ASTK15650U SEMINAR: Advanced political economy of the EU

Volume 2015/2016

Elective course in the specialization "International political economy"



The present-day European Union grew out of an economic project, and political economy has always been central to the progression of European integration. However, as the current crisis shows, this has not always been unproblematic. This module therefore takes a comprehensive approach to the role of political economy in the EU – considering the history of the process, the current policies, and the political debates that have characterised its evolution. It also focuses on the institutions responsible for creating the Union’s policies in times of crisis, to enable students to gain systematic insight into the key actors in the EU’s contemporary political economy.

The course is expected to be structured according to the following headings, during the second 7-week block of the semester.  

  • Introduction to the course, crisis and political economy
  • A brief history of economic integration
  • Making economic policies
  • The Common Agricultural Policy
  • Structural and regional funding
  • The single market
  • The ‘snake’ and EMS
  • EMU and the Euro
  • The European Parliament: negotiating the TTIP
  • DG ECFIN: one market, one money
  • The ECOFIN council, Eurogroup, and the SGP abeyance
  • The European Council: negotiating the six pack
  • The ECB: whatever it takes, OMTs
  • Politics or economics? Shaping the EU’s policies (course conclusion)


By the end of the course, students will have a sound knowledge of the various political-economic functions of the European Union, as well as a sense of the history of economic integration and the role various actors have played in it. The course will fit particularly well within a programme featuring other courses on political economy and is designed to complement these courses. It will equip students with a strong basis for understanding the Euro crisis, and for comprehending more broadly how government institutions mediate between different demands. It would therefore prove useful to students hoping to go into a range of careers, particularly those involving public or quasi-public institutions.  

Learning Outcome

The objective of the seminar is to enable students to…

  1. Demonstrate a strong familiarity with key EU policies, and be able to articulate the economic and political trade-offs that underpin them,

  2. Evidence knowledge of the featured institutions’ competencies and the intricacies of the policy making process,

  3. Explain the economic policies of the EU with reference to key debates in International Political Economy,

  4. Be able to apply this general theoretical and empirical understanding to specific case studies.

This course will be largely based around journal articles and weekly reading. However, some indicative reading that will help students prepare includes:

El-Agraa, A. (ed.), The European Union: Economics and Policies (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Baldwin, R. and Wyplosz, C. (2006) The Economics of European Integration, Second Edition (Berkshire: McGraw-Hill Education)

Buonanno, L. and Nugent, N. (2013) Policies and Policy Processes of the European Union (Hampshire: Palgrave)

The course is offered as part of the IPE specialisation, although it is open to all students. Students who have not taken the specialisation’s ‘core’ course (introduction to international political economy) will need to possess or be willing to independently acquire equivalent knowledge, particularly around the key theories of IPE (at a minimum, liberalism, realism/nationalism, and critical theories including Marxism). If you are in any doubt, or need recommendations for preparatory reading, please contact the course leader.
The course features two-hour sessions that partly comprise mini-lectures and seminar activities, and are partly student led. To this end, the assessment will encourage students to build on their knowledge and bring this to class. Assessment will take the form of take home assignments and presentations.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • Course Preparation
  • 70
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Exam Preparation
  • 53
  • Exercises
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 42
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course’s goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner