Shared Flashcard Set


Politics of the European Union
based on Herman Lelieveldt and Sebastiaan Princen
Political Studies

Additional Political Studies Flashcards




Institutions of EU as outlined in Art 13 TEU
  • European Council - Executive, rep. MS
  • Council - Executive, Legislative, rep. MS
  • European Commission - Executive, rep. Union
  • European Parliament - Legislative, rep. citizens
  • Court of Justice of the EU, Judicial, rep. Union
  • European Central Bank, Executive, rep. Union
  • Court of Auditors, Control, rep. Union


European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

Committee of the Regions (CoR)


Intergovernmental institutions
EU institutions that represent the member states. European Council and Council
Supranational Institutions
All those institutions that represent the general interest of the EU (Commission, Court of Justice, European Central Bank and Court of Auditors) as well as the European Parliament.
Allocation of Executive tasks

(giving political direction, implementing policies and externally representing the EU)

  • European Council provides political direction and represents the EU externally
  • Council's executive role consists of implementation of policies
  • The commission initiates legislation, implements policies and represents the EU externally
  • European Central bank implements monetary policy
Legislative tasks


Examining, modifying and adopting legislative measures

  • European Parliament, rep. Citizens
  • Council, rep. MS

somewhat similar to a bicameral system


EP and Council cannot initiate legislative proposals.

Bicameral legislature
Legislature consisting of two houses. In federal systems one house represents the citizens, while the other house represents the constituent states.
Judicial tasks

Interpreting EU law and adjudication of of conflicts involving EU institutions, MS and all other parties involved.


Court of Justice


Supportive tasks
  • Court of Auditors examines EU revenues and expenses, used by EP and Council to exercesise control over budget.
  • Economic and Social Committee and Committee of Regions are advisory bodies to Council, EP and Commission. Usually Commission sends all draft proposals for legislation to these bodies.
European Council (members)

Founded 1974, consisting of heads of government and heads of state, additionally

  • President of European Council (not rotating president)
  • High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (also member of Commission)
  • President of the Commission (ensures coordination with activities of commission)



European Council (tasks)

No legislative powers (TEU), importance is gained through politicial leverage the MS have.


  • Providing political direction (Art. 15 TEU), sets long-term agenda in internal policies and CFSP. Large projects usually first discussed there. Also major role in accession.
  • Problem solver and arbiter. Ultimate intergovernmental decision body if Council does not agree. E.g. irish rejection of treaty, financial contribution of UK
  • Treaty revisions. Simply majority vote to call convention for treaty revision, which are examined by intergovernmental conference (IGC). Can also revise treaty provisions regarding EU internal policies (enumerated in Part III TFEU)
  • Appointments. Own President, Commission President, High Representative (latter two need confirmation of EP) + members of ECB executive board



European Council (Organization and decision making)

meets 4 times a year for two days (can be called more often)


Prepared by General Affairs Council (one configuration of Council), President explores MS positions.


First meeting with EP president on generally important issues, then working sessions and working dinner.


During the night President will finalize draft and conclusions. Working session on CFSP, press conference.


PA of permanent representatives (Antici) are briefed every twenty minutes on main points of discussions.


Art. 15.4 TEU: decisions unanimously unless otherwise noted (e.g. appointment of President)

The Council

Has say over all of the EUs policies, major policy-making organ in CFSP.


Operates in different configurations, which focus on specific policy areas. MS can determine representative as long as they are on "ministerial level who may commit the government of the MS and cast its vote" (Art. 16.2 TEU)


Can also send Permament Representatives

Permanent Representative
Member States' ambassadors to the EU who reside in Brussels and prepare much of the work of the European Council and Council.
Council - tasks

both legislative and executive tasks


Legislator on all internal EU policies (co-legilsator with EP), "one of legislative chambers". Concludes international agreements with third countries and international bodies.


Executive: responsible for EUs external relations through CFSP. HR responsible for implementing these policies. Also declares states as candidate member and decides on their compliance with copenhagen criteria.

Council - organization (I)

ten different configurations

  1. General Affairs (11 meetings)
  2. Foreign Affairs (10 meetings)
  3. Economic and Fincancial Affairs (ECOFIN, 11 meetings)
  4. Agriculture and Fisheries  (10 meetings)
  5. Transport, Telecommunication and Energy (6 meetings)
  6. Cooperation in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs (JAH, 6 meetings)
  7. Environment (5 meetings)
  8. Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (4 meetings)
  9. Competitiveness (4 meetings)
  10. Education, Youth and Culture (3 meetings)
Council - organization (II)

rotating chair, according to Council presidency (Foreign Affairs Council always chaired by HR)


Usually limited room for manouvering:

  1. largely debating and deciding on legislation in progress, which is intiated by Commission
  2. Outside factors may affect issues MS want to press forward.
  3. More success usually achieved by facilitating than dominating

also shows general tendency for incremental steps in EU, not grand plans


Council - Coreper

Committee of permanent representatives. Highes preparatory body for meetings of Council and European Council.


Corper I: attended by deputy permanent representatives (technical issues in specific policy areas)


Coreper II: attended by permanent representatives, dicuss political, financial and foreign policy issues.

Council (Coreper Part II)

Additional committees exist (Special Committee on Agriculture, Political and Security Committee)


80% of all Council decisions are decided by Committees (A-Points). Council has time to discuss B-Points, which require further discussion.


Council also takes executive decisions, such as extending sanctions and continuation of external missions.


