nl en

Structure and Functioning of the EU




Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: similarly-tagged 100/200-level courses or permission from the course instructor.

Course description

This course offers an introduction to the legal framework of the European Union, often called a legal subject sui generis, meaning that it is unique in its characteristics as compared with other regional organizations. EU law is increasingly important for national legal systems, so this course shows which legal problems may arise and which solutions have been developed.

The course explains the establishment of the EU and the development of EU law and policy since. Relevant questions include: how is the EU organized and how does it function? Which institutions exist within the EU and what is their role? What does EU law regulate and why? How does the European legal order interact with the domestic orders of its Member States? What is the position of individuals within EU law and how are their rights under EU law protected?

The weekly seminars focus on these institutional questions, helping students to critically assess the EU in its legal context. They zoom in on particular topics, such as decision making in law and in practice, judicial protection in the EU teaching, students how to apply the general rules to specific case studies. Topical issues such as the enlargement fatigue of the EU, terrorist lists and their implementation in the EU legal order, asylum issues and the economic crisis, will be discussed through group presenations.

This course may serve as a potential replacement for the course Inleiding tot Europees Recht at Leiden Law School.

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will have acquired the following skills:

  • Basic knowledge of EU law and policy

  • Ability to apply this knowledge to case studies regarding the history and development of European integration; the nature and core principles of the EU legal system and the interaction with the legal systems of the Member States; the sources and forms of EU law and their applicability; the legal position of EU citizens and their protection under EU law;

  • Ability to recognize and analyse situations in which EU law is applicable and can be used to solve legal problems

  • Ability to read and examine decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU, together with other sources of law, in order to build and support a legal argument

  • Ability to work with and solve a case study through the assignment

  • Ability to critically assess current topics, using knowledge about EU law and policy, so as to form a well-substantiated opinion in debates about the EU and its future


In-class participation, 10%, Weeks 1-7
Group presentation on a topical issue, 20%, TBA
Individual essay, 30%, TBA
Final exam, 40%, Week 8

Compulsory literature

Course materials such as cases of the Court of Justice of the EU or EU legislation, assignments, or articles on recent developments, will be made available on blackboard.

Mandatory reading:

  • Nigel Foster, Foster on EU Law, 4th ed, 2013, Oxford University Press.

  • Cases and/or legislation assigned for each class (see syllabus and Blackboard)

  • Reading materials uploaded on Blackboard if applicable

As an optional learning aid I highly recommend Essential EU Law in Charts (2nd Lisbon Edition) by C. Tobler and J. Beglinger (Budapest, 2010) (for a preview see

For a general overview on the constitutional foundations and institutional set up of the European Union, see The ABC of European Union Law, by Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, available online at

Last but not least, we would strongly recommend that you watch the videos of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), The Law of the European Union: An Introduction, by Prof. Stefaan Van den Bogaert on This MOOC covers diverse topics starting with the creation of the EU, its institutional architecture, the four freedoms and competition law as well as the euro crisis.

In addition we expect you to follow the news on the European Union. Over the course you are expected to acquire yourself a minimum of general knowledge about the European Union and current developments.
Useful websites and blogs are:

Contact information

Dr. Darinka Piqani