Course Summary

The European Union (EU) is a unique (and uniquely important) international organization; it is also a very atypical (and incomplete) federation of states, a supra-national institution, and one of the largest bureaucracies in the world. 

The EU encompasses through its integration project the most developed countries of Europe, and some of the smallest countries in the world. It brings together two former blocs of the Cold War (Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc). Before the EU, however, Europe was already a reality. European states grew and prospered, evolving from tribal kingdoms, to empires and then into modern states after Westphalia. European states remain marked by differences. Nowhere else one would find such diversity (in terms of Geography, Culture, Demography, Economy, and more) as can be observed today between Greece and Sweden, Italy and Finland, Spain and Estonia. Yet all European states share a similar understanding of civil liberties, democratic values, individual rights, human rights, law. 

Because of the ever-growing significance, complexity, and global influence of the EU, its study has never been so topical and exciting.

With the end of the Cold War, the division of Europe in East and West began to reverse and members of the EU have moved ahead with their integration and supranational experiment whereby European law supersedes national law and a single currency is created. Despite the erosion of traditional boundaries, it remains vital to understand the national politics of European states as they continue to be effective actors in the process of European transformation. 

The purpose of this course is to offer students an informed and accessible overview of both European politics (both at general level and in some selected EU states) and of the brief history, principles, institutions, major projects, and politics and policies of the EU. Several other major current issues in the European Union will be discussed in this course, including:

  • the recent migration crisis (particularly since 2014)
  • the Brexit phenomenon and other independence movements
  • the development of a common foreign policy, with particular attention to how the EU interacts with Asia
  • the new challenges facing the EU in the next years, particularly the COVID-19 emergency and its management by EU institutions and European states