The Political Economy of European Integration

Course content

Despite its present tribulations, the European Union (EU) remains one of the boldest projects of market making in recent history. This course uses a political economy frame to think through the dynamics and dilemmas of that project. European integration is associated with the development of both a transnational economic space and a regime of supranational governance. The former is typically presented as a pathway to growth and prosperity for the peoples of Europe, but the latter implies the disturbance of national political communities and democratic modes of government. European integration takes place amidst and contributes to the recurrent ordering and reordering of the global capitalist economy. European integration is sometimes seen as an embodiment of ‘globalization’; others regard the EU as a major bulwark against globalization. The course is organized around three core aspects of European economic integration and three core dilemmas. The core aspects are (1) the politics of market-making; (2) the governance of supranational economic space and (3) the capacity of the EU to exercise agency within global economic governance and in the face of globalization. The dilemmas can be defined as (1) the politics of social solidarity in light of market integration, (2) the challenges to integration posed by social and economic diversity across Europe and (3) the threat of disintegration. Consideration of these aspects and dilemmas will run through the course, which will be organized in terms of the following sessions:



  1. Dilemmas and trilemmas of European economic integration
  2. Globalization and regional integration: is Europe different?
  3. European economic integration since the nineteenth century
  4. Capitalist diversity in Europe
  5. The single market and the politics of European liberalisation
  6. The European social model and the politics of market correction
  7. Redistribution: regional policy and agriculture
  8. Monetary union 1: the building of a flawed regime
  9. Monetary union 2: managing the Eurozone in crisis
  10. European economic governance after the crisis
  11. Free movement
  12. Market power? The EU in the global economy
  13. Conclusions: the political economy of European disintegration?

Bachelor student (2012 programme curriculum): 10 ECTS

Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS

Learning outcome

On completion of the course, students should

Knowledge and understanding

  • have a clear understanding of the main contours of theoretical and policy-relevant debates about the political economy of European integration;
  • have good knowledge of the history and institutional supports of European economic integration;
  • have a solid knowledge of the literature on the relationship between the EU and globalization;
  • have a demonstrable appreciation of the ways in which the EU operates as an actor within the global economic system.



  • demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively with fellow students on relevant problem-solving and discussion tasks;
  • demonstrate skill (either individually or collaboratively) in developing a executing a written piece of work on a topic of interest that falls within the relevant thematic parameters of the course;
  • demonstrate an interest in and an ability to connect urgent policy debates with deeper scholarly puzzles;



  • be able to time manage weekly reading assignments as well as planning an extended piece of work over a period of several weeks;
  • show the ability to work in a structured and systematic manner;
  • be well placed to move on to further or advanced study of cognate topics and issue areas, particularly in relation to international and comparative political economy

Mini-lectures, small group exercises (including role plays and problem-solving tasks), plenary debates.

An indicative list of texts follows. Many of the required readings will be scholarly articles.  The full reading list will be made available in December 2019.

- Baldwin, R. and Wyplosz, C. The Economic s of European Integration (5th edition), McGraw Hill, 2015.

- Dinan, D., Nugent, N. and Paterson, W.E. (eds) The European Union in Crisis, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

- Eichengreen, B. The European Economy Since 1945: Coordinated Capitalism and Beyond, Princeton University Press, 2008.

- Journal of European Public Policy, Volume 17 No. 3, special issue on ‘Europe and the Management of Globalization’.

- Matthijs, M. and Blyth, M. (eds) The Future of the Euro, Oxford University Press, 2015.

- Ryner, M. and Cafruny, A. The European Union and Global Capitalism. Origins, Development, Crisis, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Relevant bachelor courses in political science and international relations. Prior study of European integration/the European Union is not required but an interest in both EU studies and political economy as an approach is essential.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester


  • Students will be encouraged to discuss with the course convener their ideas for written assignments from conception to advanced planning stage;
  • A portion of one session will be devoted to discussing the results of the mid-term evaluation, which will be administered via a questionnaire distributed in advance;
  • There will be regular general discussions of the expectations regarding assignments.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No 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