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Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

17. EU institutional politics:  

growing wiser?

Dermot Hodson, Uwe Puetter, and Sabine Saurugger

The establishment, consolidation, and transformation of EU institutions—in short, EU institutional politics—is the subject of this book. This chapter asks how the different institutions surveyed are situated along the five dimensions of EU institutional politics: (1) intergovernmental vs supranational; (2) international vs transnational; (3) separate vs fused; (4) followers vs leaders; and (5) legitimate vs contested. We show that while tension between supranational and intergovernmental bodies remains a key dimension of EU institutional politics, the four other institutional dimensions have become more pronounced, especially as the crises facing European integration have become more salient over the past twenty years. These crises have not had a homogenous or unidirectional effect on EU institutional politics. The chapter also looks to the future of EU institutions, including institutional tensions over EU–UK relations after Brexit and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

6. The European Parliament:  

powerful but fragmented

Ariadna Ripoll Servent and Olivier Costa

The European Parliament (EP) symbolizes many of the struggles that characterize the process of European integration and is at the core of many theoretical and empirical debates about representation, accountability, and legitimacy. This chapter draws on a variety of theoretical approaches to explain the complex role the EP plays in the political system of the European Union (EU). It starts with a brief overview of the history and functions of the assembly, followed by a theoretical explanation of its empowerment over time. Then, it determines the extent to which the EP is capable of influencing policymaking, both in legislative and non-legislative domains, as well as for the appointment of the Commission. It presents the political structure of the assembly and underlines the role of parliamentary groups and committees. It discusses the representativeness of the EP and the democratic quality of its internal functioning. Finally, it addresses current and future challenges for the EP.

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

2. The history of EU institutions:  

seven decades of institutional change

Renaud Dehousse and Paul Magnette

EU institutions have frequently been reformed since the origins of what is now the European Union (EU), and particularly so over the past twenty years. This chapter explains why and how this quasi-constant change has taken place. It begins by identifying five phases in this history: the founding, consolidation, relaunch, adaptation, and the current phase of reaction to functional challenges. The chapter then assesses the respective weight of state interests, ideas, and institutions in the evolution of EU institutions. In retrospect, institutional change in the EU appears to have followed a functionalist logic, leading to complex compromises that, in turn, prompt regular calls for ‘simplification’ and democratization.

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 The Member States of the European Union

9. Poland: Model European or Awkward Partner?  

Nathaniel Copsey and Karolina Pomorska

This chapter examines the pattern of Poland’s relations with the European Union during the period 1989–2011. Poland took an early decision in 1989 to place European integration at the centre of its plans for democratization and modernization. Post-accession opinion in Poland on the EU was initially divided between an increasingly Europhile public and an occasionally Eurosceptic political class. By the time of the Polish Presidency of the EU in 2011, however, Poland had largely shed its reputation for awkwardness and had achieved a few policy successes, particularly in relations with its Eastern neighbours. The chapter explains how Poland came to join the EU and assesses the impact of its EU membership on domestic politics, public opinion, institutions, governance, and public policy. It concludes by considering the re-emergent divide between elite and public attitudes since the 2015 elections and tensions with the EU over the rule of law.

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.

Book

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

Edited by Dermot Hodson, Uwe Puetter, Sabine Saurugger, and John Peterson

The Institutions of the European Union is the key text for anyone wishing to understand the functions, powers, and composition of the EU’s institutions. Written and edited by a team of leading international experts, the text offers a comprehensive analysis and explanation of all the most important organizations and their roles in the governance and management of the EU. The fifth edition has been substantially revised, featuring a range of newly authored chapters and including coverage of the most important developments affecting the institutions of the European Union as they contend with the changing dynamics of European integration. Up-to-date chapters examine current challenges, including the rise of populism and how it is wielded by politicians to target EU institutions, the climate emergency, and the EU’s bold new policy commitments to make the Union climate neutral by 2050, as well as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Authoritative yet accessible, The Institutions of the European Union is the best guide to how institutions work together to provide political direction, manage the European Union, govern policies, and integrate contrasting interests within the EU.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

