Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

Systematically revised and rewritten throughout, and updated to cover the impact ofthe Lisbon Treaty, this highly-successful and ground-breaking text remains unique in analyzing the EU as a political system using the methods of comparative political science.

Table of Contents

Government

Frontmatter

1. Introduction: Explaining the EU Political System

Abstract
The European Union (EU) is a remarkable achievement. It is the result of a process of voluntary integration between the nation-states of Europe. The EU began in the 1950s with six states, grew to 15 in the 1990s, enlarged to 27 in the 2000s, and is likely to grow even further. The EU started out as a common market in coal and steel products and has evolved into an economic, social, and political union. European integration has also produced a set of supranational executive, legislative, and judicial institutions with significant authority over many areas of public policy.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

Government

Frontmatter

2. Executive Politics

Abstract
The governments of the member states of the EU have delegated significant powers of political leadership, policy implementation, and regulation to the Commission. As a result, executive responsibilities are shared between the Council and the Commission.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

3. Legislative Politics

Abstract
The EU has a two-chamber legislature in which the Council represents the states and the European Parliament represents the citizens. The Council is more powerful. However, the introduction, revision, and extension of the co-decision procedure to cover most legislative areas have moved the European Parliament towards parity with the Council. In fact, the Lisbon Treaty makes co-decision the ordinary legislative procedure.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

4. Judicial Politics

Abstract
No treaty, constitution, piece of legislation, or executive decision can account for all possible developments. They are ‘incomplete contracts’. Hence the actors that are responsible for enforcing these contracts, the courts, can use their discretion and shape policy outcomes, sometimes beyond the intention of the decision-makers.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

Politics

Frontmatter

5. Public Opinion

Abstract
The European Union (EU) is a remarkable achievement. It is the result of a process of voluntary integration between the nation-states of Europe. The EU began in the 1950s with six states, grew to 15 in the 1990s, enlarged to 27 in the 2000s, and is likely to grow even further. The EU started out as a common market in coal and steel products and has evolved into an economic, social, and political union. European integration has also produced a set of supranational executive, legislative, and judicial institutions with significant authority over many areas of public policy.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

6. Democracy, Parties, and Elections

Abstract
This chapter looks at how the two central processes of ‘democratic politics’ – party competition and elections – operate in the EU. At the domestic level in Europe, parties and elections operate hand in hand in the ‘competitive party government’ model. There is also an emerging party system at the European level. European-wide elections to the European Parliament are held every five years, and competitive and cohesive political parties exist in the European Parliament.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

7. Interest Representation

Abstract
This chapter looks at the representation of societal interests at the European level. Interest groups play a central role in all democratic political systems, where private organizations represent ‘civil society’ in the policy-making process. Whereas political society at the European level, in terms of supranational democratic politics, may be comparatively weak compared to the national level (as we saw in the previous chapter), civil society in Brussels is more developed, dense, and complex than in most national capitals in Europe.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

Policies

Frontmatter

8. Regulation of the Single Market

Abstract
Studies of public policy differentiate between three types of economic policy: regulatory, expenditure, and macroeconomic policies (Lowi, 1964; Musgrave, 1959). The EU supplies all three of these policy types. This chapter consider EU regulation. Chapter 9 looks at EU expenditure. Chapter 10 investigates macroeconomic issues related to EMU. With the increased delegation of economic, social, and environmental regulatory policy competences to the European level, the EU has been described as ‘a regulatory state’ (Egan, 2001; Majone, 1996). This chapter contrasts deregulatory with re-regulatory aspects of this regulatory state, and explains regulatory policy-making in the EU.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

9. Expenditure Policies

Abstract
The capacity of the EU to distribute resources through taxation and public spending is limited. The EU budget constitutes about 1 per cent of total EU GDP. However, for member states, farmers, regions, private organizations, or individual citizens who receive money from the EU budget, the absolute sums involved are considerable, and someone somewhere in the EU pays for this. To help understand how EU expenditure policies are made, and who gets what and why, we shall first look at some general theories of public finances and redistribution.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

10. Economic and Monetary Union

Abstract
Economic and monetary union (EMU) was launched on 1 January 1999 and euro notes and coins were introduced in 12 EU states on 1 January 2002, and by 2011 the eurozone had grown to 17 of the 27 EU states. This chapter seeks to explain why some member states decided to replace their national currencies with the euro, while other did not; and explain how the EMU works. We start by looking at some general theories of monetary union.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

11. Interior Policies

Abstract
One of the central aims of the modern state is to grant and protect citizens’ rights and freedoms, via a range of ‘interior policies’, such as immigration policy, policing, internal security, and criminal justice policies. The EU has gradually established ‘an area of freedom, security and justice’, which touches on all these policy issues. This chapter seeks to analyse why the EU has developed these policies and how far these policies have changed existing rights and freedoms of citizens in Europe. To help in this task we shall first look at general theories of the relationship between citizens and the state.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

12. Foreign Policies

Abstract
The EU pursues two main types of policies towards the rest of the world: economic policies, through trade agreements and development and humanitarian aid; and foreign and security policy, through the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Nevertheless, the most important foreign policy of the EU since the end of the Cold War has been the process of integrating the Central and Eastern European countries into the EU, and managing its relations with its bordering non-member states. This chapter seeks to explain the development of EU foreign policy, in particular why it seems to be better able to play an important role in some policy areas than in others. To guide our explanation, we first review the main theoretical frameworks in international relations and international political economy.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland

13. Conclusion: Rethinking the European Union

Abstract
The EU pursues two main types of policies towards the rest of the world: economic policies, through trade agreements and development and humanitarian aid; and foreign and security policy, through the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Nevertheless, the most important foreign policy of the EU since the end of the Cold War has been the process of integrating the Central and Eastern European countries into the EU, and managing its relations with its bordering non-member states. This chapter seeks to explain the development of EU foreign policy, in particular why it seems to be better able to play an important role in some policy areas than in others. To guide our explanation, we first review the main theoretical frameworks in international relations and international political economy.
Simon Hix, Bjorn Hoyland
Additional information