The European Union Today

Institut Catholique de Paris

Course Description

  • Course Name

    The European Union Today

  • Host University

    Institut Catholique de Paris

  • Location

    Paris, France

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    The objective of this course is to give students grounding in the European Union institutional structures and to acquaint them with the various political, economic and social aspects of the EU as well as its external relations.
    Through this course, students will gain a critical insight into the internal functioning of the EU along with the contradictions and the challenges that the EU has to face today such as the UK leaving the Union and the rise of populism. 
    Students will learn how Europe interacts with countries in its neighborhood (Russia, Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa) and its ability to deal with the challenges linked to events in these areas. The course includes a look into policies directed towards the Global South through EU development policy. They will also study relations between the EU and the two major powers - the USA and China. 

    Students are expected to read the relevant course materials for each class and to follow events in the news concerning the European Union and its external relations as active participation in class discussions is an essential requirement of the course. 
    Students have to complete the given assignments: 

    • comment and personal assessment of the week’s topic based on the reading of the core texts. 
    • a 10-minute presentation in class on a topic related to the European Union and based on personal research. Students are free to choose the topic for the presentation within the scope of the course.
    • a term paper (7 - 9 type written pages in Times Roman or equivalent font with double spacing).  The topics for this paper will be distributed in class. Students are expected to research the topic and present a critical assessment and analysis with concrete references. A detailed bibliography of at least three additional sources to those used in class should be included. 

    The majority of texts will be handed out in class and will consist of fact sheets and articles taken from newspapers, magazines, specialized reviews and appropriate websites. Audiovisual documents will also be used. 
    Recommended reading: 
    The European Union: A Very Short Introduction, Pinder, John & Usherwood, Simon, 2013, Oxford University Press 
    Understanding the European Union, McCormick, John, 2017, Palgrave Macmillan, 7th edition

    4/ Other references
    The British media, particularly the Economist and the BBC, have good coverage of news concerning the EU as does the  International New York Times. A number of European newspapers and radio/television channels have English-versions of news on their web sites. 
    The EU has its own website ( as do each of its individual institutions. 

    5/ EVALUATION:  The final grade for the course will be based on student performance on the following tasks: 
    Test on EU history, institutions and main policy areas (25%); A written term paper (25%); 
    A presentation (25%); Attendance/Participation (25%) 
    Students are required to be present for tests and to hand in their papers at the scheduled time. 
    Late papers are penalized. 

    6/ Attendance Policy
    Attendance is essential and checked on a daily basis. Only three unjustified absences will be accepted and all ‘justified’ absences must be documented. The final evaluation will take both absences and repeated unpunctuality (three ‘lates’ count as one absence) into account. Students who are late (i.e. who show up during or after attendance is being checked) should see the instructor after class so that they are marked as present.

    1. The historical context in the world and in Europe 
    The major treaties and the waves of enlargement
    Approaches to the European Union
    2. The main EU institutions: the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Council, the European Parliament and the Courts of the European Union 
    3. Decision-making and legislation in the EU
    The Single Market – the four freedoms
    Economic and Monetary Union 
    4. The Common Foreign and Security Policy 
    The role and influence of the "big" member-states: Germany and France
    The European Union, The United Kingdom and Brexit
    5. In-class test.
    Brexit continued
    6. Europeanism: values and identity
    Europe's democracy dilemma in Eastern Europe 
    Politics and the rise of far-right parties
    Student presentations
    7. Schengen Agreement and Migration
    The situation of minorities and refugees in the EU
    The threat of terrorism in Europe 
    Student presentations
    8. European Neighborhood Policy
    The EU Eastern Partnership and relations with Russia
    Relations with Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa 
    Student presentations
    9. Europe and the Global South
    The EU and the Association of  African, Caribbean and Pacific states
    Student presentations
    10. Relations between Europe and the United States 
    Relations between the European Union and China
    Student presentations
    11. Can the EU exist as a single actor in a multipolar world?
    What future for the EU?
    Term Papers due

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.


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