: Acteurs et professionnalisations de l'Union européenne (Strasbourg: Presses de l'Université de Strasbourg/Collection ‘Sociologie politique de l'Europe’, 2002), pp. 297-315.

3). ‘Europeanization and Governance: A New Institutionalist Perspective’ in Robert Harmsen and Thomas M. Wilson (eds.), Europeanization: Institutions, Identities and Citizenship, Yearbook of European Studies no. 14 (Amsterdam/Atlanta: Editions Rodopi, 2000), pp. 51-81.

4). ‘The Europeanization of National Administrations: A Comparative Study of France and the Netherlands’, Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration vol. 12 no. 1 (January 1999), pp. 81-113.

5). ‘European Integration and the Adaptation of Domestic Constitutional Orders: An Anglo-French Comparison’, Journal of European Integration/Revue d’Intégration européenne vol. 17 no. 1 (1993), pp. 71-99.

The European Human Rights Regime

1). ‘The European Courts’, in José Magone (ed.), Routledge Handbook of European Politics (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015), pp. 263-279. [Co-authored with Karen McAuliffe]

2). ‘The (Geo-) Politics of EU Accession to the ECHR’, in Vasiliki Kosta, Nikos Skoutaris and Vassilis P. Tzevelekos (eds.), The EU Accession to the ECHR (Oxford: Hart, 2014), pp. 199-217.

3). ‘The Reform of the Convention System: Institutional Restructuring and the (Geo-)Politics of Human Rights’, in Jonas Christoffersen and Mikael Rask Madsen (eds.), The European Court of Human Rights between Law and Politics(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 119-143.

4). ‘The Transformation of the ECHR Legal Order and the Post-Enlargement Challenges facing the European Court of Human Rights’, in Giuseppe Martinico and Oreste Pollicino (eds.),The NationalJudicial Treatment of the ECHR and EU Laws: A Comparative Constitutional Approach (Groningen: Europa Law Publishing, 2010), pp. 27-54.

5). ‘The European Court of Human Rights as a “Constitutional Court”: Definitional Debates and the Dynamics of Reform’, in John Morison, Kieran McEvoy and Gordon Anthony (eds.), Judges, Transition and Human Rights Cultures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 33-53.

6). ‘National Responsibility for European Community Acts under the European Convention on Human Rights: Recasting the Accession Debate’, European Public Law vol. 7 no. 4 (2001), pp. 623-647.

7). ‘The European Convention on Human Rights after Enlargement’, The International Journal of Human Rights vol. 5 no. 4 (Winter 2001), pp. 18-43.

The Constitutional Development of the European Union

1). ‘Negotiating the Intergovernmental Conferences: Maastricht, Amsterdam, and Beyond’, in Klaus Larres and Elizabeth Meehan (eds.), Uneasy Allies: British-German Relations and European Integration Since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 277-298. [Co-authored with Nickolas Reinhardt]

2). ‘The Puzzle of Constitutional Asymmetry: Recent Canadian and European Debates’, Review of Constitutional Studies/Revue d’études constitutionnelles vol. 2 no. 2 (1995), pp. 305-341.

3). ‘A European Union of Variable Geometry: Problems and Perspectives’, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly vol. 45 no. 2 (1994), pp. 109-133. Also extracted in, inter alia., Stephen Weatherill (ed.), Cases and Materials on EU Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012/Tenth Edition), pp. 575-576.

Last updated on: 10 May 2023