WESSELS W. - The European Council : A Real World Analysis of the Leaders’ Institution through Practical Exercises and Insider Insights (30h)

Professor Wolfgang WESSELS

Who holds power in the EU? After decades of scholarly analyses of the EU decision-making processes, the answer to that question is still not clear, what is clear though, is that each institution displays a specific range of strategies to maximize its own power. This course takes a specific interest in the perspective of the Member States of the European Union. What power games, strategies, do national leaders, government and civil servants play to reach a leadership position or maintain it, both individually and collectively.

Collectively, the course replaces the political arena the intergovernmental bodies of the European Union within the larger EU architecture and explain the Member States’ strategies to maintain their leadership over the European integration process. How do Member states exercise leadership over the EU architecture? What are the relations between the European Council and the other EU institutions and national administrations? -especially to the EP and the Commission. We will argue that simple answers- e.g. following a simplified intergovernmental reading – are to be discussed.

Individually, this course examines the relative positions of different Member States within the European Council and try to identify the ways in which national officials make use of this system to reach outcomes in line with their preferences. Claims such as the existence of a ‘Directoire’ of large Member States, especially of a Franco-German leadership or even of a German hegemony, are scrutinized, along the role of individual national leaders, such as the German Chancellor.

Conversely, we examine the transformations that the involvement into the European integration process has made on European statehood, and will ask whether national administration, national policy-making has been ‘Europeanized’, resulting in the emergence of a European administrative space.

ECTS card

Academic year
2021 - 2022
Second semester
Course type
Optional courses
ECTS Points