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Chapter

Desmond Dinan

This chapter focuses on the historical development of the EU. The history of the EU began when European governments responded to a series of domestic, regional, and global challenges after World War II by establishing new transnational institutions in order to accelerate political and economic integration. These challenges ranged from postwar reconstruction to the Cold War, and then to globalization. Driven largely by mutually compatible national interests, Franco-German bargains, and American influence, politicians responded by establishing the EC in the 1950s and the EU in the 1990s. The chapter examines the Schuman Plan, the European Defence Community, the European Community, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), enlargement, Constitution-building, and the Eurozone crisis.

Chapter

Desmond Dinan

This chapter focuses on the historical development of the European Union. The history of the EU began when European governments responded to a series of domestic, regional, and global challenges after the Second World War by establishing new transnational institutions in order to accelerate political and economic integration. These challenges ranged from post-war reconstruction to the Cold War, and then to globalization. Driven largely by mutually compatible national interests, Franco-German bargains, and American influence, politicians responded by establishing the European Communities in the 1950s and the EU in the 1990s. The chapter examines the Schuman Plan, the European Defence Community, the European Community, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), enlargement, constitution building, and the Eurozone crisis.

Chapter

Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán

This chapter comprises a very brief introduction to European Union (EU) politics. It aims to help those students who are completely new to the EU by drawing attention to some general background information and context, which should help to make sense of the chapters that follow. To that end this introductory chapter begins by explaining what the EU is, why it was originally set up, and what the EU does. The chapter ends by explaining how the book is organized.

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

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

This chapter examines the European Commission’s functions and structure, along with its role in policy making. The Commission initiates legislation, may act as a mediator, manages some policy areas, is guardian of the Treaties, is a key actor in international relations, and the ‘conscience of the European Union’. The chapter proceeds by discussing the debate on the extent to which the Commission is an autonomous political actor or simply an agent of the member states. Finally, it analyses the increasing challenges faced by the Commission in securing effective implementation of EU policies and its response to concerns over its financial management of EU programmes.

Book

Edited by Daniel Kenealy, Amelia Hadfield, Richard Corbett, and John Peterson

The European Union: How Does It Work? is a perfect introduction to the European Union, providing concise, accessible coverage of the main actors, policies, and developments in the EU. An expert team of leading scholars and practitioners cuts through the complexity to explain how the EU works in theory and practice. The book equips readers with the knowledge and skills required to master the subject. Helpful learning features throughout the text help to develop readers’ understanding of the EU. ‘How it really works’ boxes demonstrate the working of the EU in practice, and challenge readers to contrast this with theoretical perspectives. ‘Key terms and concepts’ boxes provide concise definitions or summaries of words and ideas that are essential to understanding the EU. And each chapter contains ‘Spotlight’ boxes exploring specific cases that highlight how the EU works, what it does, or how it has evolved. Taken together, these features encourage readers to think critically about the reality of politics in the EU. This edition explores ongoing challenges to the EU, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and the erosion of democratic standards in some EU member states.

Chapter

Daniel Kenealy, John Peterson, and Richard Corbett

This chapter considers the impact of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) decision to leave the EU. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum on continuing its EU membership. The UK voted to leave the EU by a narrow margin, but one large enough for its new Prime Minister (after David Cameron, who called the referendum, resigned), Theresa May, to call ‘Brexit’ (the process of Britain exiting the EU) ‘the settled will of the British people’. The result sent shock waves across Europe. This chapter seeks to explain how and why the Brexit vote occurred and what might happen—both to the UK and to the EU—as a result. Possible outcomes of the negotiations on Brexit are considered with a view to assessing their impact on the UK, the EU, and the future of European integration.

Chapter

This chapter examines the European Union's key decisions on enlargement as well as the EU's influence on its European neighbours and on the shape of European order. It begins with an overview of the ‘concentric circles’ approach adopted by the EU — then the European Community — to put off the prospect of enlargement and instead proceed with economic and political integration, while strengthening its relations with its European neighbours. It then considers the Copenhagen European Council of June 1993, the Luxembourg and Helsinki European Councils, and the EU's big-bang enlargement. It also analyses the EU's relations with South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, and the ‘wider Europe’. Finally, it explains why the EU member states agreed to a radical reshaping of the European order through enlargement and assesses the future of the enlargement project.

