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About this book

The definitive textbook on EU politics and governance, now in its 8th edition, has been thoroughly updated throughout to take into account the ongoing developments and evolution of the EU. Major changes, recent developments, and the major crises that have befallen the union in recent times are analysed within this context. This includes eurozone crisis, the migration crisis, and the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Acclaimed author and academic Neill Nugent has written a comprehensive text, enabling students with no prior knowledge of the EU to master the subject. By detailing the historical evolution of European integration, Nugent gives the necessary context to his exhaustive analysis of policies, process, institutions and treaties. This has grown to include two new chapters on Member State Relations and Interest Representation. The final section considers concepts and theories with EU studies, providing a succinct, accessible introduction to theory, which can be read as standalone chapters.

Completely redesigned and updated throughout with a new structure to increase readability and packed with numerous pedagogical features -document excerpts, case studies, maps figures - and supported by a fully stocked companion website with resources for both students and lecturers, this text is an essential for students new to EU studies.

Table of Contents

1. Setting the Scene: The ‘Crises’, the Challenges, and Their Implications for the Nature and Operation of the EU

Abstract
The European Union (EU) has been subject to unprecedented crises and challenges in recent years. The nature of these crises and challenges, the approaches adopted in attempting to tackle them, and their implications for the operation of the EU are explored at various places throughout this book. However, an overview of them is given in this chapter so as to enable, from the very outset of the book, their features, their inter-relationships, and their significance to be understood. The recent crises and challenges are not the first to have been faced by the European Community (EC)/EU in its history of now 60 plus years – dating the start of this history to the 1952 treaty that created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).
Neill Nugent

26. Present Realities and Future Prospects

Abstract
The EU should not be viewed in too narrow a context. Whilst many of the factors that have influenced its development apply to it alone, many do not. This is most clearly seen in the ways in which global modernisation and interdependence, which have been crucial to the creation of many of the central features of the EU, have produced similar effects elsewhere in the international system – albeit usually to more modest degrees. Indeed, the EU can be viewed in many ways as a particularly intensified form of internationalisation. Of the many ways in which modernisation and interdependence have transformed the international system, one of the most important has been in the challenges it has posed to the ability of politicians to control events and forces. Of course, states have never been completely isolated islands in the sense of their leaders being able to act wholly independently and take whatever decisions they liked in the pursuit of national interests and preferences. In Europe this has been so especially for small states, but it has applied also to large states such as France and Germany in as much as many of their policies – most obviously their trade policies – have necessitated establishing relations and concluding agreements with other countries.
Neill Nugent

The Historical Evolution

Frontmatter

2. The Post-War Transformation of Western Europe

Abstract
The European integration process was initiated and developed in Western Europe. It was extended to Central and Eastern Europe only after the key features of the European Union (EU) as they are today had been created and become established. Until the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989–90, countries such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, and Poland were either part of the Soviet Union or were located within the Soviet bloc. As such, they were quite outside the processes that, until the early 1990s, were focused exclusively on drawing Western European states increasingly close to one another in an array of cooperative and integrative relationships. An understanding and analysis of the European integration process must therefore begin by focusing on Western Europe. Throughout its history Europe has been characterised much more by divisions, tensions, and conflicts than it has by any common purpose or harmony of spirit. This applies to Western Europe as much as it does to the European continent as a whole.
Neill Nugent

3. The Creation of the European Community

Abstract
Much of the early impetus behind the first of the European Communities, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), was provided by two Frenchmen. Jean Monnet, who had pioneered France’s successful post-war experiment with indicative economic planning, provided much of the technical and administrative initiative and behind-the-scenes drive. Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister from 1948 to early 1953, acted as the political advocate. Both were ardent supporters of European unity, both believed that the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) and the Council of Europe – where anyone could be exempted from a decision – could not provide the necessary impetus, and both came to the conclusion that: A start would have to be made by doing something both more practical and more ambitious. National sovereignty would have to be tackled more boldly and on a narrower front. (Monnet, 1978: 274)
Neill Nugent

