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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.


Cover Origins and Evolution of the European Union

10. From the Single Market to the Single Currency  

Dorothee Heisenberg

This chapter examines how France's dissatisfaction with de facto German dominance of the European Monetary System (EMS) set the European Community (EC) on the road to the economic and monetary union (EMU) in the late 1980s. It first considers the conduct and outcome of the Maastricht negotiations on EMU before discussing the rocky road to the launch of the single currency in 1999 and the experience of EMU since then. In particular, it analyses the difficulty of enforcing the Stability and Growth Pact for fiscal discipline among participating member states. It also looks at the Delors Committee and the role of Bundesbank president Karl-Otto Pöhl. Finally, the chapter explores attempts to coordinate fiscal policy management as well as the onset and impact of the eurozone crisis.


Cover The Institutions of the European Union

16. The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions:  

consultative institutions in a multichannel democracy

Gabriele Abels

This chapter investigates the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR), two bodies established in 1957 and 1992, respectively. Both Committees are consultative; their rationale is to provide expertise to EU legislators and to represent functional respectively territorial interests. These organs share a number of similarities with regard to their legal basis and policymaking influence. Both have pursued diverse activities beyond their official mandates in a quest to find their own identities and exercise voice in the EU system. This chapter analyses these committees with regard to their development, membership, and activities, illustrating how both embraced timely topics and seek to involve themselves in the larger debate on the future of Europe. Thereby, they contribute to the EU’s development as a complex, multilevel, and multichannel democracy.


Cover The Institutions of the European Union

14. The Committee of Permanent Representatives:  

integrating interests and the logics of action

Jeffrey Lewis

The Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) originated as a diplomatic forum to meet regularly and prepare meetings of the Council of Ministers. It quickly and quietly evolved into a locus of continuous negotiation and de facto decision-making, gaining a reputation as ‘the place to do the deal’. This reputation is based on insulation from domestic audiences and an unrivalled ability to make deals stick across a range of issue areas and policy subjects. Most importantly, Coreper spotlights the process of integrating interests in a collective decision-making system with its own organizational culture, norms, and style of discourse. In actual operation, the Committee has much to offer institutional theorizing, as multiple ‘logics’ of action are discernible and often complexly entwined.


Cover The Institutions of the European Union

15. European parties:  

a powerful caucus in the European Parliament and beyond

Tapio Raunio

The party system of the European Parliament (EP) has been dominated by the two main European party families: centre-right conservatives and Christian democrats, on the one hand, and centre-left social democrats on the other, which controlled the majority of the seats until the 2019 elections. In the early 1950s, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) decided to form party-political groups, instead of national blocs, to counterbalance the dominance of national interests in the Council. Over the decades, the shape of the EP party system has become more stable, and traditional levels of group cohesion and coalition formation have not really been affected by the rise of populism and the increasing politicization of European integration. National parties remain influential within party groups, not least through their control of candidate selection. Outside of the Parliament, Europarties—parties operating at the European level—influence both the broader development of integration and the choice of the Commission president.


Cover European Union Politics

10. The European Commission  

Morten Egeberg

This chapter provides a general introduction to the European Commission, the main executive body of the European Union (EU). It argues that it is more productive to compare the Commission to national executives or to a government than to a secretariat of a traditional international organization. It begins with a summary of the Commission’s functions within the EU’s policy process. It then considers the question of Commission influence and autonomy, before moving on to look at the structure, demography, and decision behaviour within the organization—that is, at the role of the President of the Commission and the Commissioners, at the Commissioners’ personal staffs, and at the Commission administration. It then examines the committees and administrative networks that link the Commission to national administrations and interest groups, and the recent growth of EU agencies. The chapter concludes by emphasizing that the Commission is much more of a European(ized) and supranational institution than it was at its inception.