Art. 17 TEU

acts in Unions interest


president nominated by European Council, approved by EP

Each MS nominated commissioner in coordination with president, approved by EP (only whole collegiate can be confirmed or rejected)

Commission (tasks)
  1. Preparing and initiating legislation (except CFSP and some areas such as police), also manages legislative process with EP and Council
  2. Implementing policies (managing budget, programmes, executive decisions)
  3. External representation (e.g. trade)
  4. Guardian of the treaties

1-3 normal executive roles, 4 special because usually not task of national executive branch

European Parliament

Art. 14 TEU

representation by degressive proportional formula (min. 5 seats, max. 99 seats)

MEP are seated according to ideological groups, not nations


Generally similar to national parliaments but less extensive rights (no say in treaty revisions, does not determine composition of council, cannot summon witnesses for inquiries)

European Parliament - tasks
  1. Budgetary Powers - since Lisbon ability do modify any expenditzre if in keepin with multiannual framework
  2. Legislative powers - SEA gave first real powers, Maastricht elevated EP to same level as council, now renamed common legislative procedure, covering 95% of legislation
  3. Scrutiny of executive by a) submitting questions to Commission, Council and European Council b) set up commissions of inquiry (Art. 226 TEU), c) bring courses before court
  4. Appointment and dismissal of commission - approves President and collegiate of commissioners (negative power), can dismiss commission, but high threshold
Court of Justice of the European Union - tasks

General: Art. 19 TEU

  1. Reviewing legality of acts (Art. 261 TFEU), whether insitutions have acted within framework of treaties, courses may be brought by MS, EP, COM, Council, natural and legal persons if direct interest (locus standi) exists. "Actions for anulment"
  2. Establishing infringements (Art. 258 TFEU) if MS fail to fulfill their obligations of the treaties, "infringement procedure"
  3. Giving "preliminary rulings" (Art. 267 TFEU), advise national courts in application of EU law. National courts call CJ, then incorporate ruling in theirs

Depend on national authorities to enforce rulings, no enforcement agencies. Some limitation in specific areas, e.g. CFSP

Court of Justice of the European Union - organization

Three courts:

  1. Court of Justice, highest courts, all preliminary rulings, infringement procedures brought by COM agains MS, actions for anulment by MS to Council and EP. 27 judges, 8 Advocates General
  2. General Court, actions for anulment by MS to COM and by natural and legal persons. 27 judges
  3. Civil Service Tribunal, employment related issues between EU employees and respective institutions, 7 judges.
Key characteristics institutional framework
  1. legislative and executive powers are shared (unlike in most national systesm, favours compromise and collaboration)
  2. Executive authority distributed over 4 institutions, therefore clearly no presidentialsystem which centers power on president
  3. Not a parliamentary system because executive, or at least major parts are not elected/nominated by parliament
  4. Council and European Council can't be dismissed by EP
Systems to evaluate executive systems
  • majoritan, concentrates executive power and puts few constraints on it. Favours governing over representation of all interests (UK)
  • consensual, power is dispersed and restrained. Usually uses proportional system, so not one party has a majority, coalition building needed, emphasises broad support for systems, appropriate for heterogenous systems. Switzerland example, EU fits in as well


Legal Instruments

Art. 288 TFEU

  • Regulation, general application, directly binding in its entirety in all MS
  • Directive, binding as to the result to be achieved, leaves MS choice of form and method (e.g. national law)
  • Decision, binding in its entirety to whom it is addressed
  • Recommendations, no binding force

TFEU decides which instrument can applied in which policy field. Reflect amount to which MS cede authority


Directive leaves room for national circumstance, yet often exceedingly detailed.


CFSP has own instrument (Art. 25 TEU)

Decision making processes (general)

Can vary by:

  • role of COM (exclusive right of initiative or not)
  • role of EP (consent required or not)
  • decision rule in Council (unanimity or QMV)
Possible decision making methods (extremes)
  • COM has exclusive right of inititative
  • EP has full powers of amendment
  • Council decides with QMV

>"co-decision", since Lisbon ordinary legislative procedure, associated with "community method": supranational institutions play major role

  • COM shares right of initiative with MS
  • EP has advisory role at best
  • Council decides by unanimity

> does not exist, but some "special legislative procedures" come close. "intergovernmental method" MS governments play important role.


shows that procedures reflect tendency by MS governments to cede sovereignty.

Ordinary legislative procedure 1st reading

Art. 289, 294 TFEU

only COM initiates, except for some policy fields. Participation of EESC and CoR is indicated in treaties.


EP adopts opinion (single majority), either:

  1. agreement without amendments
  2. disagreement without amendments
  3. agreement with amendments

COM can adapt proposal


Council can

  1. Agree to amendmentsl, act adopted
  2. Not agree, formulates "common position" (2nd reading)
COM influence in OLP
If COM adopts amendment by EP, Council can adopt with QMV, otherwise unanimity needed.
Ordinary legislative procedure 2nd reading

Basically like 1st, differences

  1. EP has only 3 months to decide after receiving common position, CP adopted if EP misses timeframe
  2. EP can only make amendments
    1. that were already adopted in 1st reading
    2. treating elements in CP that were not addressed before
    3. that are aimed at reconciling Council and EP position
  3. EP needs absolute majority (i.e. of all members)

raises threshold for making changes


Options EP

  1. adoption (single majority sufficient)
  2. reject common position (act deemed as failed)
  3. adopt amendments to CP

COM gives opinion, agreement=QMV, disagreement = unanimity


Options Council

  1. approves all amendments
  2. does not approve all amendment (conciliation)
Ordinary legislative procedure - conciliation

Committee consisting of reps from EP, Council and COM


drafts compromise text, send to EP + Council vote by single majority (EP) and QMV (Council), no amendments possible





Informal processes in OLP

Institutions work on issues before it is their official turn


Commission, Council and EP meet in so called "trialogues" to assess the positions at those institutions


Negotiations between institutions before official decisions


Special decision making procedures


Differ in two categories:

  1. EP might not be able to adopt amendments, solely advisory role or none at all
  2. Council decides by unanimity instead of QMV

eg association agreements with third countries: adopted by qualified majority in Council, EP can only accept or reject.


