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Exploring Parliaments in front of the multiple crises

22 November 2023 | Back to news list

My Summer School Experience in Rome

Summer is a time for adventure, and last summer, I embarked on a unique academic journey in the heart of Italy's enchanting capital, Rome. I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the 12th edition of the Summer Program, "Parliamentary Democracy in Europe", hosted by LUISS University – School of Government in cooperation with LUISS Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Sciences Po for European Studies and Comparative Politics. Held from July 17th to 21st, 2023, this program offered an immersive exploration of critical topics under the theme, "Parliaments in front of the multiple crises: From global to local." Today, I'm excited to share my experiences and insights from this captivating summer school. The summer program was intense, with a packed schedule of lectures, discussions, and visits to Italian governmental institutions. Yet, the unique charm of Rome provided the perfect balance between academic rigor and leisure. During our free time, my fellow participants and I explored the city's numerous historical sites, savored delicious Italian cuisine, and relaxed in the city's beautiful parks and piazzas. The warm weather made every outdoor excursion hard but even with the high temperature it remained enjoyable, whether by wandering through “Piazza del Popolo” or drinking a Spritz near the iconic Pantheon.

Understanding the Summer School Program

The summer program featured a diverse and intellectually stimulating academic program, which spanned a wide range of subjects related to parliamentary democracy and crisis management in Europe. The program schedule was packed with lectures, discussions, and even visits to Italian governmental institutions. It seeked to explore innovative solutions and foster critical discussions on the future of parliamentary democracy in Europe and beyond. By uniting an interdisciplinary group of renowned international scholars, particularly in the fields of constitutional and EU law, and political science, along with seasoned professionals, this program was a really enriching experience. From the opening day, where Jochen von Bernstorff from the University of Tübingen eloquently delved into the intricate web of challenges and responses surrounding democracy and the rule of law in the international legal system, to the enlightening discussions about the role of parliaments in times of war and constitutional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, each day of the program brought new dimensions to the complex world of parliamentary democracy in Europe. The summer school, set against the backdrop of the warm and vibrant Roman summer, ensured a holistic exploration of topics ranging from constitutional constraints in foreign and defense policy to the role of parliaments in foreign affairs. We delved into discussions on trust in parliaments, corruption scandals, and the pressing issues of climate change. Cristina Fasone from LUISS University discussed with us and gave us crucial insights on the challenges posed by digital transformation on parliamentary democracy. Ramona Coman, professor in Political science at the ULB but also the academic coordinator of the Horizon Europen RED-SPINEL project & the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Joint Doctorate Network GEM-DIAMOND, led us on an insightful exploration of the rule of law crisis in Europe. She skilfully unraveled its origins, tracing it back to the increasing contestation over liberal democracy and the rule of law. Moreover, she shed light on the European Union's response to this challenge and on how the EU’s institutions shape the rule of law policy. Our academic journey, in this Summer School, concluded with captivating insights from Giuseppe Martinico and Giovanni Rizzoni, pondering secessionist claims, referendums, and the role of legislatures, while also addressing the challenge of encyclopedic knowledge in the twenty-first century.

The program was more than a mere academic endeavor; it was an immersive experience that allowed us to grasp the intricate dynamics between democratic principles and the efficiency of governance in the face of crises, set against the timeless and inspiring backdrop of the Eternal City. With its funding from the European Commission as a Jean Monnet Module, the program not only emphasized the importance of parliamentary accountability but also celebrated the richness of European parliamentary democracy, making it an academic adventure that was as enlightening as it was unique. Overall, the summer school's theme, "Parliaments in front of the multiple crises," was not just an academic exercise. It highlighted the very real challenges that parliaments across Europe face as they navigate crises, ranging from financial and energy crises to environmental issues, the rule of law crisis. As we discussed in various sessions, these crises have forced a constant emergency mode of action, raising questions about democratic responsiveness, accountability, and the effectiveness of parliamentary action.


Participating in the "Parliamentary Democracy in Europe" summer school at LUISS University in Rome was an enriching and enlightening experience. It provided a deep dive into the complexities and challenges that parliamentary systems face in today's ever-evolving political landscape. I left the program with a heightened understanding of the role of parliaments in addressing crises and the delicate balance between democratic principles and effective governance. Although the summer school did not directly address the topic of EU trade agreements, the overarching themes explored, such as the challenges faced by parliaments and the dynamics of parliamentary democracy, offered me valuable perspectives for my research on the role and impact of EU Member States' parliaments in trade agreement negotiations and most generally in EU trade policy-making. Most specifically, it provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by constitutionalism and representative institutions in our contemporary world. It was a week well spent, during a hot summer, in the pursuit of knowledge and a deeper appreciation of Europe's parliamentary democracies. Rome, with its rich history and vibrant culture, provided the perfect backdrop for this exceptional academic adventure. Many thanks to the organizers and participants again.