- Understanding the EU involves making a decision on the type of questions you are interested in and the way in which you want to answer them.
- The most important distinction between different approaches to the EU is between theories of integration and theories explaining EU politics.
- Neo-functionalism, intergovernmentalism and postfunctionalism are the three major approaches in integration studies.
- Intergovernmentalists claim that the EU is best seen and studied as a classic international organization, to which member states have delegated a limited number of tasks.
- Neofunctionalists argue that the initial delegation of tasks to the supranational level has generated an integrative dynamic of its own, leading to spillover of tasks into other policy domains.
- Postfunctionalists claim that a constraining dissensus has emerged amongst the publics in the EU member states, so that EU politics has increasingly become dependent on domestic political constellations.
- Theories of EU politics seek to understand the actual functioning of the EU as a political system, rather than explain how the EU came about in the first place. Multi-level governance and the comparative politics approach are the two major strands of research in this area.
- Multi-level governance scholars consider the EU to be a one-of-a-kind political system in which the old, hierarchical way of doing politics between member states has been replaced by a new, networked form of government where different levels of government (local, regional, national and supranational) have become mutually dependent for realizing their policy objectives.
- Comparative politics scholars try to understand the EU by asking the same type of questions they ask when examining nation-states. It is exactly by comparing the EU to national political systems that it becomes possible to find out how and why the EU operates differently compared to its member states.
© All exercises copyright Herman Lelieveldt and Sebastiaan Princen 2022
Cambridge University Press