Introduction

European integration has proved to be a difficult issue for governments in many countries. Political leaders make deals, but in some member states the public seems markedly unenthusiastic. As Geddes1 explains, ‘the intensity of elite level debates about European integration within the political parties and in Parliament has not been matched by a similar fascination about European integration and its implications amongst the general public’. Many voters claim not to know about, not to understand and not to trust the EU and its workings. In Britain and some other countries, there is a high degree of scepticism about what is being done on their behalf.

Common policies have resulted in a situation in which important powers have been transferred from member states to Brussels. Individual citizens are therefore much influenced by the decisions made by EU machinery. But their opportunities to influence the making of those decisions are limited. Integration has developed more effectively than has the process of making the Union accountable to its citizens. The Commission is not accountable, the Council of Ministers meets behind closed doors and only Parliament is elected – but as we have seen in Chapter 5, it has traditionally lacked teeth.

In this section we explore the opportunities for groups and individuals to make known their views about the way in which the Union is evolving. How are they enabled to participate in its political life and have direct or indirect links with those who make decisions?

There are four main channels through which the peoples of Europe can influence the policies pursued by those who have the power to make decisions: via elections, referendums, political parties and pressure groups.

-129-

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The European Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Boxes vii
  • Tables viii
  • Maps ix
  • Introduction x
  • Background Information xv
  • Section One- History 1
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1 - The Drive for European Unity to 1973 5
  • Chapter 2 - From Community to Union, 1973–93 30
  • Chapter 3 - Consolidating the European Union, 1993 To the Present Day 49
  • Chapter 4 - The Movement to Integration- A Theoretical Perspective 61
  • Section Two- Institutions 73
  • Introduction 75
  • Chapter 5 - Institutions of the European Union 76
  • Chapter 6 - Policy-Making and Law-Making Processes 97
  • Chapter 7 - Democracy and the European Union 115
  • Section Three- Representation 127
  • Introduction 129
  • Chapter 8 - Elections to the European Parliament 130
  • Chapter 9 - Political Parties and the European Union 152
  • Chapter 10 - Pressure Groups and the European Union 171
  • Section Four- Policies 189
  • Introduction 191
  • Chapter 11 - The Union Budget 196
  • Chapter 12 - First-Pillar Policies 204
  • Chapter 13 - Second- And Third-Pillar Policies 230
  • Section Five- Attitudes 239
  • Introduction 241
  • Chapter 14 - Member States 250
  • Chapter 15 - Britain and Europe- A Case Study 266
  • Conclusion- the State of the Union, Past and Present 277
  • References 294
  • Further Reading 303
  • Index 307
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