European integration — in the meantime stretching back more than 70 years to the 1950 Schuman declaration — has since the aftermath of WWII contributed to peace among and an unprecedented level of well being of European Union member states. So much indeed that its achievements have come to be taken almost for granted.
The process of ever-closer European integration is a most valuable and ambitious project that also makes a fascinating subject of study. Yet, as many a public discussion and statement illustrate, discussions of the European Union and its functioning are often beset by a lack of knowledge and understanding. Of course, European integration is a moving target, and access to the subject not exactly facilitated by its very dynamism and (institutional) complexity, nor helped by an at best underdeveloped European public space. To complicate matters further, it is at times of crisis that both European integration and its intricacies are tested.
Nonetheless, it was difficult to imagine that even the first chapter (and the first class in March of the course’s 2021/2022 edition) on the values and fundamental motivation for European integration — avoiding another war on European soil, heeding the lessons from WWII — could ever look anything but an important reference to a distant, overcome past. Russia’s 24 February 2022 invasion of Ukraine changed those assumptions by bringing war back to European soil, with an unimaginable scale of destruction in and human toll on Ukraine. Yet, this latest crisis, too, has already triggered more European integration, at various levels, and given new impetus to the integration project with increased demand for membership. It
also provides a test for the European Green Deal as a comprehensive framework for dealing with multiple crises, which we consider in our ongoing work a third pillar of the EU’s economic model, alongside the Internal Market and Economic and Monetary Union.
Our motivation for (finally) writing up our notes for classes on the political economy of European integration comes, first and foremost, from the recognition by so many that trying to make a vast subject more accessible, providing a framework for analysis and comprehension for what is a complex and moving target, made a difference and gave students a better notion of the value, workings and course of European integration. The book aims at striking a balance, trying to be as complete as necessary and up-to-date as possible while the subject constantly evolves and cannot be treated in an exhaustive way in a limited number of lessons. The fundamental aim of the lessons (and the selection of topics) is to equip students with an understanding and the instruments to assess and interpret the European Union in its multi-faceted and evolving aspects, which are discussed at times in detail for illustration purposes.
The book refers readers whenever possible to two books of reference on European economic and monetary integration, authored by Baldwin and Wyplosz (2019) and De Grauwe (2020), respectively, which have been used as the two main readings for the course.1 To facilitate learning and self-assessment, each chapter is preceded by a box that spells out learning objectives and the central concept(s) of the chapter and by quotations from leading personalities and scholars, which call attention for some of the main questions to be discussed; it moreover features footnotes (rather than endnotes) and references. Throughout, where applicable, the economic fundamentals and concepts relevant for EU policies are set out. Also, we kept this first version of our lessons in the format of class summaries (under construction) to be read before class, which need to be complemented by the respective class presentations that feature graphical illustrations, tables, data, theoretical and real-life examples and polls. The latter are open for students to express their opinion so that the global results can be discussed in class.
The book’s objective is to provide readers with the necessary basis and instruments for understanding European governance, explaining how Europe is governed without a government and how its institutions and policies function. The book applies a political economy lens to the process of European integration. It draws on various theoretical frameworks, namely also on the main European integration theories and approaches (sub-theories) to European integration — see box 1.3 (a parenthesis) — and the confluence of economics, politica science and international relations through their various specific domains, notably: international (and European) political economy, comparative politics; political economics and economic policy coordination; and institutionalism.2 It addresses the economic fundamentals of the EU’s policies, in the economic (international trade, the single market and regulation and competition policy) and monetary (the single currency) spheres, as well as the environment, energy and climate policies (culminating in the European Green Deal). As European integration has been built in response to crises, the book makes reference throughout to the various crises Europe went through and how they influenced the EU’s evolution.
These lessons start out with some historical background against which European integration takes place in the post-WWII era. After all, without some understanding of history, one cannot understand European integration. Still, history is necessary but not sufficient to explain why European integration has evolved the way it has. The same can be said for economics, whose importance we stress throughout, as a prism. It has served not least as a vehicle for political integration. In our view, complementarity, by means of interdisciplinarity (and not merely cross-disciplinarity, where only the method of a discipline is used in another domain), is indispensable for a complete analysis of European integration and EU (endogenous) institutions. Only the use of various theories and approaches can capture the complexity of the economic, institutional and political issues at stake in the creation and development of EU institutions and the sustainability of European integration, which is the aim of our course on the Political Economy of European Integration. Let us draw the attention of our readers (and students) for what two leading political economy scholars stated already almost two decades ago:
‘(…) much of what is happening in Europe cannot be understood from a single point of view. More than ever before, students of European integration must look at their subject from a range of perspectives, they must use different toolkits, and they must be willing to challenge their own assumptions’.
Erik Jones and Amy Verdun (2005), “Introduction”, in E. Jones and A. Verdun (eds), The Political Economy of European Integration. Theory and Analysis, New York: Routledge, p. 1.