4. The Deepening of the Integration Process

Abstract
Since the European Communities were created in the 1950s, European integration has advanced in many ways. One, much-used and very useful,analytical device for capturing the nature of the ways in which integration has advanced is to distinguish between deepening and widening. Deepening refers to the development of vertical integration: that is, to the ever more intense nature of the integration that exists between member states. Widening refers to the development of horizontal integration: that is, to the growing geographical spread of the European Community (EC)/European Union (EU) via the accessions of new member states. This chapter outlines the most important aspects of the deepening of the integration process. The examination does not take the form of a detailed account of the unfolding of every aspect of EC/EU deepening. For those who want such an account, a useful starting point is Dinan, 2014.
Neill Nugent

5. The Widening of the Integration Process

Abstract
This chapter examines the widening of the integration process. That is to say, it examines Economic Community (EC)/European Union (EU) enlargement. The chapter begins by emphasising how the enlargement process has mainly proceeded via a series of enlargement rounds. This is followed by an examination of key features of the enlargement rounds and of the member states that have been, and may in the future be, part of them. Attention is then turned to the EC/EU‘s positions on enlargement: why has it been prepared to enlarge given that in most respects it has been a successful organisation and that many applicants might have been thought to have threatened the success? The different ways in which enlargements have impacted on the nature and operation of the EC/EU are then considered. From an original EC membership of six (see Map 5.1), the EU has grown in size to 28 member states at the time of writing (autumn 2016).
Neill Nugent

The Evolving Treaty Framework

Frontmatter

6. From Rome to Nice

Abstract
The founding treaties of the 1950s that created the European Communities have been supplemented and amended in various ways by subsequent treaties. This chapter examines these treaties up to the 2001 Treaty of Nice. In addition to accession treaties providing for the enlargements of the Community, a number of other treaties were also concluded in the period between the signing of the Treaties of Rome in 1957 and the Single European Act in 1986. Four of these treaties were of particular significance: Treaty Establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities. Signed in 1965, coming into force in 1967, and generally known as the Merger Treaty, this treaty established a single Council of Ministers for all three Communities (though different individuals would attend different meetings) and merged the High Authority of the ECSC, the Commission of Euratom, and the EEC Commission into one Commission. The powers exercised by these merged bodies were still to be based on the founding treaties: in other words, the treaties and the Communities themselves were not merged.
Neill Nugent

7. The Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties

Abstract
As was noted at the end of Chapter 6, it was recognised at the time agreement was reached on the Nice Treaty that it contained little more than the minimum that was necessary to enable the EU to enlarge. The Treaty made provision for fitting the new member states into the Commission, the Council, the EP and the other EU institutions, but it did little to tackle wider matters relating to how the much larger and more heterogeneous EU could function with efficiency and effectiveness. Thus recognising the limitations of the Treaty they had contracted, the national leaders agreed at Nice to open up a debate on the future of the EU and to convene another IGC in 2004. To facilitate the debate and help prepare the IGC, the December 2001 European Council meeting issued the Laeken Declaration on the Future of the European Union which provided for the establishment of a Convention on the Future of Europe (European Council, 2001).
Neill Nugent

8. Treaties and the Integration Process

Abstract
After the SEA it became customary for rounds of treaty reform to occur on a regular basis. One reason for this was that the logic and momentum of the integration process required periodic revision of the treaties so as both to ‘catch up’ with evolving realities and to enable desired developments to occur. Another reason was that because all EU Treaties are a consequence of intergovernmental bargaining, some governments were inevitably disappointed with the outcomes of treaties and so started pressing for another round of treaty reform almost before a negotiated treaty had been ratified and applied. And a third reason was that the Maastricht, Amsterdam, and Nice Treaties explicitly provided for further rounds of treaty reform: in the Maastricht case in response to pressures from dissatisfied governments at the Treaty’s outcome, and in the Amsterdam and Nice cases in consequence of a general recognition that the treaties were leaving unfinished business.
Neill Nugent