European Council acts as appeal body in some cases if vital national interests are concernded and Council could not agree, in some cases this is a formal role

Decision making under CFSP

EP has no role in adoption of decisions, except for diplomatic service.


Commission has no right of inititative, acts are adopted by Council or European Council

Guidelines for Special decision making procedures

The more like the more higher the national interest in a subject matter is.

  1. Taxation and budget
  2. Judicial and police cooperation (touches on national soverignty, cases can be referred to European Council)
  3. Foreign Policy (decisions mostly unanimous by European Council)
QMV (general principle)

can differ:

  1. how votes are distributed between MS (extreme: 1 per MS, other extreme absolute proportionality)
  2. How many votes are needed to adopt legislation (e.g. 50%)
QMV (old)

Until 1. Nov. 2014 (use can be rquested until April 2017)

  1. minimum of 255 votes out of 345 (74%)
  2. simple majority of MS (14 out of 27)
  3. representing at least 62% of EU population


QMV (new)

based on population

  1. supported by 55% of MS
  2. Majority represents 65% of EU population
  3. decision can only be blocked by at least 4 MS

favours larger MS, makes taking decisions easier


90% of decisions are not put to formal vote (thus taken unanimously
MS parliaments and subsidiarity check

Art 5 TEU

Subsidiarity: "EU is only allowed to act if the objectives of that action can be bettwe reached at EU level than national level"


before draft is send to EP and Council, national parliaments receive it. Within 8 weeks they can issue a "reasoned opinion" which act violates subsidiarity

Subsidiarity Check (consequences)
  1. if 1/3 of national parliaments consider act a breach of subsidiarity, institution or group of MS needs to review it. (1/4 for criminal and police matters), they can maintain, amend or withdraw
  2. if more than 50% of national parliaments consider act a breach of subsidiarity, COM has to give reasoned opinion. Reasoned opinion of parliaments and COM have to be considered by EP and council. If 55% of council and simple majority of EP decide against act, it is withdrawn

actual effect unclear, because quite recent development

Open method of coordination

process which aims at convergence of member states policies through a process of benchmarking and policy learning, introduced by Lisbon strategy


  1. council determines objectives to be achieved in an area
  2. indicators are established for measuring attainment of these objectives
  3. Each MS formulates action plan for achieving objectives
  4. performance of each MS is benchmarked by COM according to indicators

Improtant role of council, used for cases in which MS are reluctant to binding legislation.

Consent Procedure

Special legislative procedure


introduced by SEA, EP can accept or reject, but not amend proposal (can make recommendations, conciliation also introduced), applications:


  • horizontal flexibility clause (art. 352 TFEU),
  • combating discrimination (Article 19(1) TFEU),
  • membership of the Union (Article 49 TEU),
  • arrangements for withdrawal from the Union (Article 50 TEU)
  • association agreements,
  • accession of the Union to the ECHR,
  • agreements establishing a specific institutional framework,



Political Participation
All activities aimes at influencing policies and/or the election of politicians
The condition of being in accordance with the norms and values of the people

expression of opinion not rooted in strongly held beliefs, which therefore can be very volatile


Quite prevalent in public opinion regarding EU issues 

Key Eurobarometer finding
  • support of EU increased in the 1970s and 1980s, decreased in the 1990s, then recovered
  • in some countries support has been relatively high and stable (Luxembourg) while others have seen increase (Denmark) and others have low and volatile levels of support (UK)
  • Important EU events such as accession of new MS do not suggest clear impact on approval rates
  • Important external events such as the oil crises do not seem to have a clear and consistent effect either
Approval ratings for EU membership

no clear connection between approval rate and old/new MS, small/large economies


Predominantly formed within national context, therfore opinion on EU not necessarily shaped by EU issues

Public approval for joint EU policies

Clear favour for policies that contain a clear cross-border dimension, such as fighting terrorism, defence, foreign affairs and protection of environment.


Least support for areas that involve transfer of money between citizens such as pensions, taxation, health and social welfare. 

Factors explaining public opinion I

Socio demographic factors

  • education: people with higher level of education are more supportive of EU (attributed partly to perceived benefits)
  • occupation: people in professional and managerial positions are more supportive of EU than self-employed or labourers
  • Income: support for EU tends to be higher among people with higher disposable income
  • Religion: Catholics are more supportive than Protestants because Catholicism has a long internationalist and transational tradition, whereas protestantism favours national sovereignty
Factors explaining public opinion II

General political evaluations

  • Interest in politics, people who are more interestend in politics and follow politics more actively are more supportive of EU
  • Political trust, people who are generally more trusting of political institutions such as parliaments, governments, are more supportive of EU
  • Support for government in office, people who support government are more supportive of EU than supporter of the opposition
  • Left-right, has little impact because national parties point of view towards EU is main factor, which can vary
Factors explaining public opinion III

EU-specific factors

  • knowledge and interest, higher level of knowledge in EU institutions and politics are related to higher level of support
  • trust, people who are more trusting of EU institutions show higher support
  • Economic benefits, people who believe that EU yields economic benefit (for indivdual or country) are more supportive
  • identity, people who identify themselves solely as nationals are less supportive of EU
Second order national elections
theory by Reif and Schmitt that EP elections are simply less important than national elections
Consequences of second order national elections
  1. voter turnout is lower (except if compulsory vote is in place)
  2. elections are used to evaluate national politics rather than EU politics
  3. people favour smaller parties which they would not vote for in important national elections because this would be considered waste of vote

one reason: lack of public european sphere, political discussions essentially take place in national sphere

give citizens vote on certain policy decision (direct democracy) which gives direct and explicit legitimation
  • membership referendum (or other fundamental decision)
  • treaty referendum

started 1972 by Pompidou to receive assent of french to accession of Denmark, Norway and Ireland

Referendums - influences
  1. attitude towards european integration
  2. second order consideration if no clear opinion on european integration exists
    1. moderate gov't supporters tend to vote in favour
    2. people tend to take voting cues from party



Referendums - importance

tend to better connect citizrens to EU matters, yet highly nationally influenced.


