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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.


The chapter analyses the Bulgarian experience of Europeanization: its achievements, weaknesses, and patterns of convergence with EU norms and rules. The chapter is structured in four parts. First, it offers a brief historical overview of Bulgarian accession to the EU. Secondly, the impact of EU membership on public opinion and political parties is evaluated. The third part presents the impact of EU membership on Bulgarian political institutions and governance. Finally, a brief comparison is offered with the Romanian experience of Europeanization. The underlying argument is that the process of Europeanization has been a slow one.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the European Union by asking whether it matches some key features common to many modern democratic systems: representation (whether legislation is adopted by representative assemblies); separation of powers; the executive’s democratic accountability; respect for fundamental rights; and whether competing political parties offer voters genuine choice. The chapter also clarifies some key concepts and terms such as bicameralism, democratic deficit, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Furthermore, it considers an alternative to representative democracy: the organizing of referenda to settle issues. Finally, it discusses the EU’s provisions for helping national parliaments scrutinize the participation of their government in EU institutions.