Chapter

13. Environmental Policy  

Contending Dynamics of Policy Change

Andrea Lenschow

This chapter focuses on the European Union’s environmental policy, the development of which was characterized by institutional deepening and the substantial expansion of environmental issues covered by EU decisions and regulations. Environmental policy presents a host of challenges for policymakers, including the choice of appropriate instruments, improvement of implementation performance, and better policy coordination at all levels of policy-making. The chapter points to the continuing adaptations that have been made in these areas. It first considers the historical evolution of environmental policy in the EU before discussing the main actors in EU environmental policy-making, namely: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and environmental interest groups. The chapter also looks at the EU as an international actor.

Chapter

This chapter examines the connection between German unification and the economic and monetary union (EMU), with particular emphasis on the relationship between the acceleration of European integration in the late 1980s and the seismic geopolitical shifts in Central and Eastern Europe, culminating in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Following a review of relations between the European Community (EC) and the Soviet Union on the eve of those momentous events, the chapter explains how the rapid integration in Western Europe became intertwined with disintegration in Central and Eastern Europe. It shows that the collapse of the Soviet bloc had a profound impact on the European Union as ten newly-independent Central and Eastern European states clamoured for membership. The chapter concludes with an assessment of EU enlargement in the post-Cold War period.

Chapter

Tanja A. Börzel and Diana Panke

The chapter first explains what Europeanization means and outlines the main approaches to studying this phenomenon. The second section describes why this concept has become so prominent in research on the European Union (EU) and its member states. In the third section, the chapter reviews the state of the art with particular reference to how the EU affects states (‘top-down’ Europeanization). It illustrates the theoretical arguments with empirical examples. Similarly, the fourth section examines how states can influence the EU (‘bottom-up’ Europeanization) and provides some theoretical explanations for the empirical patterns observed. This is followed by a section that presents an overview of research that looks at linkages between bottom-up and top-down Europeanization, and considers the future of Europeanization research with regard to the EU’s recent and current crises and challenges. This chapter argues that Europeanization will remain an important field of EU research for the foreseeable future.

Chapter

Tanja A. Börzel and Diana Panke

The first section of the chapter explains what Europeanization means and outlines the main approaches to studying this phenomenon. The second section describes why this concept has become so prominent in research on the European Union (EU) and its member states. In the third section, the chapter reviews the state of the art with particular reference to how the EU affects states (‘top-down’ Europeanization). It illustrates the theoretical arguments with empirical examples. Similarly, the fourth section examines how states can influence the EU (‘bottom-up’ Europeanization) and provides some theoretical explanations for the empirical patterns observed. This is followed by a section that presents an overview of research that looks at linkages between bottom-up and top-down Europeanization, and considers the future of Europeanization research with regard to EU’s recent and current crises and challenges. The conclusion argues that Europeanization, despite the crises the EU has been facing, will remain an important field of EU research for the foreseeable future.

Chapter

This chapter examines two important developments in the history of the European Union (EU): the signing of the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties. In June 1989, the European Council agreed to European Commission President Jacques Delors’s three-stage plan for monetary union by 1999, despite British opposition. In 1991, intergovernmental conferences (IGCs) were held on both monetary union and political union. The proposals of these IGCs were incorporated into the Treaty on European Union (TEU), agreed at Maastricht in December 1991. The TEU marked a major step on the road to European integration. It committed most of the member states to adopting a single currency and introduced the concept of European citizenship, among others. This chapter considers the events leading up to the signing of the TEU, from the Maastricht negotiations to the issue of enlargement, the 1996 IGC, and the Treaty of Amsterdam.

Chapter

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

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

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

The focus of this chapter is the emergence of the European Communities in the 1950s, their evolution in the three decades thereafter, and the establishment and early development of the European Union (EU) in the 1990s. The chapter explores key developments in the first five decades of European integration and some of the tensions that have shaped them. It considers the ambitions of the architects and supporters of the European Communities and how their hopes and aspirations played out as integration became a reality in the 1950s and 1960s. It looks at how their ambitions grew and how the process then lost momentum in the 1970s before the idea of ‘European union’ was rekindled in the 1980s with the Single European Act (1986) and the Single Market project. These acted as catalysts for a new era of dynamic European integration with the now expanded Communities at its core. The chapter then explores how, through the adoption and implementation of the Treaty on European Union (1992), the European Union was established. The chapter assesses the unique and incomplete form of the new ‘union’ and examines the impact on it of reforms introduced by the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) and the Treaty of Nice (2000) as the EU sought to prepare itself for the further enlargement and the challenges of the initial years of the twenty-first century.

Chapter

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.