JSIS A 494
Introduction to research into European topics and to the analysis of problems.
Studying the European Union (EU) confronts us with an intriguing puzzle with regard to its effects on the evolution of parliamentary democracy in Europe. On the one hand, it represents the only case of an international organisation with a directly elected parliament, with a steady increase of the powers of the European Parliament (EP) in legislation and the appointment and control of the EU executive. In this sense, the EU appears as a fascinating and in many ways successful experiment of a transfer of parliamentary democracy to the supranational level. On the other hand, observers both in political science and public debate deplore the lack of communicative links between the EP and ordinary citizens and gaps in the control of the EP over the most crucial decisions of the EU. Moreover, scholars studying national parliaments have criticised the tendency of European integration to create a „depoliticisation“ and „deparliamentarisation“ of domestic policy-making, as an ever increasing amount of political competences of nation states is transferred to the European level and thus removed from the sphere of influence of domestic legislatures. Addressing this puzzle, we will study the evolution and powers of the EP and go on to look at national parliaments in a comparative perspective, and finally addressing more normative questions concerning the state of democracy in the EU, and potential solutions to alleviate its „democratic deficit“.
Student learning goals
- Increased knowledge of EU politics, with a focus on the role of the EP;
- Reflection of normative literature about the EU´s „democratic deficit“;
- Hands-on knowledge of current political debates concerning the EU
- Comparative assessment of adaptation of national parliaments to the EU
- Reflection of debates and concepts in relation to „Europeanisation“.
General method of instruction
Lectures, discussion, group work, use of audiovisual material covering EP election campaign ads and parliamentary sessions, both at plenary and committee level.
Participation in the course requires at least some working knowledge of the evolution and institutions of the European Union and, ideally, of the political systems in Western Europe. Basic knowledge of concepts and methods of comparative political science is also required. Knowledge of theories of European integration desirable.
Class assignments and grading
Participation in class, reading, presentation and discussion of texts, handing in of mid-term draft and final term paper.