  1. focus on single issues, give voters clear choice
  2. outcome tends to be accepted by gov'ts

Generally clear message for more prudent integration from "permissive consent" to "constraining consensus"

Interest group and lobbyists

ca. 15.000 lobbyists (individuals trying to influence government decisionmaking on behalf of an interest group)

ca. 4.000 interest groups (group of persons sharing preferences regarding the outcome of gov. decision-making and organized to influence these outcomes withoud seeking office


number is increasing, which shows:

  • EU has become important policy-making institution
  • IGs think they can influence decision making
Types of interest groups
  1. European Trade Federations (representing a specific industry)
  2. Commercial consultants (lobby on behalf of changing clients)
  3. companies
  4. NGOs, public interest groups (either directly or through umbrella groups)
  5. national businesses and labour organizations (usually already represented by umbrella group, nevertheless might take up own action)
  6. international organizations
  7. think tanks
Corporatist system

Limited number of IGs have privilieg position in policy-making process (e.g. trade unions, employer associations)


examples: Austria, Germany, Netherlands most scandinavian countries

Pluralist System

many IGs exist but none has privilieg position in policy making


in contrast to corporatist system, this leads to less consensus seeking and more antagonistic relations.


Examples: US and UK

Lobbying system of EU

Generally pluralistic


EESC and CoR represents corporatist influences, Social dialouge (3 trade unions + 3 employer associations) as well. COPA/COGECA important corporatist group in CAP.


Generally corporatist influences have had limited influence on policy-making

IGs strategies

inside lobbying, lobbyist try to influence decision-makers directly, i.e. from inside (COM, EP, MS), thus becoming part of political discussion


outside lobbying, lobbyist try to mobilise public opinion in oder to pressure decision-makers into a certain direction (demonstrations)

Usage of IG strategies

depends on

  1. target of lobby: if target is sensitive to public opinion (politicians) outside lobbying is effective
  2. issue at stake: public opinion is easier to mobilise if it is a matter they can easily relate to
  3. organization and identitiy of IG: inside lobbying requires network of contacts, outside lobbying access to a significant number of people, both can not be done quickly, therefore group will use technique it has more experience with
Practical lobbying in EU

Inside lobbying the norm, outside lobbying rare, reasons:

> "political opportunity structure" how receptive decision makers are to certain claims and strategies (eg. COM and EP have little to fear from public opinion)

> outside lobbying usually done at MS level

> difficulties organzing European protest

> many issues in the EU are of technical nature


lobbyists target different actors: COM, EP, MS, ideally lobbying various groups at the same time, often coalition forging is important.


Assessment of influence of IGs

difficult, because

  1. lawmakers tend not to reveal actual influence of IGs, either exaggerate or downplay it
  2. policy proposals are influenced by many factors, not just IGs. difficult to isolate effect of IGs
  3. influence can also be exerted without any action (simple presence of IG can be sufficient)


Factors for the assessment of impact of IGs
  1. characteristics of IG
  2. characteristics of political system
  3. characteristics of issue at stake
Detailed factors for influence of IGs
  1. Characteristics of IG
    1. ressources main factor
    2. IGs have information that COM want (expertise)
    3. support of IGs increases political credibility of proposal (political support)
  2. Characteristics of political system
    1. EU as pluralist system, multilevel nature offers various options for lobbying
    2. less influence than in US because campaign financing not important issue in EU
  3. Characteristics of issues
    1. IGs are more successful when few or no other IGs are involved
    2. IGs are more successful when a comparably small circle of policy-makers is concerned
    3. High politics are difficult to influence
Evaluation of lobbying

raises questions of democracy

  1. do laws still represent the interest of the full citizenry or just particular interest?
  2. does the lawmaking process remain transparent?

however, lobbying can also offer alternative viewpoints, thus improving laws, generally two factors important to assess whether lobbying is appropriate and democratic:

  1. balance of interest groups (in EU tendency towards overrepresentation of business interest - countered by EU through support of NGOs)
  2. form of lobbying (informative or distortive nature)



Political Party
Group of like-minded people who organize in order to influence politics through winning political office
Common Assembly
Predecessor of EP and created 1951 as part of the ECSC
a more or less systematic and comprehensive set of ideas and beliefs about politics that guides the positions of politicians, political parties and/or citizens on specific political issues
political groups in EP
  1. Group of the European People's Party (EPP) - Christian Democratic
  2. Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP (S&D) - Social Democratic
  3. Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) - Liberal
  4. Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance (G/EFA) - Greens and regionalists
  5. European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) - Conservative Eurosceptic
  6. Confederated Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (EUL/NGL) - (post-)communist
  7. Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group (EFD) - Eurosceptic 
Evaluating political groups in EP
  1. ideological underpinning, groups tend to reflect distinctions on national level, can be classified as left-right
  2. ideological cohesiveness, as groups in EP are a collection of national parties, those parties vary sometimes considerably in ideology
  3. level of organization, some groups have little formal organization, while other are well organized 
Conditions to form an EP group
  1. at least 25 MEP
  2. MEPs from at least 1/4 of MS
  3. formed according to political affinities
Advantages for poltical groups

Rules of Procedure favour forming of groups and grants them advantages:

  • subsidies
  • guaranteed seats on committees
  • chair at conference of presidents
  • ability to table amendments (usually just for committees)

