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EU Politics and Policy



The European Union is facing unprecedented challenges. Instead of the anticipated calm after the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU is faced with a lack of solidarity between North and South and an institutional struggle for finding new roles between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. External and internal economic instability and the inherent imbalance between the economies of the member states have destabilized the euro, the common currency shared by seventeen of the twenty seven member states. The EU is facing a crisis to which it can either respond or, according to some commentators, slide into disintegration and economic stagnation.
It is especially important in such times to understand how the EU works and how the interaction between member states and institutions produces policy outcomes that affect every single citizen of the Union. Acquainting students with the core institutions and policies of the EU is the purpose of this course. The course builds on the first year course ‘Bestuurskunde I’ (Public Administration I) in which the European Union is introduced in the context of the internationalization of governance structures in the Netherlands. This course follows up with an overview of the European Union emerging as a new layer of governance in Europe in the last few decades.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students with a solid foundation for understanding the structures and policies of the EU. When they have completed this course, students should have a good understanding of:

  • the most important theories and theoretical approaches widely used for explaining European integration;

  • institutions and decision making processes in the European Union;

  • key policies and the interactions of institutions

  • new challenges and current issues of governance in the EU

  • the Union’s presence in the world and geographical expansion.
    After completing the working groups, students should also have acquired:

  • the ability to research the implementation of a piece of EU legislation, working in a team and acquiring new data on it through interviews and documentary sources

  • the ability to plan, execute and present the results of a joint research task in a team

Time table

The (provisional) timetable is on the first page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of lectures and working groups. The working groups do not discuss the material of the lectures but are dedicated to a separate research task which students need to complete as a team. In addition, the course includes a guest lecture by a speaker engaged with the EU in a professional capacity.

Assessment method

60% written exam
40% team paper
Course material is also obligatory for the exam and the paper, as far as it is set out in sheets, handouts and other information media.


Instructors use Blackboard. The page of the course is available from a week before the course starts.

Reading list

Michelle Cini and Nieves Perez Solorzano-Borragan 2013, European Union Politics, Oxford University Press. 4th edition.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the “Prospective students website”: for information on how to apply.



Dr. Rik de Ruiter