COURSE: The political economy of European integration

Course content

The present-day European Union grew out of an economic project, and political economy has always been central to the progression of European integration. However, as the current crisis shows, this has not always been unproblematic. This module therefore takes a comprehensive approach to the role of political economy in the EU – considering the history of the process, the current policies, and the political debates that have characterised its evolution. It also focuses on the institutions responsible for creating the Union’s policies in times of crisis, to enable students to gain systematic insight into the key actors in the EU’s contemporary political economy.

1. Introduction to the course and political economy

2. Theories of integration

3. The history and theory of economic integration

4. Fiscal policy I: The Common Agricultural Policy

5. Fiscal policy II: Structural and regional funding

6. Integration I: The single market

7. Integration II: The ‘snake’ and EMS

8. Integration III: EMU and the Euro

9. The European Parliament: negotiating the TTIP

10. DG ECFIN: one market, one money

11. The ECOFIN council, Eurogroup, and the SGP abeyance

12. The European Council: negotiating the six pack

13. The ECB: whatever it takes, OMTs

14. Economic integration within the EU


Competency descriptions

By the end of the course, students will have a sound knowledge of the various political-economic functions of the European Union, as well as a sense of the history of economic integration and the role various actors have played in it. The course will fit particularly well within a programme featuring other courses on the EU and is designed to complement these courses. It will equip students with a strong basis for understanding the Euro crisis, and for comprehending more broadly how government institutions mediate between different demands. It would therefore prove useful to students hoping to go into a range of careers, particularly those involving public or quasi-public institutions.  


Elective course in the "Specialization in European Union Studies"

The course is open to all students at the department

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS
Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome

The objective of the seminar is to enable students to…

  1. Demonstrate a strong familiarity with key EU policies, and be able to articulate the economic and political trade-offs that underpin them,

  2. Evidence knowledge of the featured institutions’ competencies and their relationship to the policy making process,

  3. Reflect on how economic integration underpins EU integration more generally, and how theories can have a bearing on our understanding of this process,

  4. Be able to relate general conceptual understanding to specific case studies.


The course features two-hour sessions that partly comprise mini-lectures and seminar activities, and are partly student led. To this end, the assessment will encourage students to build on their knowledge and bring this to class. Assessment will take the form of take home assignments and presentations.

This course will be largely based around journal articles and weekly reading. However, some indicative reading that will help students prepare includes:

El-Agraa, A. (ed.), The European Union: Economics and Policies (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Baldwin, R. and Wyplosz, C. (2006) The Economics of European Integration, Second Edition (Berkshire: McGraw-Hill Education)

Buonanno, L. and Nugent, N. (2013) Policies and Policy Processes of the European Union (Hampshire: Palgrave)


The course is offered as part of the EU specialisation, although it is open to all students. Students who have not taken the specialisation’s ‘core’ course will need to possess or be willing to independently acquire equivalent knowledge, particularly around the basic features of the institutions and functions of the EU. If you are in any doubt, or need recommendations for preparatory reading, please contact the course leader.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Oral synopsis exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28