Groups also needed to mobilize sufficient votes, yet MEPs have to compromise their ideas to certain extend

"office seeking"
theory of coalition building, politicians seek to increase power to come or remain into office, therefore will build coalition to increase their chances
"policy seeking"
theory of coalition building, politicians want policies to be adopted, therefore they will aorganize along ideological lines (sheer size of coalition not main factor)
extent to which MEP of the same political group vote together. If all MEPs vote exactly the same, cohesion is high. If all vote differently, cohesion is low
Political cleavage
stable conflict dimension between political groups that is rooted in social differences between groups in society
set of parties that work together to achieve some political objective, for instance to create a government (in parliamentary systems) or to coordinate voting behaviour (in EP)
MEPs voting behaviour
To fulfill their potential, groups have to vote en bloc, however if for a MEP a conflict with national party exists, he might vote against group, because he depends largely on domestic party
Political cleavage in EP
  1. mainly left-right
  2. also pro-integration vs. Eurosceptic
coalition building
  1. case by case for each issue
  2. on broad set of issues (national parliaments)

No pol group has a majority, therefore coalition building necessary. Because EP does not elect government, no imperative to build coalition as in national parliaments.


Grand coalition between big three parties existed until 1990s since then they have also voted against each other 

European Political Party
  1. Must have legal personality in MS in which its seat is located
  2. Must either
    1. be represented in 1/4 of MS, by MEPs or in national parliaments or regional parliaments or assemblies
    2. have received in 1/4 of MS at least three percent of the votes cast in each MS for last EP elections
  3. observe the principles on which the EU is founded, liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as rule of law
  4. must have participated in EP elections or expressed intend to do so
List of European Political Parties
  1. European People's Party  (christian democratic, affiliated with EPP group)
  2. Party of European Socialists (social democratic, affiliated with S&D)
  3. European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (liberal, affiliated with ALDE)
  4. European Green Party (green, affiliated with Greens/EFA)
  5. European Free Alliance (regionalist, affiliated with Greens/EFA)
  6. Party of the European Left (Socialist, ex communist, affiliated with EUL/NGL)
  7. European Union Democrats (Nationalist, eurosceptic, no affiliation)
  8. Alliance of European Conservative and Reformists (conservative, affiliated with ECR)
  9. European Democratic Party (centrist, pro EU, affiliated with ALDE)
  10. European Christian Political Movement (orthodox christian democratic, no affiliation)
Political parties in EU

could be

  1. domestic political parties (compete in EP elections)
  2. political groups (coalition between MEPs in EP)
  3. European Political Party (association between domestic parties to cooperate outside EP)
Historical development of European Parties
  1. from ECSC to 1970s: after creation of Common Assembly socialists created liaison office, others followed suit
  2. direct elections of EP increased importance coordination, liaison offices were replaced by federations
  3. Recognition as Parties in Maastricht Treaty 1992
  4. Party Regulation through Nice Treaty 2000, parties now receive direct funding from EU (before this cam from EP groups)
Roles and functions of European Political Parties

mainly coordination of a party manifesto for EP elections


also try to coordinate activities at COM and Council, because most commissioners have party affiliation


EP elections are firmly in hand of domestic parties

Differences between domestic and European Political Parties
  1. Domestic parties structure choice offered to voters by presenting a limited number of clear alternative in elections (European Parties structure a wide array of domestic parties into a smaller set of European Parties
  2. Domestic parties aggregate interests by putting together more or less coherent packages of positions (European Parties formulate manifestod and facilitate exchange between domestic parties
  3. Domestic parties recruit candidates for political offices, European Parties do not
  4. Domestic parties form governments, European Parties do not
  5. Domestic parties form a liaison between state and voters/civil society, European Parties generally do not
Policy Areas of EU (almost) exclusive competence of EU
  1. External Trade
  2. Competition Policy
  3. Agriculture
  4. Fisheries
  5. Euro
Policy Areas - Strong EU involvement
  1. Environment
  2. Regional Policy
  3. Occupational Health and Safety
  4. Internal Market
  5. Tobacco control
  6. cross-border crime
  7. development aid
  8. transport
  9. research and development
Policy areas - weak EU involvement
  1. Social Policy
  2. Foreign Policy
  3. Defence
  4. Taxation
  5. Health Care
  6. Spatial Planning
Policy Areas - almost exclusively MS
  1. Primary and secondary education
  2. Housing
  3. Crime "on the streets"
  4. Culture
Types of public policy (according to Lowi)
  1. distributive policies (serve a specific group, eg building of roads)
  2. regulatory policies (set general norms for certain activities)
  3. redistributive policies (transfer money from one group to another - tax, unemployment benefits)

EU primarily active in 2 

EU budget
  1. Customs and agricultural duties in imports into the the EU "traditional own ressources" TOR - 12% (2010)
  2. MS contributions based on VAT levied, 11%
  3. MS contributions based on gross national incomce (GNI) - 76%

EU spends roughly 1% of European GDP

National states at least 30% of their respective GDP

Main budget difference to MS

EU has no

  1. own taxes (income tax or European VAT)
  2. right to borrow money

therefore it essentially can not play any role in macroeconomic policy


EU does not provide hospitals, roads, police etc. 

