• Pompeu Fabra logo

Why the European Union? A Brief History of European Integration

Learn about how and why the nations of the European Union (EU) cooperate in this free online course.

11,317 enrolled on this course

The European Union (EU) flag
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

What is the European Union for?

On-going European crises have led to a state of confusion about the politics and purpose of the European Union (EU). Many EU citizens have discovered that what they believed the EU was for does not match what EU institutions are actually doing.

The lack of proper knowledge about the origins, evolving nature and purpose of European integration is, to a large extent, responsible for many present-day EU problems. This course will help answer many common questions about the EU by:

  • exploring the history of the EU
  • explaining how the set of institutions that form the EU emerged
  • examining how the purpose of European integration has changed since the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community.

How did the European Union come about and where is it going?

European integration as we know it is the result of a historical process which is not straightforward and often not rational or logical. The European Union — or the Eurozone — was not based on a specific economic rationale or political theory, but is the result of many governments’ actions in the face of diverse situations. This course will teach you how to analyse the complexity of the current European Union and explore what it could look like in the future.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Have you ever asked yourself why the European Union? Why does the European Union exist? Where does it come from? Why a European but not an American or Asian Union? If you have asked yourself why the Europeans co-operate the strange way they do but found no adequate answer, this is a Massive Online Open Course designed just for you. and for all those having difficulties when dealing with the European Union. I’ve now been president for a five and a half years and I’ve learnt a thing or two about the European Union, the European Comission, the European Council… sometimes I get them mixed up, but… Welcome to the club. I do recognize the difficulties Mr. Obama and Mr.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second Cameron encounter: the institutions, policies purposes and policy limitations of the European Union have no parallel and can only be explained and properly understood from a historical perspective. This is what this course aims to do for you.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds During six weeks we will analyse where the European Union comes from and what the European Union does. We will argue that European integration is contingent to specific historical circumstances; that European integration has served the purpose of enhancing some common or shared values; that integration has been a safe way to regulate globalisation from Europe according to the European perceived interests; and finally, that the history of Germany and the history of European integration run in parallel as the two sides of the same coin. In fact in order to analyze the role to be played by Germany in any European future you need to properly understand how could Germany go from here to here in just 70 years.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 seconds This is Fernando Guirao, Jean Monnet Professor of History at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. I hope to lead you in this fascinating trip. I am sure, you will enjoy the ride! Thank you for your attention, and cheers!

What topics will you cover?

  • The definition of the European Union
  • The impact of World War II on Europe
  • The role of Germany in postwar Europe
  • Enhancing values in the European Union
  • The European Union in the face of Globalisation
  • The limits of the European Union

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify what the European Union does for its members
  • Assess the role of Germany in the European Union, historically and today
  • Discuss the debate between liberalisation and protection in the European Union
  • Evaluate the role of the European Union in an increasingly globalised world
  • Describe the benefits and costs of a single currency

Who is the course for?

Who will you learn with?

PhD in History and Civilisation (1993), European University Institute, Florence. Member of the EU Liaison Committee of Historians and the Journal of European Integration History Editorial Board.

Oriol Garcés, Entrepreneur and international Consulting for SMEs.
Part time lecturer at Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universitat de Barcelona. + 15 years international experience.

Who developed the course?

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) is a public, international and research-intensive university in Barcelona. In just 25 years, it has earned a place for itself among the best universities in Europe.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLwhyeu to talk about this course on social media.