The Institutions and Political Actors of the European Union

Frontmatter

9. The Commission

Abstract
Frequently portrayed as the civil service of the EU, in reality the Commission is rather more and rather less than that. Rather more in the sense that the treaties and political practice have assigned to it muchgreater policy-initiating and decision-making powers than those enjoyed, in theory at least, by national civil services. Rather less in that its role in policy implementation is greatly limited by the fact that the member states are charged with most of the EU’s day-to-day administrative responsibilities. The Commission is centrally involved in EU decision-making at all levels and on all fronts. With an array of power resources and policy instruments at its disposal, and strengthened by the frequent unwillingness or inability of other EU institutions to provide clear leadership, the Commission is at the very heart of the EU system.
Neill Nugent

10. The Council of the European Union

Abstract
The Council of the European Union – which is more commonly referred to simply as the Council (the name used in the Lisbon Treaty) and at times the Council of Ministers – is the principal meeting place of the national governments. When the Community was founded in the 1950s many expected that in time, as joint policies were seen to work and as the member states came to trust one another more, the role of the Council would gradually decline, especially in relation to the Commission. This has not happened. On the contrary, by guarding and building on the responsibilities that are accorded to it in the treaties, and by adapting its internal mechanisms to enable it to cope more easily with the increasing volume of business that has come its way, the Council not only has defended, but in some respects has extended its power and influence.
Neill Nugent

11. The European Council

Abstract
This chapter examines the institution that brings together the national leaders of the EU member states. From being only very marginally involved in activities in the early days of the European Communities, the leaders, meeting in the European Council, have increasingly established ‘their’ institution as the de facto ‘head of governance’ of the EU. Although no provision was made in the founding treaties for summit meetings of Heads of Government, a few such gatherings did occur in the 1960s and early 1970s. At the Paris summit in 1974 it was decided to institutionalise these meetings with the establishment of what soon became known as the European Council. The main reason for the creation of the European Council was a growing feeling that the Community was failing to respond adequately or quickly enough to new and increasingly difficult challenges.
Neill Nugent

12. The European Parliament

Abstract
This chapter examines the European Parliament. It does so by analysing the EP’s powers and influence, EP elections, political parties and the EP, the composition of the EP, the organisation and operation of the EP, and concludes with some thought on whether the EP is a ‘proper’ parliament. For long after it was first constituted as the Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Parliament – the title it adopted for itself in 1962 – was generally regarded as a somewhat ineffectual institution. This reputation is no longer justified, for whilst it is true that the EP’s formal powers are not quite as strong as those of national legislatures, developments over the years have come to give it considerable powers and influence in the EU system. As with national parliaments this influence is exercised in three main ways: through the legislative process, through the budgetary process, and through control and supervision of the executive.
Neill Nugent

13. European Union Law and the EU’s Courts

Abstract
This chapter considers the interrelated topics of EU law and the EU’s courts. Because it covers many areas of EU activity and because also it takes precedence over national law, EU law is a key feature of the EU system. As it impacts extensively and directly on national sovereignties, it is often also a controversial and contested feature. The need for EU law and the sources, the content, and the status of that law are all examined in the chapter. Crucial to the successful operation of the EU’s legal system are the EU’s courts, which operate within the framework of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The courts are charged to ensure that EU law is upheld in a uniform manner throughout the EU system. Accordingly, the chapter also analyses the structure of the CJEU system, the type of cases brought before the courts, and their impact and influence.
Neill Nugent

14. Other Institutions

Abstract
In addition to the EU’s main institutions, which have been examined in the last five chapters, there exist a large number of other institutions. These institutions have a variety of roles and purposes. The more important of these additional institutions are examined in this chapter. In the negotiations that led to the Rome Treaties it was decided to establish a consultative body composed of representatives of socio-economic interests. There were four principal reasons for this decision. First, five of the six founding states – West Germany was the exception – had such bodies in their own national systems. The main role of these bodies was to provide a forum in which sectional interests could express their views and in so doing could supplement the popular will as expressed via parliaments.
Neill Nugent

