The Institutional Framework of the European Union

Contrasting Theory and Practice

Andrea LenschowJuly 17 – July 284 ECTS credits


The course will focus on the unique political system of the European Union. Students will be introduced to the main institutions playing a role in the decision-making process and to some of the main decision-making procedures.

The course very much builds on the active participation of participants. Group work, debates and a simulation exercise form an integral part of the program.

The first part of the course will focus on the Institutional Framework of the EU by examining:

  • The main sources of EU Law and where relevant their repercussions on the institutional framework
  • The role of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Court of Justice of the European Union within the EU’s institutional framework (and where relevant their evolution during the process of European integration)

This section will be based on lectures, class discussions and debates on such critical questions as the quality of democracy in the EU and the rise of Euroscepticism.


The second part will concentrate on policy making within the European system by looking at:

  • Some of the main decision making procedures (with a focus on the ordinary legislative procedure, formerly co-decision)
  • The role of non-institutional actors such as interest groups and NGOs in the EU’s decision making process

This part will close with a simulation of a Council Working Party about an EU regulation (using authentic material), where students will either take on the role of an EU Member State or represent one of the EU institutions.

Requirements: General class participation, group presentation and participation in joint seminars (30%), participation in role play (20%) and a final exam (50%).


It is recommended to take this course in conjunction with Dr. Bernhard Schima’s course: European Union Law.