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Chapter

Cover The European Union

4. EU Member States  

Ramona Coman and Daniel Kenealy

This chapter focuses on the member states of the EU. It begins by considering how two different theories—liberal intergovernmentalism and postfunctionalism—explain member states’ engagement with the EU and the different visions of EU integration held by the member states. It goes on to explore the important role of the member states in the EU’s decision-making processes with a focus on the coalitions and cleavages among the member states, the importance of the rotating presidency of the Council (of ministers), and the increasing role of the European Council in setting the EU’s political agenda. The chapter discusses key concepts such as Europeanization, euroscepticism, and differentiated integration, which help understand the challenges faced by a Union of 27 diverse member states.

Chapter

Cover Origins and Evolution of the European Union

9. From Deadlock to Dynamism  

The European Community in the 1980s

N. Piers Ludlow

This chapter examines the origins of the European Community's (EC) transformation, arguing that the most important factor was the emergence of a new degree of consensus among economic and political leaders about what ‘Europe’ should do. In the course of the mid-1980s, the EC went from being a seemingly moribund entity to a rapidly developing success story. The launch of the single market programme revitalized the EC, helped it overcome long-standing institutional paralyses, created onward pressure for yet more integration, and forced the rest of the world to pay heed to the European integration process once more. The chapter explains how the apparently narrow target of establishing an internal market within the EC encouraged multiple other efforts to integrate Western Europe more closely. It also considers the important role played by national governments and the European Council in shaping the direction of European integration.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

14. Enlargement, the Neighbourhood, and European Order  

Karen E. Smith

This chapter examines the European Union's key decisions on enlargement as well as the EU's influence on its European neighbours and on the shape of European order. It begins with an overview of the ‘concentric circles’ approach adopted by the EU — then the European Community — to put off the prospect of enlargement and instead proceed with economic and political integration, while strengthening its relations with its European neighbours. It then considers the Copenhagen European Council of June 1993, the Luxembourg and Helsinki European Councils, and the EU's big-bang enlargement. It also analyses the EU's relations with South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, and the ‘wider Europe’. Finally, it explains why the EU member states agreed to a radical reshaping of the European order through enlargement and assesses the future of the enlargement project.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

14. The European Council and the Council of the European Union (EU)  

This chapter focuses on two European Union (EU) institutions that are principally composed of government representatives: the European Council and the Council of the EU. By virtue of their composition of government representatives (government heads, ministers, and civil servants), both the European Council and the Council of the EU remain part of a hierarchy of EU institutions. The chapter first provides an overview of definitions and distinctions, before discussing the intergovernmentalism of the European Council and how the Council of the European Union helped increase the supranationalism of the EU. It also considers the role of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) and various preparatory committees.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

4. The Council of the European Union:  

co-legislator, coordinator, and executive power

Uwe Puetter

The Council is an institution of day-to-day policymaking in which the interests of member state governments are represented by cabinet ministers who meet, according to their policy portfolio, in different Council configurations and within the Eurogroup. According to the Treaty of Lisbon, the Council has a dual mandate. It acts as a legislative organ as well as an executive and policy-coordinating institution. This dual role is reflected in the organization and meeting practices of the different Council configurations. Those groupings of ministers dealing primarily with executive decisions and policy coordination tend to meet more often and are regarded as being more senior than those formations of the Council which engage predominantly in legislative decision-making. As a legislative institution, the Council has increasingly acquired features of an upper chamber in a bicameral separation of powers system, working in tandem with the European Parliament. In contrast, Council decision-making relating to executive issues and policy coordination in important policy domains, such as economic governance and foreign policy, is closely aligned with the European Council. In these areas, the Council can be considered to constitute, together with the Commission, a collective EU executive.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

11. The European Council and the Council of the European Union  

Jeffrey Lewis

This chapter examines the components that constitute the Council system: the European Council and the Council of the EU. Together, these institutions form the part of the Union that unabashedly represents national interests in the European integration process. The EU Council is a site of intense negotiation, compromise-building, and at times acrimonious disagreement among the member states. The EU Council is not a single body, but a composite of national officials working at different levels of political seniority and policy specialization. From the heads of state and government to the ministers, down to the expert-level fonctionnaires (officials), the EU Council and the European Council embed governments of the EU into a networked club of collective decision-making that penetrates into the national capitals and domestic politics of the member states. In authority, scope, and procedural methods, the Council system represents the most advanced, intensive forum of international cooperation between sovereign nation states in the modern world.

