Chapter 2 Practice essay question

Chapter 2 Question

The institutional arrangement of the EU has seen a considerable number of changes over the decades to cope with the numerous changes imposed on the EU both externally and internally, in particular the cumulative expansions of the EU, to remedy particular issues such as the democratic deficit, efficiency in law making, and for the participation of wider interests and national parliaments.

Please discuss this statement.

Attempt this question before reading the answer guidance below.



Answer guide

There is a lot in this statement and thus it is quite difficult to get a good structure for your answer. You are though assisted considerably by the fact that the question itself signposts a number of directions that can be taken. As with many questions, there is not a single correct answer but a number of possible forms of answer variations using similar material.

A good starting point is to outline what the institutional arrangement was and is – it has expanded from the start with four to now seven principal institutions. Briefly outline these and how and why it has changed. External and internal examples have been given, so it is best to address them but there is no reason not to include others. 

The major institutional change was the inclusion of the European Council, so you need to explain what it is, why it came into being (to provide overall political leadership), and how it affects the overall institutional balance. The addition of the European Central Bank and the Court of Auditors are not so important but should be mentioned.

Institutional change is not just arithmetic though but includes considerable procedural change, discussion of which should constitute the main part of the answer. Principally, you should discuss the steady increase in the powers of the European Parliament, especially in relation to law making. There are also the changes to the law-making process by the Council of Ministers (Qualified Majority Voting - notably). Further changes to include are:

  • the introduction of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in law making and National parliaments in the application of them;
  • the establishment and part played by the Social and Economic Committee and Committee of the Regions;
  • and delegated legislative powers and control of those granted to the Commission.

If you have time, you could also explain how expansion influenced such changes, the increase in the powers and competences of the EU, and the role of the CJEU in that area.

All in all, there is quite a lot to include in a good answer.