Main expenditures of EU
  1. Agriculture (CAP) 45%
  2. Cohesion Policy, 35%

furthermore R&D + development aid

Cohesion Policy - structural funds

Financial part of cohesion policy, objectives

  1. Convergence, support for economically weaker states to reduce economic disparities (80% of budget)
  2. Regional competitiveness and employment, for regions not falling under objective 1, supports innovation, entrepreneurship, protection of environment)
  3. European territorial cooperation, subsidies for projects between regions in different MS
Operating budgetary balance
balance between contribution and receipts of a MS
Negative integration
abolition of trade barriers imposed by MS
Positive integration

aka harmonization or approximation of laws


adoption of EU laws to reduce the differences between MS laws in a given area

Regulatory Policies (categories)
  1. regulation aimed at market integration
  2. regulation aimed at mitigating negative impacts of economic activity
  3. regulation not directly connected to economic activity
Regulation aimed at market integration
  1. Negative integration, basically stipulating what MS cannot do (levying import taxes or quotas on imports from other MS). Nowadays more subtle often entailing question whether a MS measure is meant to protect domestic producers (prohibited) or to protect customers (allowed). Cassis de Dijon
  2. Positive integration, stipulates which laws MS have to adopt in order to achieve harmonization
Regulation aimed at mitigating impacts of economic activity
Gives significantly more scope to EU policies, eg environmental policy, occupational health and safety
Regulation not directly related to economic activity

Important because promotes a political component, move away from purely economic community towards political union.


Mainly entail CFSP, home and justice affairs (growth in importance since 9/11)

Impact of the EU on policies, political processes and institutions in the MS
Regulatory output, importance of specific regulations

Regulations account for 3/4 of all output, yet directives considered more important

  1. most COM regulations specify more general provisions set out in Council directives and regulations
  2. regulations are regularly used in agricultural (including fisheries) and trade policy, which account for a large amount of technical regulations. Make up 3/4 of all regulations
  3. directives tend to contain broader and more generally applicable rules, applying to a group of products
  4. decisions are also often used to specifiy other provisions, furthermore used to approve mergers, make appointments
  5. recommendations are used where EU has no competence
Impact of EU on MS
  1. institutional compliance (direct) occurs when EU adopts binding legislation
  2. changing domestic opportunity structure (indirect), affects political context by giving new opportunities to political actors (eg opportunity for companies to move freely within EU)
  3. framing domestic beliefs and expectations (indirect), EU can offer new models and best practices
Influences of impact of EU
  1. policy field, EU is involved to a different degree in various areas
  2. depends on domestic political conditions (same regulation can have different actual influence in different MS)
  3. Europeanization is not a zero-sum game (MS maintain leeway in adopting measures, even if EU regulation exists)
Multi-speed Europe

aka "variable geometry", "Europe a la carte", "enhanced cooperation"


already occurred with social charta, Euro, EU battle groups: some MS opt out, while others continue with deeper integration

Enhanced cooperation

Art. 20 TEU and 326-334 TFEU, conditions

  1. include at least 9 MS
  2. participation should be open to all MS
  3. may not undermine internal market, economic, social or territorial cohesion between MS, also not establish trade barriers or distort competition
  4. should fall within competences of the EU
Procedure to esablish enhanced cooperation
  1. outside CFSP COM has exclusive right to submit proposal upon request of a group of MS, proposal needs to be adopted by council and consent of EP
  2. for CFSP MS can submit proposal to council, HR may give opinion, EP only informed
  3. in council all MS can participate but only those who will become part of enhanced cooperation can vote
Enhanced cooperation (pros)
  1. prevents integration to slow down
  2. allows flexibility (disparity between EU27)
  3. may act as laboratory for future legislative acts
Enhanced cooperation (cons)
  1. undermindes solidarity und uniformity of integration
  2. creates 1st and 2nd class MS
  3. some policies are only effective if they are generally applicable in all MS
  4. effectively excludes MS who have not set up enhanced cooperation (creates "facts" that other MS have to accept or refuse)
Political agenda
set of issues that policy-maker give serious attention to
Types of agendas
  1. Political agenda (issues policy-makers pay attention to)
  2. media agenda (issues which receive attention in the media)
  3. public agenda (issues that citizens find important)
Agenda interaction
  1. outside initiative model: issues arise within groups of society which then try to put it on the political agenda (rare in EU because difficulties mobilizin EU public opinion)>>> compare with outside lobbying
  2. mobilization model: policy-makers put issue on political agenda and then try to put it on the public agenda to gain support (rare in EU, because little need to gain support, EU does not implement)
  3. Inside access model: issues arise within government but are not put on politic agenda (most common in EU, relates to inside lobbying)
Why do actors attempt to put issues on the EU agenda
  1. political motives, to circumvent political opposition at home (opponents might be less powerful on EU level), leaves option to blame EU for negative regulations
  2. economic motives, especially MS with high standards might attempt to reduce disadvantages for companies by highering standards for other MS
  3. universalistic motives, believe that all citizens in EU should enjoy some rights or arrangesments (eg NGOs)
  4. institutional motives, especially COM and EP might attempt to gain additional powers and improve their respective position

usually combination of some of those motives

process of agenda setting
  1. informal discussions
  2. multi-annual action plans (if created for policy field)
  3. COM annual work programme
  4. Expert committee
  5. Green Paper (+ consultation)
  6. White Paper (+ consultation)
  7. Proposal
Green Paper

discussion document from COM that outlines general issues and options around an issue without presenting specific proposals


White Paper
discussion document by COM that presents specific proposals for EU action 
Glossary of COM documents
  1. Green Paper (starts consultation)
  2. White Paper (presents specific proposals)
  3. Communication (informs stakeholders about COM position without inviting a response)
  4. Work Programme (sets out priorities of COM for a year)
  5. Action Plan / Programme (overview of activities that COM intends to take in relation to a policy area)
  6. Report (contains factual information on the state of affairs of a given issue)
Why do issues make it on the agenda - issue framing

scheme with which issues and events are defined and given meaning


Framing as activity is to define an issue in a way that it fits a specific frame


The same issue can be interpreted in different ways, highlighting some aspects, while neglecting others. How an issue is framed decides what policy decisions are considered adequate and who will participate in discussion.


eg alcohol consume can be framed as health or business issue 

Why do issues make it on the agenda - instiutional structures

policy venue is an institution that has the authority to make decisions about an issue


which isses are discussed and how they are discussed, depends largely on the characteristics of a venue. Every political system will, as a result of its institutional set-up, be more receptive to some issues than to others.