Chapter

Cover The European Union

3. The EU’s Institutions  

Richard Corbett, Daniel Kenealy, and Amelia Hadfield

It is impossible to understand the EU without a careful study of its key institutions and how they work. This chapter examines the six key institutions of the EU: the European Commission; the Council (of ministers); the European Council; the European Parliament; the Court of Justice of the European Union; and the European Central Bank. The chapter discusses the structures and formal powers of the six institutions and how these powers have evolved in practice over time. While it may be tempting to regard EU institutions as dry and complex, they are also dynamic organisms exercising a unique mix of legislative, executive, and judicial power. The chapter explains why these institutions matter in determining EU politics and policy more generally, focusing on three central themes: the extent to which the EU is an experiment in motion; the importance of power sharing and consensus; and the capacity of the EU structures to cope with the Union’s expanding size and scope.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

15. The European Parliament  

This chapter focuses on the European Parliament (EP), the one directly elected institution of the European Union. It first provides an overview of the EP’s composition and functions, before discussing the struggle for increased powers within the EP. It then considers debates and research on the EP. The focus of contemporary research on the EP includes political behaviour and EP elections, the internal politics and organization of the EP, and inter-institutional bargaining between the EP, the European Council, and the European Commission. One theme of the academic debate is the extent to which the EP has become an effective independent actor in the affairs of the EU.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

4. The Institutional Framework  

Sophie Vanhoonacker and Karolina Pomorska

This chapter focuses on the European Union (EU) as a ‘power’ on the world stage. The institutional context of the external relations of the EU is complex, it argues. The roles of various places, such as the Council, Commission, European Parliament (E), and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) differ significantly depending on the policy area under consideration. The marked variations reflect the differing paths of evolution and the various degrees of integration these institutions have experienced in terms of different areas of external policy. This chapter focuses on the institutional basis of international policy in the EU. It asks how we should think about the roles of institutions and looks at some of the key ideas around EU international policy.

Chapter

Cover European Integration Theory

4. Liberal Intergovernmentalism  

Andrew Moravcsik and Frank Schimmelfennig

This chapter focuses on liberal intergovernmentalism (LI), which has acquired the status of a ‘baseline theory’ in the study of regional integration: an essential first-cut explanation against which other theories are often compared. The chapter argues that LI has achieved this dominant status due to its theoretical soundness, empirical power, and utility as a foundation for synthesis with other explanations. After providing an overview of LI’s main assumptions and propositions, the chapter illustrates LI’s scope and empirical power with two recent cases: migration policy and the euro. It closes by considering common criticisms levelled against LI, as well as the scope conditions under which it is most likely to explain state behaviour. This chapter concludes by emphasizing LI’s openness to dialogue and synthesis with other theories and reiterating its status as a baseline theory of European integration.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

9. Legitimate and Democratic? The European Union’s International Role  

Christopher Lord

This chapter examines the legitimacy and democratic control of the European Union's international policies. It first explains why, with whom, and by what standards the EU's international role need to be legitimate before discussing the issue of democratic control involving the European Parliament (EP) and national parliaments. More specifically, it considers the member states' mantra that the legitimacy of EU decisions is ‘founded on the principle of representative democracy’, delivered through the representation of citizens in the EP and national democracies in the European Council, the Councils, and their own national parliaments. It also emphasizes the great variety in the EU's international policy procedures and concludes by assessing how legitimacy might enable or constrain the development of the EU as an international actor.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

10. From Amsterdam to Lisbon (2000–09)  

This chapter examines the new strategy adopted in March 2000 by a special European Council in Lisbon to make the European Union (EU) more competitive, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Amsterdam Treaty had scarcely entered into force before further Treaty reform emerged on the agenda. Throughout the year 2000, a new intergovernmental conference met to address outstanding institutional issues that had not been settled at Amsterdam. It concluded in December 2000 with the longest European Council in history, which led to the Treaty of Nice. The chapter first considers the Nice Treaty, before discussing the Lisbon Strategy, the European Security and Defence Policy, the Constitutional Treaty, the issue of enlargement, the European Parliament (EP), and the nomination of a new European Commission. It ends with a discussion of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

8. The Revival of European Integration (the Mid-1970s to the Late 1980s)  

This chapter examines the revival of European integration from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. It first considers leadership changes in the European Commission before turning to the European Council and the European Monetary System (EMS), the Commission’s southern enlargements, and the British budget rebate. It then discusses leadership changes in the Commission from 1981 to 1982, the Single European Act (SEA), and the European Council meeting at Fontainebleau in June 1984. It also looks at the initiatives of various Commission presidents such as Roy Jenkins, Gaston Thorn, and Jacques Delors. Finally, it describes the implementation of the SEA, widely seen as the big breakthrough in the revival of European integration.

