This course will focus on the European Union (EU), its formation, development and current moment of crisis. Compounding challenges over the past ten years – from the Euro, to the security and migration crises – have called into question the effectiveness and legitimacy of the EU’s institutional structure. Did the architecture of the Union (as an aggregation of previously independent nation states) and the institutional structure that emerged over time (juxtaposing supranational and intergovernmental components) ultimately create a favorable context for the growth of populists and nationalists? After Brexit, must we assume that the intergovernmental component of the European Union begat the rise of sovereignists, i.e. political actors claiming to repatriate national competences from the EU (though no longer claiming to want to leave it altogether)? The 2019 European Parliament elections exposed a cleavage between a Europeanist majority and an anti-EU opposition (a cleavage substituting or crossing the old one between the left and the right) with the sovereignist groups claiming a quarter of the parliamentary seats. This course aims to investigate the content of this emerging and deepening division, as well as its implications for the future of Europe (and transatlantic relations).

The course will use a comparative perspective to assess the European Union’s development and structure. Since the EU is an institutionally anchored construct of previously independent territorial units, the course will examine two other successful cases of unions by aggregation in comparison: the United States (US) and Switzerland (but particularly the former). Such comparison is useful for understanding the nature of the EU, its institutional development but also its constitutional future. 


The course has been designed for graduate students already (or somehow) familiar with International Relations and Comparative Politics.