15. Interests

Abstract
This chapter examines interests in the EU – that is, it examines EU policy actors and would-be policy actors beyond those associated with the EU institutions and with the official positions of member states. The chapter begins by examining the many different types of interest that seek to engage with the EU. It then analyses their varying access to decisionmakers and the influence they exercise. The chapter concludes with some observations on interests and EU policy processes. Brussels has come to compete with Washington as the world’s ‘lobbying capital’. Lobbying is a billion euro industry, with a very large number of organisations and individuals seeking to monitor EU activities and influencewhat the EU does. However, the exact number of lobbying organisations and lobbyists in Brussels is impossible to gauge with precision. This is partly because many of those who lobby do not do so on a full-time basis but also act in other capacities: for example, as lawyers, accountants, and as businessmen. It is partly also because many of those who are really full-time lobbyists prefer to present themselves as ‘consultants’, ‘advisers’, ‘policy specialists’, and the like.
Neill Nugent

16. The Member States

Abstract
The EU exists first and foremost to further the interests of its member states. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that, as previous chapters of this book have shown, the member states are core EU actors. This chapter examines the varying impacts of EU membership on the member states, the ways in which the EU is structured to accommodate and integrate the differing interests of its member states, and how the member states behave and act in the EU. At the end of the chapter, consideration is given to the relative influence exercised by states in the EU. The EU is a voluntary organisation. No member state will retain its membership if its national leaders do not judge that the benefits of membership outweigh the costs. But, states pay a price for EU membership. The nature of the price varies between states but usually has two main aspects. The first and most obvious is that there is a substantial loss of national decisionmaking powers.
Neill Nugent

Policies and Policy Processes of the European Union

Frontmatter

17. Understanding EU Policies

Abstract
This chapter introduces the EU’s policies. It does so by describing the diverse origins of the policies and by taking an overview of key features of the policy portfolio. The origins of EU policies lie in a number of places. So, for example, at a general level, the changed mood in Western Europe after the Second World War enabled states between which policy cooperation, let alone coordination, would previously have been unthinkable to begin to work closely with one another in policy areas where there appeared to be shared advantages from so doing. Staying at a general level, an increasingly important factor since the Second World War has been the increasingly interdependent nature of the international, and more particularly of the European, systems, which has resulted in national borders becoming ever more ill-matched with political and economic realities and policy needs. The combined impact of the changed mood and the pressures of interdependence have been significant in helping to persuade European states to transfer policy responsibilities to a ‘higher’ level in an attempt to shape, manage, control, take advantage of, and keep pace with the modern world.
Neill Nugent

18. Policy Processes

Abstract
This chapter examines the nature of the EU’s policy processes. It shows that the processes are numerous and highly complex in nature, that a number of factors combine to determine what processes apply in what policy circumstances, that there are four broad frameworks of policy processes, that a number of characteristics regularly feature in most policy processes, and that the processes are by no means as inefficient as they are often portrayed as being. Broad themes that run through the chapter are the multifaceted nature of the policy processes and the host of differing sorts of policy actors that interact with one another on the basis of an array of different policy-making rules and procedures. These themes are further examined in the following chapters of this part of the book. There cannot be said to be a ‘standard’ or ‘typical’ EU policy-making or decision-making process. A multiplicity of actors interrelate with one another via a myriad of channels.
Neill Nugent

19. Making and Applying EU Legislation

Abstract
This chapter examines the making and applying of EU legislation. Regarding the making of legislation, attention is focused on legislation that is subject to a full legislative procedure, which means legislation that generally is thought to be especially significant and/or is concerned with establishing principles. The reason for this focus is that legislation that does not require a full legislative procedure – which means legislation that is usually narrow in focus and of an administrative and/or implementing character – was examined in Chapter 9. By way of introducing ‘the overall shape’ of EU legislative and application procedures, Figure 19.1 shows their key organisational features and the positions of the main EU institutions within them. As can be seen, the ‘route’ taken by proposed administrative legislation is to the right of the figure and that taken by proposals involving a full legislative process is to the left.
Neill Nugent

