In the aftermath of the Second World War, for the first time in European history, former enemies created a political union in order to coordinate their economic and political activities. Over the past decades, this unique cooperation of sovereign nation states gradually led to the emergence of a supranational political system. Although today the European Union (EU) still is not a “real” state, it is not only made up of 28 European nation states but also of the EU’s very own institutions, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament (EP), and the European Court of Justice, which all possess unique powers to shape the lives of more than 500 million citizens in Europe every day.
This course will first introduce students to the history of the process generally known as “European Integration” and to the most prominent theoretical approaches developed in political science to explain both the integration process and today’s every-day decision-making dynamics in the EU. Equipped with the historical knowledge and the theoretical toolboxes, the following sessions will then focus on the EU as a political system with significant executive and legislative powers, and on how policies are made in this unique multi-layered system of governance.
Later sessions will focus on the democratic quality of the EU’s decision-making process and on what ways of participation are available to Europeans to have their voices heard at the supranational level. Hence, in-class discussions and guest talks will not only cover the functioning of the various EU institutions but also the dynamics of Europe-wide EP elections, modes of participatory governance, and EU lobbying by interest groups. Furthermore, the debates on both the EU’s “democratic deficit” and on public opinion towards the Union will be discussed and analyzed in class, with the general questions in mind: is a collective European identity possible and how the EU can deal with all the challenges it faces today?
Students from different countries, academic levels and backgrounds who are generally interested in European integration will benefit from each other in an intercultural and interdisciplinary learning process
The course is designed for students with different academic backgrounds and a general interest in Europe. A very good command of English is highly necessary.
Students are expected to attend each class, to read the literature assigned for each class, and to participate in class discussions and field trips. There will be a mid-term and final exam.
See course schedule. A course reader will be provided.