Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg (Potsdam/Bonn): Politico-economic expertise in times of crisis: On law and economics in European expert groups


European expert groups, such as the “High-level Group on Financial Supervision in the EU” (de Larosière Report) of 2009 and the “High-level Expert Group on Reforming the Structure of the EU Banking Sector” (Liikanen Report) of 2012, have been in the limelight for two reasons: First, in times of economic crisis, such expert groups are seen as useful devices to not only engage in short-term decision-making, but also facilitate long-term policy development. Second, they themselves are the subject of debate concerning their composition and influence, especially following the release of the Commission’s White Paper on “European Governance” (2001) as well as the transparency debate sparked by Alter EU’s founding statement “Ending corporate privileges and secrecy around lobbying in the European Union” (2005).

Similar stakes are at the center of these struggles. On the one hand, discussion pivots around questions of how the economy should interact with other social spheres such as politics as well as how this interaction should be regulated. Here, different imaginaries of social order clash and are objectified in the form of e.g. economic and legal expertise. On the other hand, who is deemed legitimate to articulate her/his point of view due to her/his expertise? Here, speaker positions are assigned based on experts’ experiences, sedimented in disciplinary, professional, or social backgrounds. Analyzing the compositions and outputs of expert groups, some of which date back to the 1960s, allows for the reconstruction of relationships between EU political institutions and different forms of expertise that are rooted in professional, disciplinary, and other social fields in the longue durée.

The main aim of this presentation is to sketch a field-theoretical and methodological framework to analyze the changing constitution of expertise and experts on politico-economic issues in the EU since the 1960s. Here, EU expert groups will serve as the primary examples to be examined. Hence, this research project does not focus on expert groups’ influence on policy formation, but investigates economic imaginaries produced, legal regulations envisaged, and forms of transnational stateness created. (Dr. Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg)

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg studied sociology, political science, and economics at the University of Marburg, the University of Dresden, the University of Manchester, and the Humboldt University Berlin. After receiving his degree to work as a social scientist in 2004, he was a research associate in the Department for General Sociology at the Institute for Social Sciences at the HU Berlin, an editor for the Berlin Journal of Sociology, and a research associate at the Department of Sociology at the Otto-Friedrich-University of Bamberg. Since 2009, Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg has work as an academic researcher at the University of Potsdam. In addition, he was an associate member of the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at the HU Berlin as well as stipend-recipient and coordinator of DFG research training group “Markets and Social Spaces in Europe” at the Otto-Friedrich-University of Bamberg. He also received his doctoral degree there in 2012 with a piece on “The Role of Consultancy in the Changing Field of Management”. His dissertation was awarded a doctoral prize by the Otto-Friedrich-University of Bamberg in 2013.      

The focal points of his research include economic sociology, the sociology of knowledge, discourse and field analysis, and social theory.

Since April 2019, Dr. Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg has been Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study “Law as Culture"