The Pierre du Bois Prize 2008 – Katrin Milzow

The Annual Pierre du Bois Prize was awarded to Dr. Katrin Milzow in October 2008 for her thesis entitled, « ‘National interests’ and European integration: Discourse and Politics (1997-2004) » and defended under the supervision of Professor Bruno Arcidiacono, after having worked for several years under the supervision of Professor Pierre du Bois.

Madame Irina du Bois, Dr. Katrin Milzow et Prof. Philippe Burrin


The thesis analyses the public statements by the Heads of State or Government of Britain, France, and Germany between 1997 and 2004 on European Security and Defence Policy, agricultural policy, and the EU’s recent eastern enlargements. It asks whether political discourse amounts to anything but random rhetoric, how it relates to events and policy priorities, and what it might say about the underlying dynamics of European integration. As a conceptual, legitimising, and bargaining tool, political discourse may not only be indicative of events but may also contribute directly to the dynamics of European politics. Focussing on discourses of ‘national interest’, the study finds that they constitute a focal point for domestic legitimisation but also underlie calls for compromise, thus building a bridge to the ‘European’. Notwithstanding concerns about a (re)nationalisation of European politics, it then seems that discourses of ‘national interests’ may play a constructive role in the process of integration.


The Pierre du Bois Prize is awarded annually to the best doctoral thesis in contemporary history written in the International History Department at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva. It is worth 5000 CHF.