Agenda-setter will try to frame issues so that they appeal to specific venues

Why do issues make it on the agenda - timing

for most issues there are short periods of time where an issues rises on the agenda "policy window" or "opportunity window"


  1. wide recognition of the importance of a problem
  2. a viable and acceptable solution is available
  3. political circumstances for adoption are favourable

if all three are aligned, issue will move on top of the agenda. 


Focusing event (eg 9/11) may aid in drawing strong attention to an issue

Decision making, levels
  1. History-making decisions (treaties or other long-term decisions)
  2. policy-setting decisions (choice between policy alternatives "what to do" or "doing anything?")
  3. policy-shaping decisions (details of policies, "how to do")

1 is high politics, 3 low politics, 2 depends

History-making decisions

determine fundamental choices about the course of the Union (treaty changes, financial perspective, power relations between MS)


  1. basic decision will be made at highest political level
  2. basic consideration will concern national interest as perceived by top politicians
  3. basic mode of reaching decisions will be bargaining
zone of acceptability

set of bargaining outcomes that a participant in a negotiation will accept


not most preferred outcome, yet actor can live with less than the desired outcome, areas where all zones of acceptability overlap is "zone of agreement" or "bargaining set"

bargaining tactics
  1. coalition formation (basic strategy in EU decision making - gives ability to present a demand more forcefully)
  2. persuasion and the management of meaning (give arguments or re-frame proposals so they are more acceptable to opponent, plays on self-interest and also includes not letting him loose face at home)
  3. challenging other MS (bluffing to receive better outcome, might end in stalemate)
  4. issue-linkage and side-payments (linking non connected issues to each other, thereby offering incentive to agree, side payment refers to additional payments to "buy" agreement, but can also be symbolic in nature)
  5. splitting the difference (sharing negative costs)

consists of:

  1. policy-setting (general choice between alternatives)
  2. policy-shaping (technical aspects)

If a policy-setting decision tends to be high-politics, decision making will shift to council or even European council

Veto players
  1. institutional veto players
  2. partisan veto player (actors within institutions)
Consequences of many veto players
  1. threshold for adoptions is high, because many can veto an adoption
  2. due to supermajorities in council, actors tend to think in blocking minorities and how to overcome them
  3. all proposals are judged on the basis whether they have a reasonable chance to be accepted
  4. culture of consensus and compromise (severe restraints to use blocking votes)
How to evaluate policy networks
  1. types of actors in network
  2. stability of the network
  3. degree of conflict implies (some engage primarily against certain practices)
Types of networks in EU policy-making
  1. policy communities - network of policy experts in a given issue area, tend to have stable membership and be rather closed
  2. iron triangles - similar to 1, often between politicians, civil servants and IGs and usually to defend a status quo
  3. issue networks - like 1, but less fixed members tend to come and go more frequently
  4. advocacy coalitions - consists of actors sharing a basic idea about what policy to pursue in a specific area, most issue areas have more than on advocacy coalition, struggling for dominance
  5. transnational advocacy networks - networks of acitvists that join forces to plead for a shared value or policy, usually centered around NGOs
  6. Epistemic communities, network of experts sharing a professional understanding of a given issue, usually centered on academics or researchers
charateristics of decision making in EU
  1. decision making is a result of a wide range of actors  that operate in a less formal fashion
  2. these networks are not limited to EU insititutions, but also include NGOs, IG

view that policies should be exclusively based on knowledge and that policy decisions should be made by scientific experts rather than politicians


>contrary to interest driven 

>heavily linked to functionalism and neo-functionalism

>largely confined to low politics

>compare better regulation intiative by COM

reasons for technocracy in EU
  1. can be confined to policy-making rather than history-making decisions
  2. EU policy-making is less politicized than domestic policy-making 
  3. many decisions are de-facto taken in non-puplic spheres (COREPER, DGs) >compare comitology
Decision-making in EU influenced by:
  1. large number of institutions involved in most processes
  2. relatively high thresholds for decision making (especially council)
  3. combination of intergovernmental and supranational elements
  4. wide diversity of interests among MS
joint decision trap
arises if the participation of non-central governments in the making of central government decisions leads to policies that are ineffective, inefficient and/or outdated but these policies cannot be changed because at least on non-central government benefits from them 
Arguments against joint-decision trap
  1. since concept has been developed there have been institutional changes (most important QMV)
  2. more accurate for spending issues where MS can calculate costs/benefits easier than for regulatory issues
  3. locus of decision making: not all decisions are made at council, making decisions is different for low politics and in that are less prone to the joint-decision trap
  4. outside pressure can resolve deadlock (WTO rulings, financial crisis)

valuable theory, but more applicable to certain decisions, especially high-politics

stages of policy making
  1. agenda-setting
  2. decision-making
  3. implementation
process of applying policies and putting them into practice
system of committees through which civil servants from MS discuss and supervise implemementation decisions of COM
Stages of implementing policies
  1. legal implementation (making EU law ready to put into action)
    1. making EU legislation operational via implementation decisions (see comitology)
    2. transposition of EU legislation into national legislation
  2. practical implementation, application and enforcement, generally by MS
  3. monitoring implementation, verifying whether legislation is correctly applied
Legal implementation

regulations and treaty provisions are directly applicable, directives have to be transpositioned (time between 3 months and 3 years, roughly 50% is delayed), depends on:

