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Chapter

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

This chapter examines the inhabitants of, and working visitors to, the Council of Ministers’s headquarters in Brussels. The Council of Ministers has always occupied an important position among the European institutions and in European policy-making. As a European Union institution, it is involved in all areas of EU activity, both by legislating in tandem with the European Parliament (EP) and by coordinating the member states’ policies in particular fields. The chapter first traces the origins of the present-day Council of Ministers before discussing its hierarchy and what the Council does. It then considers how the Council deals with the other EU institutions such as the European Council, the EP, and the European Commission. It shows that the Council embodies the enduring tension between supranationalism and intergovernmentalism as explanatory tools for understanding the construction of the EU.

Chapter

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

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

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

Richard Corbett, John Peterson, and Daniel Kenealy

This chapter examines five of the European Union’s key institutions: the European Commission; the Council of ministers; the European Council; the European Parliament; and the European Court of Justice. It draws analogies to these institutions’ counterparts at the national level while also highlighting their distinct and unique features. It discusses the structures and formal powers of the five EU institutions and how they ‘squeeze’ influence out of their limited Treaty prerogatives. It concludes by explaining 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

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

This chapter examines the components that constitute the Council system: the European Council and the Council of the EU (henceforth ‘the EU Council’ or simply ‘the Council’). Together, these institutions (the European Council and EU Council) form the part of the Union that unabashedly represents national interests in the European integration process. The EU Council is thus a site of intense negotiation, compromise-building, and at times acrimonious disagreement among the member states. Confusing to many academics and observers alike, the EU Council is not a single body, but rather 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, and all the way down the ladder 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 deeply 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

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

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

Helen Wallace and Christine Reh

This chapter examines the European Union’s institutional design and how its institutions interact with national institutions in five different policy modes. It first considers the evolving role and internal functioning of the European Commission, Council of the EU, European Council, European Parliament, and Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It also discusses quasi-autonomous agencies, in particular the European Central Bank (ECB), institutionalized control and scrutiny, and non-state actors. It concludes with an analysis of five EU policy modes that capture the different patterns of interaction between EU and national institutions: the classical Community method, the regulatory mode, the distributional mode, the policy coordination mode, and intensive transgovernmentalism.

Chapter

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.

Book

Edited by Dermot Hodson and John Peterson

The Institutions of the European Union explains the functions, powers, and composition of the European Union institutions. From the Council of Ministers to the European Central Bank, all of the most important organisations are analysed and explained. Updates for the fourth edition include discussions of the impact of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and the financial crisis in the Eurozone on the EU’s institutions, as well as the rise of Euroscepticism. Authoritative yet accessible, it remains the best guide to how this range of different bodies work together to provide political direction, manage policies, and integrate contrasting interests within the European Union. Each chapter includes helpful features such as boxes, websites, and suggested further reading to aid learning.

Chapter

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

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

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 policymakers, 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

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

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

16. Trade Policy  

Policy-Making after the Treaty of Lisbon

Stephen Woolcock

This chapter examines the decision-making process in the European Union’s trade and investment policy following the changes brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon. It shows how EU policy competence has been extended progressively over many years due to internal institutional developments, but also in response to demands made upon the EU by external drivers. It also considers the respective roles of the EU institutions and argues that effective policy-making requires that all of the major actors have faith in the decision-making regime. Such a regime involving the European Commission and the European Council was developed by the EU over many years. The challenge for decision-making is for the European Parliament to be integrated into this regime. The chapter explains how the EU has shifted to a policy that includes the active pursuit of free trade agreements in parallel with efforts to promote a comprehensive multilateral trade agenda.

Chapter

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.