EU policy and policy making

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Economic, social and foreign policy

Course leader: 
Live dates: 
Monday, 15 February 2021 to Sunday, 30 May 2021
Live meetings: 
Thursdays at 12.00 (Bucharest)

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Aims and scope: 

In this course you will discover what the EU does in the different policy fields, such as economic policy (single market, EMU), social policy (citizenship, agriculture, regions) and foreign policy (trade, development, CFSP), and use that knowledge as a basis for you to understand how the EU works. This course differs from traditional courses in EU institutions and policies in that it has an open-up approach. Instead of spending the first half of the course explaining how EU institutions work before starting to discuss what the EU does in practice, this course will present you with actual contemporary examples of EU policy from the very start. This approach has great potential to engage you by stressing the practical applicability of the topics you will study from the very start of the course. This course will also introduce you to the economic and public policy analysis of EU policies, which will allow you to develop general analytical and theoretical skills that will serve you as foundations for more advanced studies or that you will be able to transfer directly to non-academic jobs. Weekly seminar questions and discussions on important topical issues will encourage you to develop other useful skills, such as the ability to research independently, offer and receive peer review and discuss with others to elucidate an issue.

More specifically, the objectives of the course are threefold: 1) EMPIRICAL-DESCRIPTIVE: providing a detailed description of what the European Union does in different policy areas, from economic policy (single market, EMU), to social policy (citizenship, agriculture, regions) and foreign policy (trade, development, CFSP). For example: Do external border regions grow more slowly than others? Is the EU budget regressive? Is the EU more protectionist than the US? 2. THEORETICAL-ANALYTICAL: explaining this reality with the help of positive theories from the economic and political realm. Why does the economy of the North East region of Romania not grow as much as others? Why is so much emigration? Why does not Romania join the Eurozone? Why is food more expensive in the EU than in the US? Why is the North East region receiving so much EU funding? Why does the ESF fund postdoctoral fellowships in countries with poor basic education systems? Why has negotiating a trade agreement with Mercosur taken more than 20 years? 3. NORMATIVE-CRITICAL: developing a normative-critical approach based on a solid analysis of reality about the problems that EU citizens and leaders will face and will face in the next decade. For example: Should a Google tax be imposed by the EU? Should Romania join the Eurozone? Is the Stability and Growth Pact too strict or too flexible? Is EU competition policy too tight with European champions? Should the EU enlarge to Ukraine or Moldova? Should there be a European army? Should trade with the US or China be liberalized?

The key to unlocking this course is twofold. On the one hand, EU policies affect citizens differently depending on their social group or territory, which generates differences in their preferences for those EU policies. On the other hand, these differences are resolved within the current EU institutional system. Only after analyzing both the political conflicts and rules of the policy-making game will we be able to understand the resulting EU policies.


INTRODUCTION: 1. The European Union: political conflicts, democratic institutions and public policies. Why aren't good policies always good politics? The scientific study of the EU. Structure of the course: an open-up approach? SINGLE MARKET POLICIES: 2. The common market: the first EU policy. The theory of economic integration: preferential trade agreement, free trade area, customs union, common market. Common market: tariffs and quotas, common external policy, mobility of production factors: labour and capital. The social and regional effects of the common market: winners and losers from trade and factor mobility. National effects of joining the common market: trade creation and trade diversion. If Moldova joined the EU customs union, which trade effect would prevail, trade creation or trade diversion? (El-Agraa, 2011, ch. 6). 3. The single market. Non-tariff barriers: physical, technical and fiscal barriers. Mutual recognition and harmonization. Economic impact of the single market. The single market for services. The Digital Single Market (El-Agraa, 2011, ch. 7); El-Agraa, 2015: 101-114; Wallace, 2020, ch. 5, 12). 4. Economic and Monetary Union. Theory of optimal currency areas (OCAs). The evolution of EMU. How EMU works. The European Central Bank. The Stability Pact. The Sixpack. (El-Agraa, 2011, ch. 10-12; El-Agraa, 2015: 171-230; Wallace, 2020, ch. 7). 5. Single market policies: competition, industrial and competitiveness policies, fiscal harmonization, transport, energy, environment (El-Agraa, 2015: 114-130, Wallace, 2020: ch. 6, 13, 14). SOCIAL POLICIES: 6. The EU budget. Financing the budget. Own resources (El-Agraa, 2015: 150-170, Wallace, 2020, ch. 9). 7. Common agricultural policy. Theory, practice and impact. Evolution and reform (El-Agraa, 2015: 130-134; Wallace, 2020: ch. 8). 8. Regional policy: theory, practice and impact (El-Agraa, 2015: 134-139, Wallace, 2020, ch. 10). 9. Social policy. European Social Fund. From labor mobility to EU citizenship. The Schengen area, citizens' rights, justice. Erasmus (El-Agraa, 2015: 139-141, Wallace, 2020, ch. 11). FOREIGN POLICIES: 10. The common commercial policy. The World Trade Organization. Trade deals. Trade defense measures. (El-Agraa, 2015: 141-143; Wallace, 2020, ch. 16). 11. Development policy. Immigration policy. (El-Agraa, 2015: 143-149; Wallace, 2020, ch. 18). 12. Common foreign and security policy. (Wallace, 2020, ch. 17). 13. EU enlargement: theory, evolution (Wallace, 2020, ch. 19). CONCLUSION: 14. Cohesion and reform of the European Union.

Indicative reading: 

Essential reading: Wallace, H., M.A. Pollack, C. Roederer-Rynning, and A.R. Young (eds) (2020). Policy-Making in the European Union, Eighth edition. Oxford University Press. Further reading: El-Agraa, A. (2015). The European Union Illuminated: Its Nature, Importance and Future. Palgrave Macmillan. Chapters 4-6; El-Agraa, A.M. (2011). The European Union: economics and policies, Ninth edition. Cambridge University Press. Chapters 6-25; Hix, S. and B. Hoyland (2011). The Political System of the European Union, 3rd edition. Palgrave Macmillan. Chapters 8-12.

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