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Challenges to European Integration and Scenarios for its Future


Course description

In the context of the crises that the EU has faced over the last decade, such as the sovereign debt crisis and the asylum crisis or Brexit, it has become clear that there are serious (and possibly unbearable) obstacles on the path towards more European integration. Member states have often faced difficulties reaching consensus on how to address problems together at the EU level. Where they managed, they did not always consider transferring new competences to the EU and its institutions to be the best option on the table. What makes it so difficult for the EU to continue on its path to an ever-closer union, and under these circumstances, what are possible scenarios for the future of European integration? This is the central question of this Bachelor seminar. In this course, we a) reflect on the current state of European integration and how we got there, b) identify the challenges and obstacles which European integration has been facing over the last decade and c) critically assess the ability of debated scenarios as well as proposals to offer a better response. First, we will look at the history of European integration and review the most important theories. Studying the challenges the EU has been confronted with over the past decade in the second step, we will pursue a twofold approach. Focusing on the politicisation of EU politics, we will discuss a more general obstacle to European integration. Moreover, we will look at the most significant crises which have put the EU under pressure in the last decade, the sovereign-debt crisis, the asylum crisis, and the Covid-19 crisis. We analyse what challenges and deficits they have revealed. In the third step, we will critically engage with the ongoing debate on the future of the EU. We will review the different proposals or scenarios on how European integration could proceed and evaluate them against their capability to respond to the challenges as well as obstacles we have identified before.

Course objectives

  • To familiarise students with the academic debate on the challenges to European integration, crises in the EU and the existing proposals for the future of the EU

  • To encourage students to critically evaluate current dynamics of European integration, assess different proposals that are discussed regarding the future of the EU and make contributions to the debate relying on different types of media

  • To motivate students to develop their own research interests in the field and guide them in examining their ideas in their analytical papers

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Academic Article Presentation and Discussion (25%)
Opinion Piece on the Future of European integration (choose between blog entry, vlog or podcast) (25%)
Final Academic Paper (50%)

Reading list

The course readings consist of academic journal articles and book chapters. The detailed reading list is part of the syllabus and will available before the start of the course on Brightspace.

Students who want to familiarise themselves with issues, dynamics and proposals discussed throughout the seminar can consult the following two sources:

Riddervold, M.; Trondal, J. & Newsome, A. (eds.) (2021) The Palgrave Handbook of EU crises. London: Palgrave Macmillian

European Commission (2017): White Paper on the Future of Europe. Brussels: European Commission.


See 'Practical information'.