The idea of the alternative State of the Union was born in 2023, when a group of researchers decided to organize a pilot event that was meant to provide an alterntive to the opaque, top-down, and elitist "State of the Union" conference organized by the EUI. This is not the first time such an event has been organized and we are grateful for all those that have come before us, such as the Colletivo Prezzomolo. They have nurtured the idea of the EUI as a space for serious, critical, and realistic discussions of what the EU is and what it ought to be.
We question the usefulness of the State of the Union as an uncritical and self-congratulatory event, especially in an academic environment such as the EUI. We, members of the EUI researcher body, believe that the role of academia is to question the status quo, to analyze, highlight, and critcize power, and to offer visions and enable discourses about possible futures. The EUI should not be a think tank for the EU and its elites, it should not be a place where eurocentric, technocratic, and elitist positions are formed and strengthened. It should be a place for research excellency, a place for diverse opinions, and intense debate.
We want to be able to produce tangible critiques and alternatives. Currently, the EUI constrains us to a straight and narrow path that does not equip us to do that. Events like the SOU reinforce the idea that our role as researchers is not to critically enquire into the realities of our world, but to craft self-serving narratives that address politicians and people in power. The SOU is an expensive event and the EUI is already implementing budget cuts which directly impact researchers and their ability to produce ‘good research’. Why is the SOU here?
We would like to know what purpose these debates at the "State of the Union" actually serve. What are the concrete outcomes of these debates and how do they influence policy? Why does the EUI, an institution that publicly emphasizes its commitment to diversity and representation, give a platform to guests who represent ideas and narratives that are reprehensible and have colonial roots?
With this, we are introducing the Alternative State of the Union. A place that we hope may function as a counterpoint to the "official" State of the Union, giving voice to the youth, to the marginalized, and to those often forgotten or silenced in the debates about Europe. A space that will seriously engage in the questions most relevant to the future of Europe and the project of european integration, not for the sake of integration itself, but recalling the original mission of the EU, "to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe", and to unite a continent in peace and solidarity and play its role in creating a more just and peaceful world.
We believe that another world is possible.
We want to warmly invite any researchers that may be interested in working on this project to join the AltSOU Taskforce by reaching out to the EUI Researchers’ Union via email.
We also invite everyone else interested in this project to join us in this exciting project.