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Power in the EU: the supranational thesis

In discussions on the nature of the European Union, two camps usually form. In this and the next step, we take a look at them. Firstly, the supranational thesis.

Supranationalism as a form of political organisation means that decisions are taken beyond the level of national governments. A new scale is added: from municipalities to provinces/regions/counties to the national level now comes a higher level, the supranational. This means that no national representatives are involved in decision-making.

Theorists of supranational governance emphasise the following supranational elements of the European Union:

  1. the EU is a legal entity independent from the member-states; as such, it can enter in international agreements with third parties;
  2. EU institutions make binding decisions in a number of specified policy areas, the EU budget, etc.;
  3. some EU institutions - the Commission, the Court, and the Parliament - represent the European Union as a whole (beyond being a sum of its member states); and
  4. the EU affects domestic policies and politics of its member states.
  5. Some argue that European integration mostly happens at this level. Institutions such as the Commission and the Parliament are said to have a 'European' view: their agenda is not determined by national interests, but rather by what is good for the EU as a whole. Thus, they drive integration forward.

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European Culture and Politics

University of Groningen

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