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Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

Introduction  

Rory Costello

This chapter begins by describing the scope and main themes of the book, and explaining the rationale for the countries selected for inclusion. It discusses the prevalence of democracy in Europe, and provides an overview of some of the main similarities and differences between European democracies. A number of recent developments that have challenged the political status quo across the continent are highlighted. The chapter also outlines the general approach taken throughout the book, and discusses the importance of comparison in political research. It concludes with an outline of the book and a brief summary of its three main sections.

Book

Cover Comparative European Politics
This book provides a broad and accessible introduction to contemporary European politics, covering the fundamental elements of European democracies, institutions, and practices of government. It provides comprehensive coverage of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union, additionally drawing on examples from the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 focuses on democratic representation, examining the core features of electoral democracy in Europe. Part 2 turns to the institutions and practices of government, focusing in particular on how institutional design shapes political outcomes. Part 3 examines a number of contemporary issues and challenges, including migration, economic crises, the threat of international terrorism, and the rise of anti-establishment parties, and examines the effects they have had on politics in European countries. Throughout, up-to-date examples on issues such as Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic, and growing instability in Europe are used to help students understand the real-world context of European politics.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

23. The EU as a New Political System  

Simon Hix

This chapter examines the development and operation of the European Union from a comparative politics perspective. It first considers the evolution of the EU, from the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1951 that established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to the admission of Lithuania in 2015 as the nineteenth member of the Eurozone, and the UK’s decision to leave the EU in 2016. The chapter then explores the process of European integration and goes on to explain what it means to think of the EU as a political system. It also describes the two basic dimensions of the EU system: the vertical dimension (the EU as a ‘regulatory state’) and the horizontal dimension (the design and operation of EU decision-making). The chapter concludes by analysing the ‘missing link’ in the EU system— the lack of genuine democratic politics.

Book

Cover Foundations of European Politics

Catherine E. De Vries, Sara B. Hobolt, Sven-Oliver Proksch, and Jonathan B. Slapin

Foundations of European Politics introduces important tools of social science and comparative analysis. The first part of the book acts as an introduction to the topic, looking at democratic politics and multilevel politics in Europe. The second part moves on to citizens and voters, considering issues related to ideology and voting decisions. Part III looks at elections and introduces electoral systems and direct democracy, representation, political parties, and party competition. The next part is about government and policy. The last part looks at the rule of law, democracy, and backsliding.

Chapter

Cover Policy-Making in the European Union

3. The EU Policy Process in Comparative Perspective  

Alasdair R. Young and Christilla Roederer-Rynning

This chapter examines the European Union’s policy-making process with a comparative perspective. It outlines the stages of the policy-making process (agenda-setting, policy formation, decision-making, implementation, and policy feedback) and considers the prevailing approaches to analysing each of these stages. It also shows how these approaches apply to studying policy-making in the EU. Themes addressed in this chapter include policy-making and the policy cycle, the players in the policy process, executive politics, legislative politics, and judicial politics. The chapter argues that theories rooted in comparative politics and international relations can help elucidate the different phases of the EU’s policy process. It concludes by explaining why policy-making varies across issue areas within the EU.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

6. Theorizing the European Union after Integration Theory  

Ben Rosamond

This chapter deals with recent theoretical work on the European Union. Three broad analytical pathways are discussed: comparative political science; a revitalized international relations (IR); and ‘critical theories’. This chapter discusses in turn the contribution to EU studies of comparative political science in general and new institutionalist political science, and in particular the emergence of social constructivist approaches to the EU, IR’s contribution to the theorization of EU external action, together with approaches from the subfield of international political economy (IPE), and a variety of critical theoretical readings of the EU. The chapter also explores how IR theories might be brought back into EU studies. The purpose of the chapter is to show how the EU still raises significant questions about the nature of authority, statehood, and the organization of the international system. These questions are doubly significant in the present period of crisis, where the issue of ‘disintegration’ comes to the fore.

Chapter

Cover The European Union

1. Introduction  

Daniel Kenealy, Amelia Hadfield, and Richard Corbett

This chapter discusses the practical and analytical reasons for studying the EU. It presents the EU as a complex and innovative political entity, comprising its member states, its institutions, and its citizens. The chapter presents some of the key theoretical and conceptual approaches to understanding how the EU has developed historically and how it works today. Furthermore, it outlines three broad themes that help the reader make sense of the EU: experimentation and change; power sharing and consensus; and scope and capacity. Finally, it provides an overview of the chapters that follow, which cover topics ranging from an historical overview of the EU’s development to its institutional architecture, from its policy-making process to its democratic credentials, from its key internal policies to its growing role as an actor on the global stage.

Chapter

Cover European Integration Theory

12. Litmus Tests for European Integration Theories  

Explaining Crises and Travelling beyond Europe

Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse

This chapter deals with two litmus tests for theories of European integration. The first part asks, how and to what extent various approaches can explain the contemporary crises of European integration. It thereby tackles the question of whether European integration theories might have biased EU scholars towards ignoring evidence for (dis-)integration. While being more optimistic about the state of the Union than many EU scholars are, the authors of this chapter argue for a more differentiated conceptualization of integration as a continuous variable that takes disintegration, rather than stagnation or no integration, as the opposite value of integration. The second part of the chapter examines to what extent European integration theories are able to shed light on experiences with regionalism across the globe. It argues that they do provide plausible accounts for the emergence of regionalism around the world. Comparing regions points to important scope conditions under which European integration theories operate. When it comes to outcomes, however, they need to be complemented by explanations emphasizing diffusion to clarify why and when states are more inclined to pool and delegate sovereignty in some regions than in others.