The Political System of the European Union

Neill Nugent and William Paterson

in Governing Europe

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780199250158
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599439 | DOI:
 The Political System of the European Union

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An examination is made of the political system of the European Union (EU), which seeks to highlight its key features. One of these underpins much of the explanation and analysis of the chapter: that the European Union is at the centre of what is becoming a European system of governance, in which different levels of government are increasingly interpenetrated and in which boundaries between the EU and its member states are becoming eroded. The chapter begins with an analysis of the nature of EU policy activity, and this is followed by an examination of EU decision making, focused particularly around the question of who governs. Next, there is an analysis of the nature of the EU as a political system, with particular consideration given to the extent to which it displays the characteristics of a state on the one hand and features of new governance on the other. There is then an examination of an issue that concerns all political systems and which has become increasingly debated in EU circles – the nature of the EU’s legitimacy.

Keywords: decision making; erosion of member states; European system of governance; European Union; governance; legitimacy; policy activity; political system

Chapter.  9084 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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