Edited by Klaus Liebscher, Josef Christl, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald
Chapter 23: European integration and finalité politique
23. European integration and ﬁnalité politique Johan Verhaeven1 The concept of political union is hard to pin down: does it mean a traditional state-based model of governance, with strong central institutions and a single external identity, or does it refer to a looser form of common policies and institutions, without necessarily conforming to the characteristics of a nation state? Do we deﬁne political union through institutions, policies, the political system? Through the ability to raise taxes and make budgetary transfers? The EU remains, in the words of Jacques Delors, ‘an unidentiﬁed political object’. If we deﬁne political union in terms of supranational or federal level institutions and integrated policies, the EU has evolved to show several of these features: ● ● ● a federal, directly-elected parliament – the European Parliament (although it shares legislative power with the Council); a federal executive – the European Commission (although the Commission is still far from being a ‘government’, and has to share executive power with member states); a legal order which gives European instruments primacy over national legislation, and a judicial authority resembling a constitutional court to enforce this – the European Court of Justice. In terms of policies, the EU is a hybrid system: the Community (federal) method is applied in some cases, while other issues are dealt with intergovernmentally, although the historical trend has been towards communitarization (Commission initiative; increased use of co-decision; Qualiﬁed Majority Voting in Council) of policy areas (Single Act, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice, Justice and Home Aﬀairs in the...
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