16. The Court of Justice of the European Union  

This chapter focuses on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which comprises two courts: the CJEU and the General Court. It first provides an overview of the CJEU’s structure and functions, and then discusses some of its main rulings and their significance. It further considers rulings on the powers of the institutions, some key legal judgments made in response to questions referred to the CJEU by national courts, the impact of CJEU rulings on EU policy, and post-Maastricht trends in the CJEU and EU law. It also assesses the evolving political reactions towards the judgments of the Court, along with the debate over whether the member states have been able to effectively curb the CJEU’s radical jurisprudence.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

14. Interest Groups and the European Union  

Rainer Eising and Julia Sollik

This chapter examines the role of interest groups in European Union (EU) politics. It also considers the way in which the EU institutions influence interest group structures and activities. The chapter begins with an overview of the relationship between the EU institutions and interest groups and the proceddures of lobbying before examining the steps taken thus far to regulate that relationship. It then looks at the evolution and the structure of the interest group system, focusing in particular on two salient aspects: the difference between national and EU organizations; and the difference between specific and diffuse interests.

Chapter

Cover The Member States of the European Union

13. Europeanization and Member State Institutions  

Hussein Kassim and Vanessa Buth

This chapter examines the impact of Europeanization on member state institutions. Membership in the European Union imposes a variety of constraints and burdens on countries, but it also affords important opportunities and makes available significant resources. Integration initially reinforced the decline of national legislatures, but they have fought back in the last decade. National courts have assumed new functions and become part of a wider Community of law. At the same, the precise effects of the EU have varied cross-nationally as the demands of membership have interacted with differing constitutional arrangements, legal traditions, and political cultures. Moreover, national institutions such as governments, parliaments, and courts have left their mark on the EU and determine to a large extent the capacities of the Union as a system. The chapter considers how EU membership has affected national governments, national parliaments, and national courts.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

17. Organized Interests  

This chapter focuses on the so-called organized interests, whose interaction with the formal European Union (EU) institutions is a central component of the EU’s decision-making process. The term ‘interest group’ refers to a range of organizations outside of the formal institutions that seek to influence decision making. They provide a link between state actors and the rest of society, also known as ‘civil society’. The chapter first considers the general growth of interest group activity at the European level before discussing the types of group that try to influence EU policy making and the forms of representation open to interests. It then explores the strategies and tactics that interest groups use to try to influence the different institutions. Finally, it analyses the issue of regulating interest group access to the EU institutions.

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Cover The Member States of the European Union

4. ‘France is back’ … in a French Europe  

Olivier Rozenberg

This chapter examines France’s relationship with the European Union by focusing on the heterogeneity of adaptation to the EU. While public policy and legislation became increasingly Europeanized, the EU had a limited impact on political life and the domestic institutional system. This situation changed during the 2010s, as revealed by the 2017 presidential elections and the arrival of President Macron. The chapter considers patterns in France–EU relations before discussing the impact of EU membership on public opinion and political parties. It then looks at the Europeanization of French politics and the impact of EU membership on French institutions as well as public policy. The chapter argues that while domestic politicization is recent, there remains considerable continuity in other aspects of France’s adaptation to the EU.

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Cover The Member States of the European Union

5. Germany: A German Europe or a Europeanized Germany?  

Timm Beichelt and Simon Bulmer

This chapter examines Germany’s profile as a European Union member state. It is divided into two parts, looking at EU-Germany relations from both bottom-up and top-down perspectives. The first considers Germany’s increasing influence on the EU, notably during the eurozone and refugee crises. It considers the question of whether Germany has assumed the role of the EU’s hegemon. At the same time the chapter argues that Germany is a very Europeanized member state. It uses the comparative politics paradigm by considering public opinion on Europe, the European dimension of party politics, and the Federal Republic’s major political institutions and their role in European policy. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the two perspectives, seeking a balance between the arguments for a German Europe and a Europeanized Germany.