At the time of the second edition of this course at Católica Lisbon in 2019, within the international conference of the Erasmus+ project on the European Semester (Jean Monnet Network), we convened a roundtable on integrating research and teaching with many of our colleagues who teach European integration, notably João Amador (Nova SBE), Lorenzo Codogno (LSE), Valerie D’Erman (U. Victoria), Ana Fontoura Gouveia (Nova SBE), Helena Guimarães (U. Minho), Mark Hallerberg (Hertie School of Governance and Berlin School of Economics), Jörg Haas (Hertie School of Governance and Berlin School of Economics), Marina Costa Lobo (ICS), Jorge Braga de Macedo (Nova SBE and Lisbon Academy of Sciences), Catherine Moury (Nova FCHS), George Pagoulatos (U. Athens), Pompeo Della Posta (U. Pisa), Miguel Rocha de Sousa (U. Évora), Daniel Schulz (U. Munich), Paul Schure (U. Victoria), Elsa Vaz (U. Évora), Amy Verdun (U. Leiden and U. Victoria), who led the Erasmus+ Project, and Paulo Vila Maior (UFP and European Studies Section of APCP) and the Católica Lisbon SBE and the Nova SBE students and Economics Clubs. The meeting provided us with the impetus to associate our research projects more closely to our students of the political economy of European integration and to put our (work in progress) lessons down in writing. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our colleagues and to Católica Lisbon for hosting that meeting and the second conference of the Erasmus+ project, whose success owes much to the dedicated and competent help of our students/research assistants Dina Rodrigues, Martim Leitão and Pedro Melo.
We are indebted to many people with whom we had the privilege to discuss the political economy of European integration over the years, colleagues but also patient friends and family. While it would be impossible to name them all, let us refer, without implicating, some of those who have helped to clarify one or the other issue and/or with whom we have discussed in more detail some of the topics here examined, namely Michael Artis, Stefano Bartolini, Michele Chang, Stefan Collignon, Francisco Pereira Coutinho, Paul De Grauwe, Joan Costa-Font, Miguel Lebre de Freitas, Jeffry Frieden, Vitor Gaspar, Francesco Giavazzi, Daniel Gros, Erik Jones, Paul Krugman, Marina Costa Lobo, Ernâni Lopes, José Magone, Jorge Braga de Macedo, Paulo Vila Maior, Stephen Martin, Francesco Mongelli, Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Jacques Pelkmans, Manuel Porto, Pompeo Della Posta, Lucia Quaglia, Miguel Rocha de Sousa, Waltraud Schelkle, Simona Talani, José Tavares, Amy Verdun, Max Watson, Chiara Zilioli, Jan Zielonka and Hubert Zimmermann. Vitor Gaspar and Amy Verdun have also generously taken their time to read the manuscript, providing useful suggestions and the kind endorsements of the book.
We are also grateful for feedback from the many students of the various (different) bachelor’s, master’s or PhD courses that somehow overlapped with the contents of this book, and which we taught, notably at the Institute for European Studies, Universidade Católica (1991-2011), the University of Aveiro (2002-06), the University of Victoria (2005), the University of Rome II (2008), the National Institute for Public Administration (2004-2018), and the various modules and/or classes taught over the years at ISEG (2005), the Institute for Social Sciences (ICS) in Lisbon (2006), the University of Pisa (2004-06), the University of Bolzano (2007), the Berlin School of Economics and Law (2008), the University of Oxford (PPE; 2012-13), the European Institute for Public Administration / European External Action Service of the EU (2013), the London School of Economics and Political Science (2014-19), King’s College London (2014-19) and occasional lectures, open seminars, summer schools and webinars to students on European integration of the University of Évora, the University of Aveiro, the ICS, the University of Düsseldorf, Nova SBE, Nova FCHS, the University of Minho, the University of San Diego, the College of Europe, Bruges, and the Johns Hopkins University, SAIS, Bologna. We would like to thank José Máximo C. Silva, Martim Leitão, Henri Graul and Melissa Erisen for their kind words on the course taught at Católica Lisbon (reproduced on the book flap), whose programme already followed the lessons contained in this book.
Our thanks go also to friends and colleagues at Católica Lisbon and programme directors of the BSc and MSc in Economics in the last 5 years, notably Teresa Lloyd Braga, Ana Canhoto, Rita Coelho do Vale, Catarina Reis and Joana Silva, for proposing the course on the political economy of European integration and for their constant support throughout its various editions. The faculty support and students affairs units, notably Laura Pedro and her team, could not have been more helpful, especially when we all moved to on-line and hybrid teaching. Pedro Melo has contributed with excellent assistance as grader and research assistant to the last three editions of the course and associated projects.
Last but not least, we would like to thank UCE, namely Peter Hanenberg and Anabela Antunes for promptly welcoming the idea of publishing these lessons and suggesting how best to proceed, Margarida Appleton for swiftly and patiently guiding the manuscript to press and Francisco Silva Pereira for an excellent editorial review.
Grotfeldshof, August 2022