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  • Institutions · Actors · Global Impact





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    INDIANA University Press Bloomington & Indianapolis 1-800-842-6796



    International Affairs · Business

    “Readers in America and Europe alike will benefit from the very considerable expertise revealed in these pages.”

    —Hugh Dykes, House of Lords Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on the European Union

    “Covers all the essential topics related to the EU.” —Choice review of the 1st edition

    “A wonderful exposition of the European Union.” —Ambassador Donato Chiarini, European Commission

    “An informative, well-paced, and clearly articulated narrative of the European Union’s development.”

    —Jennifer Yoder, Colby College

    this brief and accessible introduction to the European Union is ideal for scholars and professionals in government, business, the media, or the nonprofit sector who need a concise overview of the structure, history, and policies of the EU. This new edition also provides useful background reading for advanced high school and college courses and for those planning overseas study, work, or research. Andreas Staab offers basic terms and interpretive frameworks for under- standing the evolution of the EU; the overall structure, purpose, and mandate of its main constituent divisions; and key policy areas, such as market unification. The entire text has been thoroughly updated to incorporate information about key actors, terms, and new developments, and a new chapter on environmental policy has been added.

    andreas Staab is the founder and director of EPIC—the European Policy Information Centre, a UK-based consultancy on the European Union. He teach- es in the London programs of three North American universities and is author of National Identity in Eastern Germany.

    EU Explained 2nd ED MECH.indd 1 4/21/11 11:13 AM

  • The

    EuropEan union


  • The

    EuropEan union


    indiana university press Bloomington · indianapolis

    andreas Staab

    SEcon d Ed it ion

    institutions · actors · Global impact

  • This book is a publication of

    Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA

    Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931 Orders by e-mail [email protected]

    © 2011 by Andreas Staab All rights reserved

    No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.

    The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.

    Manufactured in the United States of America

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Staab, Andreas, [date] The European Union explained : institutions, actors, global impact / Andreas Staab. — 2nd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-22303-6 (pb : alk. paper) 1. European Union. I. Title. JN30.S713 2011 341.242'2—dc22 2010050626

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  • To Sophia and Luisa. Europeans by birth and maybe even by choice.

  • contents

    Preface · ix Acknowledgments · xiii List of Acronyms · xv List of Tables · xix

    Pa r t On e · t he e v Ol u ti On Of the e ur OPean u ni On

    1 Parameters of European Integration · 3 2 Enlargement · 31

    Pa r t t w O · i ns titu ti Ons

    3 The European Commission · 47 4 The European Council · 54 5 The Council of Ministers · 59 6 The European Parliament · 65 7 The European Court of Justice · 74 8 Checks and Balances · 82

    Par t t hree · POli cies

    9 The Single Market and Competition · 91 10 Regional Policy and Cohesion · 104 11 The Common Agricultural Policy · 114 12 Economic and Monetary Union · 126 13 Justice and Home Affairs · 141 14 Common Foreign and Security Policy · 151 15 Trade and the Common Commercial Policy · 161 16 Environment · 170

    Conclusion · 177

    Notes · 181 Bibliography · 199 Index · 203

  • preface

    The European Union (EU) today differs considerably from the integration project that began in the 1950s. Initially conceived as a way to safeguard peace and enable economic recovery among six Western European countries, the EU has developed into one of the world’s most formidable trading blocs spanning much of the Euro- pean continent. Its future, however, is very much in flux. The controversies over the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and disagreements concerning policy reforms and how to finance them have once again evoked fundamental disagreements over the future direction of the EU. Given the prospect of enlargement to the western Balkans and Turkey, some member states argue against further political integration whereas others continue to push for ambitious policy and institutional reforms.

    Regardless of the outcome of this debate, the European Union represents a hugely influential vehicle for organizing Europe and constitutes a unique experiment of “deep” international cooperation. Economically it has boosted prosperity levels. Politically it has fostered the democratic transition of former fascist and communist dictatorships. It has helped to overcome the artificial division of Europe caused by the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, and has also assumed a global vanguard posi- tion in the fight against climate change. On the other hand, the EU has often been criticized for favoring big business over the economic and social needs of its citizens. Others accuse the EU of lacking transparency and accountability in its institutional processes, and some claim that European integration has led to the gradual erosion of national and cultural differences and traditions.

    For these reasons the EU remains a highly intriguing subject, as it offers clear ex- amples of the impact of politics on societies. The EU is not the European equivalent

  • x · Preface

    of the United States of America, but it is also much more than a traditional inter- national organization. Throughout its existence, European leaders have continually been faced with far-reaching decisions: Which issues are better organized at the EU level and which should remain under the domain of the nation-state? Must mem- ber states give up parts of their national sovereignty for the sake of creating an ever closer union? To what extent should national differences prevail on how to organize a society’s political, economic, social, and cultural spheres? From these perspectives, the past decades of the European integration project have given us valuable lessons in state building and the choices confronting political leaders and citizens.

    This book offers a broad overview of the politics and policies of the European Union. Part 1 focuses on the key economic and political parameters but also the main actors and processes that have shaped the EU integration process, concluding with a discussion of enlargement that charts the development of the EU into a union of twenty-seven member states. Part 2 discusses the EU’s institutional mechanisms and main actors, and part 3 deals with crucial policies and their impact on European societies and the wider world.

    In recent years the EU has been the subject of a broad range of books and aca- demic articles. To my knowledge, however, the overwhelming majority of publica- tions are directed at an audience already tuned in to the language of political science and its related analytical and methodological concepts. Postgraduate and academic readership, in particular, seems to have a comprehensive library of materials on the EU. On the other hand, a number of publications portray the EU in a rather basic and rudimentary light. I was encouraged by the often positive feedback—not only from students but also from the “general public”—which the first edition received. It led me to the tentative conclusion that this book contributed to closing this gap, by offering an in-depth yet concise introduction to the European Union and its in- stitutions and policies in a style accessible to undergraduate as well as high school students, indeed to any reader, young or old, academic or professional, with an interest in politics and history.

    Since the publication of the first edition in the spring of 2009, the European Union has yet again undergone a remarkable transformation. The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 resulted in wide-ranging institutional adaptations. Around the same time, the climate conference in Copenhagen established the EU as a leading—albeit on this occasion not fully successful—global environmental player. The worldwide economic crises of 2008 and 2009 caused financial havoc for some members of the Eurozone and momentarily brought Economic and Monetary Union—one of the cornerstones of European integration of recent