Chapter

Cover Policy-Making in the European Union

15. Justice and Home Affairs  

Exposing the Limits of Political Integration

Sandra Lavenex

This chapter examines the European Union’s justice and home affairs (JHA), which have evolved from a peripheral aspect into a focal point of European integration and today are at the centre of politicization in the EU. It first considers the institutionalization of JHA cooperation and its gradual move towards more supranational competences before discussing political contestation as expressed in the context of Brexit and the crisis of the common asylum and Schengen systems. The development of cooperation is retraced, looking at the main actors in the JHA, the organization and capacities of EU institutions, the continuity of intergovernmentalism, the proliferation of semi-autonomous agencies and databases, and the flow of policy, taking into account asylum policy and immigration policy, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and the challenge of implementation. The chapter shows how the gradual move of cooperation among national agencies concerned with combating crime; fighting terrorism; and managing borders, immigration, and asylum from loose intergovernmental cooperation to more supranational governance within the EU has remained contested, and argues that this contestation exemplifies the limits of political unification.

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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 The Institutions of the European Union

1. Why EU institutions matter:  

five dimensions of EU institutional politics

Dermot Hodson, Uwe Puetter, and Sabine Saurugger

The European Union (EU) cannot be understood without reference to its institutions. But scholars differ on the questions of what precisely EU institutions are, what they do, and why they matter. This chapter defines EU institutions as decision-making bodies. It refers to the notion of EU institutional politics as the sphere of informal and formal rules, norms, procedures, and practices that shape such decision-making. The chapter explores how different theoretical traditions—international relations, integration theory, new institutionalism, the separation of powers, governance, public policy and administration approaches, and critical perspectives—think about EU institutions. Drawing on these traditions, this chapter encourages readers to think about EU institutions along five dimensions: intergovernmental versus supranational, international versus transnational, separated versus fused power, leaders versus followers, and contested versus legitimate. Seeing how the Union’s decision-making bodies move within and between these dimensions offers a deeper understanding of why EU institutions matter.

Chapter

Cover International Relations and the European Union

5. The Institutional Framework  

Sophie Vanhoonacker and Karolina Pomorska

This chapter examines the institutional context of the European Union's international relations. EU institutions such as the Council, Commission, European Parliament, and the Court of Justice play substantially different roles depending on the policy area. Such variations reflect differing paths of evolution and the different degrees of integration in different areas of external policy. The chapter first considers how we should think about the roles of institutions before discussing some of the key ideas about the ways in which the EU's institutions work. It then explores how institutions affect three policy areas: the Common Commercial Policy, development cooperation policy and humanitarian aid, and European foreign policy and security cooperation. It also describes four propositions that explain why institutions matter and shows that that change in EU membership and in the institutional arrangements in the global arena has had important implications for the development of the EU's ‘internal’ institutions.

Chapter

Cover The Member States of the European Union

2. Member States in European Integration  

Christopher Bickerton

This chapter explores the role of member states in European integration. It first looks at the idea of member statehood, exploring its ambiguities and arguing for a more sophisticated understanding of what it means to be a ‘member state’ of the EU. The chapter considers in detail the role played by member states in the EU, highlighting in particular the centrality of member state governments and their power to EU policy-making and its institutions. At the same time it notes the relative absence of member state publics. The chapter ends with a reflection on whether there is a return of the nation-state, with its associated trends of nationalism and inter-state rivalry.

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Cover The Member States of the European Union

8. Sweden: Shedding Exceptionalism in the Face of Europeanization  

Anna Michalski

This chapter examines the adaptations that have occurred in Sweden’s political and administrative system following its admission to the European Union on 1 January 1995. Sweden became a member of the EU on 1 January 1995 after a long period of hesitation. After fifteen years of membership, reticence has given way to a more positive stance, best characterized as pragmatic support. The chapter first considers patterns in Sweden’s membership in the EU before discussing Swedish public opinion towards the EU and the impact of Sweden’s EU membership on the country’s political parties, political institutions, public administration, and sub-national actors such as the civil service. The chapter goes on to explore Sweden’s approach to EU public policy and concludes by comparing its experience with those of other member states, including Austria and Finland.