20. Internal Policies

Abstract
The EU’s main internal policy interests and responsibilities can be grouped under four broad headings: establishing the internal market, macroeconomic and financial policies, functional policies, and sectoral policies. This chapter examines each of these. The creation of an open European market based on free and fair competition has been at the heart of the policy goals of the EC/EU since the early days of the integration process. Moreover, the rationale for the creation of such a market has remained virtually unchanged over the years, with the central purpose of an open European market consistently having been seen as being to assist economic growth and hence to promote employment and prosperity. The sentiments expressed in Document 20.1, which are taken from a Commission communication of mid-2009 on the internal market, could just as easily have been expressed 50 years previously by the Community’s founders.
Neill Nugent

21. Agricultural Policy and Policy Processes

Abstract
This chapter examines what is perhaps the most notorious of the EU’s policies: the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It does so by considering the nature of its controversiality, why agriculture has been singled out for ‘special treatment’, the current operation of the CAP, the impact of the CAP on both agriculture and other EU policies, and the CAP’s policy processes. Despite the fact that it accounts for only just over 1 per cent of EU GDP and 5 per cent of EU employment, agriculture looms large in the life of the EU. It does so for five main reasons. First, the economic impact of agriculture is greater than indicated by the figures just given, for in addition to farming itself there are many industries that are closely linked to agriculture and are dependent on its success. These industries include agro-chemicals and fertilisers, agricultural equipment, food processing, veterinary medicines, and financial services. Second, the EU has, via the CAP, major policy-making and decision-making responsibilities for agriculture.
Neill Nugent

22. External Policies

Abstract
The EU is an important actor on the world stage. It is so partly because of its size and resources and partly because of its ability to act in a united, or at least coordinated, manner in a range of external policy contexts and settings. There are four main aspects to the EU‘s external relations: trade; foreign, security and defence; development; and the external dimension of internal policies. Each of these will be examined in this chapter. The member states of the EU present a united front to the world in respect of international trade and they act as one in contracting the terms of trade agreements. If they did not do so the unified internal market would not be possible. The main foundations of the united front are the Common Customs Tariff (CCT) – or Common External Tariff (CET) as it is also known – and the Common Commercial Policy (CCP).
Neill Nugent

23. The Budget

Abstract
The EU budget is examined in this chapter. The chapter begins by showing that although the budget is large in absolute terms, it is not so when set in the context of total EU wealth or total public expenditure in the EU. The next two sections examine the EU’s two main budgetary mechanisms: multiannual financial frameworks (MFFs), which are seven-year programmes that translate policy priorities into maximum annual spending amounts over the period of the frameworks; and annual budgets, which are set within the context of the MFF applying and which detail EU resources and expenditure in particular years. Despite the considerable attention it has received over the years and despite the political tensions it has often generated, the EU’s budget is relatively small in size.
Neill Nugent

Conceptualising and Theorising

Frontmatter

24. Conceptualising the European Union

Abstract
Conceptualising, which essentially means thinking about phenomena in abstract terms, is very much part of EU Studies. It is so because academic commentators normally want to get beyond collecting and assembling facts and move to generalisations about the nature and significance of the facts. This is viewed as being important both in its own terms and as an essential prerequisite for explanatory theorising. Numerous attempts have been made to pinpoint the essential features of the EU in conceptual terms or, as it is often put, to capture ‘the nature of the beast’. Problems in doing this are examined in the opening section of the chapter. Attention is then focused on two central features of the conceptual literature. The first of these features is three key concepts – sovereignty, intergovernmentalism, and supranationalism – that are habitually employed when assessing the political character of the EU in conceptual terms.
Neill Nugent

25. Theorising European Integration and EU Politics

Abstract
Theorising, which means positing explanations of phenomena, has constituted the base of much academic writing on European integration and EU politics. Broadly speaking, this writing is of two main types. First, there are attempts to theorise the general nature of the integration process. Such theorising is not as fashionable today as it once was, but it is still seen by most scholars as being worthwhile, and it certainly marks the point of departure for a great deal of other theoretical work. Grand theory, as general integration theory is commonly known, is studied in the first section of the chapter. Second, there are attempts to develop theoretical approaches to particular aspects of the functioning of the EU, especially policy and decisionmaking. Operating at the middle-range level, or as it is sometimes called the meso level, rather than at the general level, this has been a major growth area in scholarly work on the EU in recent years. It is the subject of the second section of the chapter.
Neill Nugent
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