The objectives of this course are three-fold:
1. DESCRIPTIVE: The course understands the European Union as an emerging 'political system', where there as an on-going interaction between the processes of government (the operation of the institutional and legal framework), public policy (the adoption and impact of policy decisions and EU legislation), and politics (the interests, ideas, opinions and values of the political actors - e.g. citizens, businesses, regions, government ministers, bureaucrats, party leaders). Against this background the principal aim of the course is to provide a detailed knowledge of how national and EU institutions interact in European policy making. To achieve this the course is divided into two parts. The first will introduce principal theories of policy making along three core policy dimensions: agenda setting, decision making, policy implementation. In the second part the conceptual insights gained will be used to analyse a number of substantive policy areas. These will typically include: the single market, social and environmental policies, cohesion policies, common agricultural policy, economic and monetary union, immigration and asylum policy, energy and climate change policy, and EU foreign policy.
2.THEORETICAL: To understand policy making in these areas with the help of general theoretical models/explanations developed in political science and other disciplines such as economics. This means an attempt to widen the dominant focus on so-called 'history-making' decisions in the course of the European integration process (often analysed through International Relations theories) and complement it with insights from the theoretical literature on comparative public policy and administration in order to better understand the 'day to day' decision-making processes in the EU. Among other things, these theories help us explain: why the Member States have delegated agenda setting power to the European Commission; why informal 'policy networks' can sometimes be as important as formal decision-making rules; why market integration and regulation have proceeded faster than social and environmental protection; or why business interests are more effectively represented than other interests in Europe.
3.ANALYTICAL: Finally, the course hence also aims to develop a critical/analytical approach to some of the key questions facing Europe's citizens and political leaders today. E.g. How should the EU institutions be designed? Should there be more or less EU social and environmental regulation? Is the governance of EMU effective? Would we be better off without the Common Agricultural Policy? To what extent does the EU speak with one voice in its foreign policy?