Hix-Hoyland_ThePoliticalSystemOfTheEU_Ch1 - Chapter 1...

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Chapter 1 Introduction: Explaining the EU Political System The Institutional and Policy Architecture of the EU What Is the EU? A Political System but not a State Two Theories of EU Politics Structure of the Book The European Union (EU) is a remarkable achievement. It is the result of a process of voluntary integration between the nation-states of Europe. The EU began in the 1950s with six states, grew to 15 in the 1990s, enlarged to 27 in the 2000s, and is likely to grow even further. The EU started out as a common market in coal and steel products and has evolved into an economic, social, and political union. European integra- tion has also produced a set of supranational executive, legislative, and judicial institutions with significant authority over many areas of public policy. But, this book is not about the history of ‘European integration’, as this story has been told at length elsewhere (for example Dedman, 2009). Nor does it try to explain European integration and the major turning points in this process, as this too has been the focus of much political science research and theorizing (for example Moravcsik, 1998; Wiener and Diez 2009). Instead, the aim of this book is to understand and explain how the EU works today. Is the European Commission a runaway bureaucracy? How powerful is the European Parliament? Does the European Court of Justice (ECJ) favour some member states over others? Why do some citizens support the EU while others oppose it? Is there a ‘democratic deficit’ in the way the EU works? Why are some social groups more able than others to influence the EU? Is the EU single market deregulatory or re-regulatory? Who are the winners and losers from expenditure policies? Does economic and monetary union work? Has the EU extended citizens’ rights and freedoms? Can the EU speak with a single voice on the world stage? We could treat the EU as a unique experiment, which of course in many respects it is since no other continent has progressed so far in the process of supranational integration. However, the above questions could be asked of any ‘political system’, whether domestic or suprana- tional. Also, political science has an array of theoretical tools to answer 1
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exactly these sorts of questions. Instead of a general theory of how polit- ical systems work, political science has a series of mid-level explanations of the main processes that are common to all political systems, such as public opinion, interest-group mobilization, legislative bargaining, dele- gation to executive and bureaucratic agents, economic policy-making, citizen–state relations, and international political and economic rela- tions. Consequently, the main argument of this book is that to help us understand how the EU works, we should use the tools, methods, and mid-range theories from the general study of government, politics, and policy-making. In this way, teaching and research on the EU can be part of the political science mainstream.
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Hix-Hoyland_ThePoliticalSystemOfTheEU_Ch1 - Chapter 1...

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