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Book

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

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

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.

Chapter

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.

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This chapter examines the history of European Union institutions, and especially the quasi-constant change that has taken place since the creation of the EU. It begins with a discussion of five phases of EU institutional development: the founding, consolidation of the European Community model, institutional change through task extension, reform of the institutional system, and the brief ‘constitutional’ moment at the turn of the century. It then considers the euro crisis and Brexit, along with the respective weight of state interests, ideas, and institutions in the evolution of EU institutions. It shows how institutional change in the EU seems to have followed a functionalist logic, leading to complex compromises that, in turn, prompt regular calls for ‘simplification’ and democratization.

Chapter

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

Brigid Laffan

This chapter focuses on the member states of the European Union. It first considers six factors that determine how a state engages with the EU: the date of entry, size, wealth, state structure, economic ideology, and integration preference. It then examines how member states behave in the EU’s institutions and seek to influence the outcome of negotiations in Brussels. It also discusses the informal and formal activities of the member states before concluding with an overview of the insights offered by theory in analysing the relationship between the EU and its member states. The chapter clarifies some key concepts and terms such as Europeanization, acquis communautaire, and flexible integration, and explains how the EU’s intergovernmental conferences work.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

John Peterson and Dermot Hodson

This chapter examines what is enduring about the character of the European Union institutions, however fragile the wider political process of European integration seems to be. It also considers where the EU as an institutional system has been and where it is going. The chapter begins by discussing the interdependence of EU institutions, noting that they are obliged to work together to deliver collective governance even as they and European governments try to solve multiple crises that sap political time and attention. It then explores the problems faced by the EU’s institutional system with respect to leadership, management, and integration of interests, along with the Community method. It concludes with an assessment of the accountability conundrum: how the EU institutions, in the absence of a truly European polity, can become more accountable to citizens and thus a more legitimate level of governance.

Chapter

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

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

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

13. The institutions of the Common Foreign and Security Policy:  

between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism

Ana E. Juncos

This chapter examines the institutional arrangements in the European Union’s (EU’s) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The chapter first charts the historical development of this policy, with foreign policy cooperation being one of the last policy areas to emerge at the EU level. Thus, many of the institutions operating in this area have only been recently established, including the High Representative, the European External Action Service, and many of the administrative bodies supporting the implementation of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, which comprises the EU’s civilian and military operations. The chapter then analyses the main institutional actors involved in the CFSP, focusing on their ability to shape the decision-making and implementation of this policy. The following sections also examine the five dimensions of EU institutional politics and how these play out in this particular area, highlighting the key challenges the EU faces in becoming a fully fledged international actor.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the external economic relations of the European Union—the longest-established area of collective European international policy-making and action—and specifically on trade and development policy. The chapter begins by examining institutions and policy-making for trade, in which the Commission plays a central role in initiating and conducting policy and looks especially at the Common Commercial Policy (CCP). It goes on to examine development policy—an area of mixed competence, in which policy responsibility is shared between the EU institutions and national governments. The chapter then proceeds to explore the substance and impact of EU trade and development policies, and to assess the linkages between the two areas. The conclusions draw attention to a number of tensions and contradictions in EU trade and development policy.

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

This chapter examines how the power of the democratic idea drives change in the European Parliament’s (EP) powers. The EP, the only directly elected institution of the European Union, derives its authority from national electorates rather than national governments and is therefore a transnational institution. Since the first direct elections in 1979, the EP’s powers and status have grown dramatically, culminating in the changes agreed under the 2007 Lisbon Treaty. Nevertheless, the EU is perceived to be suffering from a ‘democratic deficit’. This chapter first traces the historical evolution of the EP before discussing its decision-making. It then considers how the EP aggregates interests, what influence it exercises, and what kind of body it is becoming. It concludes by assessing various perspectives about the EU’s democratic deficit. The chapter stresses the importance of consensus mechanisms within the EP as well as those that link it to other EU institutions.

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

This edition examines why and how European Union institutions matter. It discusses the origins and development of EU institutions as well as their structures, functions, and powers. It also considers how a particular institution fits into the EU’s long wider institutional system, which theories help us best to understand the institution, and how the institution is likely to be changed by the EU’s long constitutional crisis and continued turmoil over the euro. This chapter provides a brief history and a taxonomy of EU institutions and considers the crises confronting EU institutions, including the referendum vote in the United Kingdom in 2016 to leave the EU. It also describes three competing theoretical approaches to the study of EU institutions: integration theory, the new institutionalism, and the separation of powers tradition. Finally, it looks at debates about the accountability of EU institutions.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

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.