Call for Applications
Closing Date: 6 June 2019
re:constitution: Exchange and Analysis on Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe
Scholars and practitioners of law from member states of the European Union are invited to apply for up to 20 fellowships provided by re:constitution, a new programme that aims for a European exchange on constitutional law and values that leads from common words to shared concepts.
re:constitution is a joint programme of the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien and Democracy Reporting International (DRI). It is led by its Academic Director, Christoph Möllers (Professor of Public Law at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Permanent Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin), and a Collegium of legal scholars from different European countries that include Austria, France, Italy, Hungary, Spain, and the United Kingdom. re:constitution is funded by Stiftung Mercator.
In democracies the people’s will is expressed and limited by law: “Democracy” and “Rule of Law” address the same issue from different sides. Political dynamics in the countries of the European Union have shifted their intersection in a way that merits discussion and analysis.
The challenges of democratic self-government and Rule of Law institutions within the EU and its member states are well described and much bemoaned. Many of these are at the core political issues. Yet, law matters. At a minimum, governments want to be seen to act lawfully. Many believe to have the law on their side. All have freely committed to uphold democracy and the Rule of Law in their constitutions, in EU law and in other frameworks.
The conflicts are not between states, but they split societies of many member states and increase political polarisation. Legal researchers and practitioners have nuanced opinions. However, there are few fora in the EU for a more personal, in-depth exchange on these challenges and possible solutions.
re:constitution intends to establish such a forum. The programme promotes mutual, personal exchange and information between relevant legal actors from the member states of the EU focusing on the relation between law, politics and administration. It operates without the restrictions an formality of institutionalised legal exchange.
As the context is not static, but constantly evolving, re:constitution will also publish topical analysis to inform the public debate and to inspire the debate in the programme.
Topics like the independence of the judiciary, the separation and balance of powers, the merits
and dangers of administrative discretion or the institutional protection of democratic participation
could be on their agenda. To realize this idea, we will offer a tripartite programme:
— re:constitution fellowships for younger scholars and practitioners of law,
— re:constitution seminars for experienced scholars and practitioners,
— Regularly published analysis (by DRI).
re:constitution fellows will gain and share new experiences, reflect on topical developments and
learn from each other to make comparative judgments on how to organize and protect institutions
of democratic constitutionalism. Furthermore, they should try to (re-)build consensus on how to
describe current institutional problems, if not on how to solve them.
Who Can Apply
— Legal practitioners (i.e. in courts, public administration or NGOs) and (postdoctoral) scholars
of law and neighbouring disciplines at an early career stage who want to carry out projects of
their own choice on questions related to the re:constitution programme.
— All applicants need to be residents of the European Union (including the United Kingdom) for
the duration of the fellowship. Furthermore, applications from Switzerland are also welcome.
What We Offer
— re:constitution fellowships for one academic year, starting from 1st October 2019 until 31
— Within the fellowship, a six month stage at an institution of legal scholarship or practice of the
fellow’s own choice in a different EU country from the one they usually reside in; the stage can
be divided between a research institution and an institution of legal practice.
— During the stages, a monthly stipend of €2.500 (plus supplements depending on personal
circumstances) is granted.
— Personal exchange meetings: In the course of the academic year, the fellows will come together
for three exchange meetings of 3 to 5 days. The first meeting will take place from 23 to 25
October 2019 in Berlin, the second and third in March and June 2020 in other EU member
states. The curriculum of these meetings will be developed mutually by the fellows and in
consultation with the coordinator of the programme.
— Digital exchange formats for the fellows: The exchange between the fellows will be supported
by a secure digital working space provided by the Forum Transregionale Studien.
— New opportunities to pursue their own projects and participate in the exchange on democracy
and the Rule of Law in Europe.
— Access to a European network of scholars and practitioners concerned with the Rule of Law.
— Continuous support throughout the fellowship in all organizational matters provided by the
programme coordination team.
An application should consist of:
— Letter of motivation, including
• the names of one or more cities, and ideally indicate a preference of two or more institutions of
legal research or practice in a member state of the EU where the applicant would like to pass
• the possible dates of the stage(s),
• indication of existing personal contacts to the preferred institution(s) or of required support of
the coordination team of re:constitution,
— Description of a project (e.g. an essay, an academic article, a policy paper or a book), stating
what the practitioner or scholar will work on if granted a fellowship (2-3 pages),
— Curriculum vitae including publications (2-3 pages),
— Names of two references (university faculty members or practitioners in a field relevant to the
applicant’s project) who can serve as referees (no letters of recommendation required).
The working language of re:constitution is English. The application should be submitted by e-mail
as one PDF file (max. size 5 MB) and should be received by 6 June 2019, sent to:
The applications will be evaluated by the Collegium of re:constitution. All applicants will be
informed of the outcome of the selection process by early July.
The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien is a research organization that promotes the
internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. The Forum provides scope
for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and
appoints researchers from all over the world as fellows. In cooperation with universities and
research institutions in Berlin and outside, it carries out research projects that examine other
regions of the world and their relationship to Germany and Europe systematically and with
new questions. Apart from re:constitution the Forum supports four research programmes and
initiatives: Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices, Prisma Ukraïna—Research Network
Eastern Europe, Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship, and Europe
in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe (EUME).
Democracy Reporting International (DRI) is a non-partisan, independent, not-for-profit
organisation registered in Berlin, Germany. DRI supports and engages people who are working to
build, preserve and defend democratic and accountable institutions. DRI believes that institutions
play a critical role. People make change, but institutions preserve it. In a polarised world, DRI helps
local actors to protect and expand the democratic space that all share, independent of political
opinions, religious beliefs or personal preferences. DRI’s Berlin team works with country offices
to implement projects in different countries (Tunisia, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri
Lanka, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova) and undertake policy-oriented research. Global projects and
smaller country projects are also implemented directly from headquarters. Furthermore, DRI works
thematically on democratic discourse, including social media & democracy, as well as rule of law in
Europe. DRI’s projects are funded by the European Union, European Ministries of Foreign Affairs
and private foundations.
Stiftung Mercator is a private and independent foundation. Through its work it strives for a
society characterized by openness to the world, solidarity and equal opportunities. In this context
it concentrates on strengthening Europe; increasing the educational success of disadvantaged
children and young people, especially those of migrant origin; improving the quality and impact
of cultural education; driving forward climate change mitigation and promoting science and the