Chapter

Cover Policy-Making in the European Union

13. Environmental Policy  

Contending Dynamics of Policy Change

Andrea Lenschow

This chapter focuses on the European Union’s environmental policy, the development of which was characterized by institutional deepening and the substantial expansion of environmental issues covered by EU decisions and regulations. Environmental policy presents a host of challenges for policy-makers, including the choice of appropriate instruments, improvement of implementation performance, and better policy coordination at all levels of policy-making. The chapter points to the continuing adaptations that have been made in these areas. It first considers the historical evolution of environmental policy in the EU before discussing the main actors in EU environmental policy-making, namely: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and environmental interest groups. The chapter also looks at the EU as an international actor.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

14. The EU’s Security and Defence Policy: A New Leap Forward?  

Jolyon Howorth

This chapter examines the ways in which, since the late 1990s, the European Union (EU) has tried to emerge as an effective security and defence actor, albeit one focused on overseas missions connected not with expeditionary warfare but with crisis management and regional stabilization. It starts off by analysing the theoretical approaches to the emergence of this new policy area. It then addresses the empirical factors which caused the EU to tackle new and significant security challenges. Next, it considers the implications for international relations of the EU’s emergence as a security actor and the significance of the EU’s forty overseas missions. Finally, it analyses the developments since the publication of the 2016 European Global Strategy document in the context of new and serious security threats in its Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods. These developments were given sharper focus by Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, intensifying the debate on the EU’s desire to acquire ‘strategic autonomy’. Finally, the chapter examines the growing debate over the EU’s capacity to defend itself from external aggression without overt US support and suggests the contours of a new transatlantic bargain.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

12. The Institutional Architecture  

This chapter examines the pattern of European Union (EU) institutions and the formal rules that govern them. It first considers the Treaties that form the founding ‘constitutional’ documents of the EU, from the Treaty of Paris to the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the economic and monetary union (EMU), before turning to the main institutions involved in the processes of decision making, namely: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament, plus two consultative committees, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. The chapter proceeds by analysing the Union method of decision making, focusing on the budgetary and legislative procedures, as well as the process on the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also discusses the implementation of EU decisions once they have been made, and concludes with some reflections on the post-Lisbon institutional architecture of the EU, including differentiated integration.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

7. The First Years of the European Economic Community (the 1960s and into the 1970s)  

This chapter focuses on the first years of the European Economic Community (EEC). It describes the early 1960s as a period of apparent success for the supranational elements within the EEC, noting the rapid progress made towards the creation of both a common market and a common agricultural policy. The chapter also examines the crisis sparked by France’s decision to boycott meetings of the Council of Ministers in response to proposals for a more supranational method of funding the EEC budget; the impact of this crisis on the process of European integration; the so-called Luxembourg Compromise; and the Hague Summit. It concludes by discussing the EEC’s expansion of its membership at the start of the 1970s, as well as its first moves towards an Economic and Monetary Union and a Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

3. The European Council:  

the Union’s supreme decision-maker

Luuk van Middelaar and Uwe Puetter

This chapter discusses the central role of the European Council in European Union (EU) politics and policymaking. Even though it was not listed among the EU’s core institutions until the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council regularly intervenes in EU decision-making to make other institutional actors follow its guidance. Initially, it was meant to be predominantly an informal institution for direct exchanges between the heads of state or government of the member states. Yet it assumed responsibility for landmark decisions which paved the way for key steps in integration, such as EU enlargements and the euro. The European Council has arguably saved the Union from break-up by acting as its ultimate crisis manager and, at times, has skirted the boundaries of EU law by finding institutional compromises and fixes. The institution plays a guiding role, especially in relation to the Commission and the Council of the European Union, which was formerly known as the Council of Ministers. The European Council devises strategic guidelines for policy development, shapes processes of institutional reform, and breaks impasses when agreement cannot otherwise be found. Since the Treaty of Maastricht, European Council intervention has become a routine in new EU policy areas, such as euro area economic governance and foreign policy. The Treaty of Lisbon assigns the European Council its own full-time president and places the institution right after the European Parliament (EP) in the list of EU institutions. Even though it has shaped European integration since 1975, the European Council did not find much recognition in traditional theories of European integration. This has changed more recently, with renewed debate about intergovernmentalism in EU politics.

Chapter

Cover Exploring Parliament

19. Scrutiny by the House of Lords  

Patrick Milner

This chapter examines the scrutiny function of the House of Lords. It first provides an overview of conventions informing the scrutiny role of the House of Lords, including the Salisbury Convention and the financial privilege of the House of Commons which concerns its special right to decide levels of public taxation and public spending. It also considers the position of the House of Lords with respect to secondary legislation before discussing the many different ways in which the House of Lords fulfils its scrutiny function, such as scrutinizing draft primary legislation as part of the legislative process, as well as secondary legislation in committees; conducting in-depth inquiries; investigating matters of public policy in committees; questioning the government through oral and written questions; participating in debates on current issues and the findings of committees; and scrutinizing the government's actions in the Council of the European Union.