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ERC Consolidator grant of 1.9 million to analyze legal concept of economic sovereignty

Published: 17th March 2022 Last updated: 17th March 2022

On 17 March 2022, the European Research Council announced its decision to fund the CaPANES-project. This project is an ERC Consolidator Grant of Prof. Dave De ruysscher of Tilburg Law School, who previously, in 2016, obtained an ERC Starting Grant. The ERC Consolidator Grant is funded for the amount of 1.9 million EUR.

The CaPANES-project (Causal Pattern Analysis of Economic Sovereignty), which will last five years, will analyze the legal concept of economic sovereignty from a historical perspective. The present-day notion of sovereignty of states does not adequately capture foreign trade relations, networks or economic clout. These shortcomings have resulted from a historical reduction of the meaning of sovereignty since the 1600s.

Networked cities of commerce

The project will analyze legal concepts of sovereignty that were developed before that time. Cases will be six networked cities of commerce (Bruges, Southampton, Rouen, Lübeck, Toulouse and Florence) in the period of 1400-1620. These cities were interconnected through trade routes, correspondence and diplomacy. Legal concepts depicting the cities’ sovereignty were crafted bottom-up and were often more encompassing than the legal concept of sovereignty of today, also for economic relations. These concepts absorbed changes taking place within cities and in the economic relations between cities.

Historical analysis

In the CaPANES-project, agent-based and network methods will be used to track down these changes. Developments at the level of individual cities, which will be analyzed with agent-based models, influenced institutional set-ups, constitutional approaches, the organization of trade and policies of access toward foreigners.

At the level of networks between cities, dynamics impacting on sovereignty concepts related to foreign relations and these added legal features that were different from those characteristics that resulted from developments within cities. Network analysis will make it possible to detect the dispersal and weight of sovereignty concepts and whether some concepts underpinned a transnational field of sovereignty.

Contemporary concept

Causal patterns underlying change in the concepts mentioned will be the outcome of the research, and following a comparison of historical with present-day situations, these patterns will be used to propose an updated legal concept of economic sovereignty.

This research fits within one of the four central research themes of Tilburg Law School, Global Law and Governance. The project’s team consists of the principal investigator Dave De ruysscher, one post-doc and five PhD fellows.