How the European Union really works

  • The European Union is facing a profound crisis and is confronted with multiple challenges. Over the last two decades, it has experienced a series of dramatic changes to its powers, its institutional design, its constitutional framework and its borders. At the same time, the uneasy relationship between European citizens and elites has complicated both the reform and the function of the Union. While the Lisbon treaty provided some answers to crucial questions, it did not clarify the nature of the EU, which remains at the crossroads of federal and intergovernmental logic. The current economic and financial crisis puts the EU’s legitimacy further under pressure and creates the impression of a turning point.

    This book provides a concise analysis of the EU and its dynamics by paying particular attention to its day to day operation. It aims to help students and scholars understand its evolution, its institutions, its decision-making and the interactions between the EU and various actors. Avoiding abstract theorizing, the authors propose an easy to read analysis of how the Union works while recognizing the complexity of the situation. Throughout the book, the key issues of European integration are addressed: democratic deficit, politicization, the role of member states, institutional crisis and citizen involvement.

  • Contents: Introduction; A political system forged by history; The main theoretical approaches in EU studies; Executive power; The legislative power; The organs of control; The other organs involved in EU policy making; Decision-making in the European Union; EU decision-making models; The EU decision-making process from a public policy network perspective; Conclusion; Annexes; Bibliography; Index.

  • About the Author: Olivier Costa is CNRS Research Professor at the Centre Emile Durkheim, Institute of Political Studies of Bordeaux (France). He is also Director of Political and Administrative Studies at the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium) and Visiting Professor at the Institute for European Studies of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Brussels, Belgium). He has been teaching and conducting research on EU institutions and policies for more than 20 years. His research interests include the European Parliament, EU institutional system and decision making, Europeanization and Parliamentary representation at EU and national level. He is member of the editorial committee of the Journal of European Integration and of the Journal of Legislative Studies.

    Nathalie Brack is a Post-doctoral Fellow at Oxford University and at the Université libre de Bruxelles (CEVIPOL). She holds a PhD in political science, which deals with the roles of Eurosceptic Members of the European Parliament. Her research interests include Euroscepticism, the European Parliament, Political representation, Parliamentary and Legislative studies as well as Political opposition.

Technical info: 
Olivier Costa, Nathalie Brack, Routledge, 2014, 273 p.