Spring 2022

European Union Politics: Integration and Disintegration

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-270

Moodle site: Course


Ruxandra Paul (Section 01)


What is the European Union? How and why did it start? Where is it headed? Will it become stronger and grow into a full-fledged United States of Europe? Will it become weaker and join the ranks of typical international organizations, following the various crises it has confronted on several dimensions: economic, migration, political - in particular, concerning its impact on sovereignty, democracy, identity, and legitimacy? The EU has evolved from its original ambitions as an economic regional integration project towards a geo-political entity, becoming a multi-level governance structure with its own constitution, currency, court, and form of citizenship, with powerful institutions, increasingly porous internal borders and a common external border. The experiment succeeded to such an extent that countries in other parts of the world have been considering ways to emulate the EU model and adapt it to their region. Some have argued that the EU is sui generis, an unprecedented supranational structure that should be studied as such (some have referred to it as an “unidentified political object”). Others have relied on scholarship on international organizations and comparative federalism to include it on a continuum ranging from international organizations to confederations and federal states. Yet others have turned to the distant past to find equivalents, arguing that the EU resembles a “neo-medieval empire” (Zielonka).

This course tackles the big questions concerning the EU’s past, present, and future, and discusses their ramifications for European and world politics. How far and deep can the EU project expand? Is the EU sufficiently democratic? Does it represent member-states' and citizens' interests effectively? How should it be reformed? Will European integration benefit or suffer after Brexit? Can the EU withstand the pressures of global economic competition and the rise of new economic giants like China? Can it find solutions to the migration crisis without compromising its defining features: porous internal borders and freedom of movement for goods, capital, services, and people on its territory? Will it overcome internal divisions between East and West, between new members and the old core of advanced industrialized democracies? This course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and empirical resources needed to examine European integration and enlargement. We will survey the history and development of the European integration project to understand its institutional framework and relationship with member-states in different policy areas. We will assess the major theories of EU integration in light of current events. We will delve into specific EU policy areas (economic and monetary union, security, migration, external relations, etc.) to understand how the EU shapes the lives of its citizens. We will also study the EU’s relationship with the United States, the United Kingdom, and the rounds of enlargement towards Southern and post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, which have all played an essential role in shaping what the EU is today.

Limited to 25 students. Spring Semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to Political Science majors.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022