Prof. dr. Francesco Nicoli

Prof. dr. Francesco NicoliContact details / research disciplines / publications

Personal website 

Question & answer

What is your research about?

I work on several topics at once. Most of my research focuses on the political economy of the European Union, on the ways the EU is governed, and how institutions and public opinion interact. I also work on institutional design and on experimental research methods. Finally, I have a keen interest in studying crises in European integration.

Why the interest in that subject?

The European Union is both the most important and encompassing institution ever created in Europe, and our best gift to the human-kind. For millennia, humans have known only one way of creating political unity from smaller entities - war, and conquest. We Europeans have mastered it in fact, and we have fallen victim of it at the heights of our own power. We have now invented an instrument - economic-driven supranational political integration - which holds the largest promise of all: unite divided political communities without war nor conquest. If the EU succeeds, it will make war redundant: a unique progress for humanity as a whole. But will it succeed?

Why is your research socially relevant?

The EU is an attempt to create supranational sovereignty without war- something that always eluded human efforts. It is a new, untested, perhaps dysfunctional path where existing national equilibria are upheld into a complex disequilibrium, which is then recomposed at supranational level. There are many things that can go wrong along this path. Studying the EU will allow us to ameliorate the whole process, avoiding similar mistakes in Europe and elsewhere. the EU is a pathfinder for supranational integration: understanding the process well can improve our societies across the globe a great deal.

What do you hope to achieve in your academic career?

I would like, in the long term, to help reforging the academic field of integration studies, which has somewhat faded since its peak in the 1970s.

What is the first thing you do when you have unexpected free time in your agenda?

I have so many interests that it is really hard to have "unexpected" free time. I have a lot of free time, though, because I plan for it: you cannot be creative if you are stressed; you cannot be completely productive either. So I always make sure I have free time, and I can assure you that it won’t be “idle” time! In my free time, I read sci-fi books (many economists do!), I study the dynamics of space-based economy (if the EU is a model for the ultimate global political order, space exploration and utilization is the final “high frontier”, in the words of great astronomer Karl Sagan!); I play computer games and paint miniatures.