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The Politics of European Union Policy-Making (PO358)

Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics for this module; precise seminar content may change from year to year.

  • EU Policy Processes
  • ‘The’ Supranational Institution: The European Commission
  • The European Parliament
  • National Governments and the Intergovernmental Institutions
  • Sub-National Authorities
  • Other Actors and Influences: Interest Groups and Public Opinion
  • Law, Implementation and Administration of EU Policy
  • Theorising EU Policy Processes
  • Analysing EU Governance: New Approaches
  • Economic Governance: From SEM to EMU
  • Common Agricultural Policy
  • Regional (Cohesion) Policy
  • A Green EU? Environmental Policy
  • Social Policy
  • Justice and Home Affairs
  • Foreign and Security Policy
  • Entry into and Exit from the EU
Timing and CATS

This module is a Full Year module and is worth 30 CATS


This module explores EU policy-making processes. In the first part, it develops a broad-ranging understanding of the nature of EU policy processes through discussions of the main perspectives and by touching upon a series of general issue areas. It seeks to understand the internal dynamics of EU policy-making by considering the respective importance of the EU’s institutions, national governments and various non-state actors. It also tries to understand the nature of the policy-making regime in the EU. The emphasis is on contending theories and explanations of EU policy processes. In the second part, it turns to the ‘application’ of these theories and approaches to a series of specific sectoral case studies.

Do 'barmy Brussels bureaucrats' dictate all our laws? Does the role of the European Parliament legitimise EU policy-making? Is the EU moving towards becoming a 'Europe of the Regions'? Is public opinion important in EU policy-making? What has the economic crisis exposed regarding the EMU governance framework? To what extent can we talk of a 'European' social policy? What should be the relationship between the EU's security and defence policy and NATO?

Programme content

The module develops an understanding of EU policy processes. In doing so, it explores the main theoretical approaches associated with EU decision-making dynamics and policy processes, and examines the relative importance of the actors involved in EU policy-making. It also offers an in-depth understanding of a series of EU policy areas and analyses the relevance of theoretical approaches to the realities of EU policy-making.

Students should be able to describe the workings of EU policy processes, critically discuss the key characteristics of EU policy processes, and assess the relative merit of the main actors involved in the dynamics of EU policy-making. Students should also, by the end of the course, have developed their presentation skills, research skills, and their ability to work independently and as part of a group.

Case studies will highlight key issues facing the contemporary EU, including the Lisbon Treaty, Economic and Monetary Union, enlargement, immigration and asylum policies, and the development of a foreign, security and defence policy. Analysis of these issues will enable you to appreciate the complex nature of EU governance and the challenges facing the EU within the existing global environment.

Module Director:
George Christou (In 2016-17, the lectures will be delivered by Kseniya Oksamytna)

Sample reading list (PDF Document)