  1. length and complication of directive
  2. whether directive leaves MS several options
  3. whether MS has weak administrative capacity
  4. how much MS disagreed with scope of directive
  5. how much existing legislations differs from proposed legislation in directive 
factors for implementation
  1. pull: domestic actors like NGOs, parties
  2. push: COM by demanding compliance
Comitology (detailed)
most legislation leaves room for implementation decision in EU this up to COM with comitology committees (representing MS)
Comitology procedures
  1. advisory procedure: committee gives opinion on draft with simple majority, opinion is only advisory in nature
  2. management procedure: committee can issue positive, negative or non-opinion using QMV. If not positive draft is referred to Council which has only rejection as influence. If Council does not reject, draft is adopted
  3. regulatory procedure: committee can issue positive, negative or non opinion using QMV. If not positive referral to Council. If Council approves, draft is adopted, otherwise send to COM for revision. Council can also amend unanimously
  4. Regulatory procedure with scrutiny: applicable to implementation procedures that are quasi-legislative. COM sends draft to EP and Council which can veto by QMV (Council) or absolute majority (EP)
Directly implemented policies by EU
  1. competition policy (mergers, state aid)
  2. expenditure policy (cohesion funds, CAP)
  3. monetary policy (ECB)
Monitoring implementation - infringement procedure

by COM (Art. 258 TFEU), reasons:

  1. non-communication (easy because MS report transposition digitally)
  2. incomplete or incorrect transposition (monitored by DG)
  3. incorrect or non-application of legislation (difficult because EU has very few monitoring powers, relies on complaints by individuals and organizations > annual report of application of community law)


Infringement procedure (steps)
  1. letter of formal notice (results of investigation with opportunity to respond by MS)
  2. reasoned opinion (giving details how problem should be redressed and timeframe)
  3. Indictment before CJ if MS does not comply
    1. CJ establishes infringement
    2. MS should comply, if it does not COM can indict MS with "post-litigation-infringement procedure"
    3. CJ then fines MS for every day of non-compliance
Monitoring via national courts

Due to supremacy and direct effect, national courts can directly apply EU law

>more accesible for citizens

>faster than infringement procedure


If requested by national court, CJ can issue preliminary ruling (Art. 267 TFEU)

Agencies - types
  1. social dialogue (exchange best practices)
  2. observation centres (gather information on specific subject)
  3. suppliers (providing services)
  4. regulatory (closely connected to implementation)

alltogether 22 agencies

Regulatory agencies, differences to MS
  1. are not active in "on-the-ground" inspections
  2. generally do not have autonomous decision power, have to rely for action on COM, together with respective comitology committee (exception, OHIM, CPVO, EASA)
Internal sources of institutional and policy developments

EU institutions have drawn up new institutions and policies 

  • 1960 CJ establishes direct effect and supremacy of EU law
  • COM established system of merger control, based on few provisions in treaties
  • EP has effectively removed individual commissioners although this is technically not possible

All those changes have been accepted by MS governments! 

External sources of institutional and policy developments
  • financial crisis
  • 9/11 gave impetus to terrorist and crime fighting
  • fall of communism led to new role of EU

while major decisions are taken by European council, implementation often by other institutions


external factor can be used to reinforce proposals previously rejected

Lessons for the future
  1. creative tension between formal and informal behaviour, formally set rules are interpreted / manipulated by actors
  2. dynamics of crises, can give impetus to new policies
  3. importance of daily politics, while not in focus might explain much about decision structures

One actor needs to explain and justify its behaviour to another actor which can impose sanctions if he considers the behaviour to be inadequate


Theoretical view of democracy
  1. institutional established procedures that regulate
  2. competition for control over political authority
  3. on the basis of deliberation
  4. where nearly all adult citizens are permitted to participate in
  5. an electoral mechanism where their expressed preferences over alternative candidates determine the outcome
  6. in such ways that the government is responsive to the majority or as to as many as possible

1-3 somewhat diminished in EU, no real electoral contest, no consolidated real public opinion

Should the EU be democratic
  • input legitimacy: gov't by the people, the extent to which political systems succeed in translating the preferences of people into policies
  • output legtitimacy, gov't for the people, the extent to which political systems can solve collective problems

generally most systems accept detachment of some institutions from democratic control (courts, central banks) if

  1. independence is required
  2. activity does not concern fundamental trade-offs but only attainment of specific objectives
How democratic is the EU
  • EP has limited influence compared to nat'l parliaments
  • council and committees are secretive and not accountable to EP or nat'l parliaments
  • council decisions are usually unanimous, making it difficult, to hold a single minister accountable
  • COM (gov't) is not formed according to EP elections
Assessing the democratic deficit

depends largely on understanding of democracy

  • EP elections are only second order > yet role has improved considerably, functions increasingly like nat'l parliament
  • gap between citizen opinion and elites > through referendums etc, elites increasingly have to respect citizen's opinions
  • 80% of decisions are taken at preparatory bodies, hidden from public view
  • EU-policy makers are less vulnerable to public opinion

yet, nat'l systems are never perfectly democratic either

EU as state
  1. wide range of policies (IO typically limited to one)
  2. important role of supranational institutions
  3. directly elected EP
  4. QMV in many areas
  5. supremacy and direct effect of EU law
EU as IO
  1. no taxes, army or police
  2. central role of council and european council
  3. second order character of EP elections
  4. de facto unanimity in many areas
  5. MS implement most policies

Unique system combining elements of state with IO, legally IO, because created by treaties, but development has gone much further


  • supranational institutions play much larger role than in IOs, role of MS shows signs of IO though
  • EU cannot change treaties, no competence to define its own competence, which states have
  • difficulty to gather support for EU ideas, no european public sphere
  • with QMV states can be bound against their will, which reflects state qualities
  • EU resembles federal state because it can impose laws, yet these have to be implemented by MS
A legal and political arrangement through which all large-scale political communities are organized, combining territory with sovereignty, independence and legitimacy.
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