Politicization in the EU Arena
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleMAN-MPOL051
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryMA (Master)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Nijmegen School of Management; Master Political Science;
dr. R.A. van der Veer
Other course modules lecturer
dr. R.A. van der Veer
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. R.A. van der Veer
Other course modules lecturer
dr. R.A. van der Veer
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
1-2  (04/09/2023 to 28/01/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
Upon completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Explain and evaluate the different academic understandings of politicization and depoliticization in the EU context;
  • Explain, apply and evaluate different causes, consequences, theories and related concepts of politicization in the EU;
  • Critically assess the way politicization operates in the EU, including how it shapes and is shaped by the behaviour of different actors active in the EU arena, as well as differences therein across policy areas;
  • Analyse and evaluate a politicization-related issue in a specific area of EU politics, and formulate a normative position on this issue in the form of a convincing opinion piece.
Since its founding, the European Union (EU) has yielded gradual social, political and economic liberalization, brought about by unparalleled transfers of authority from national to EU institutions. As the rise of this supranational authority began constraining and interfering in national political processes, decisions of EU institutions began increasingly affecting EU societies directly. The EU became increasingly visible to political actors outside of the ‘Brussels bubble’, such as citizens and national political parties. Views on the EU gradually polarized, and the expanding set of actors also became increasingly willing to act on these polarized opinions towards the EU – not least by voicing opinions in a series of EU-related referenda.

Today the contestation of the EU as a legitimate polity has become part of a key cleavage structuring the domestic politics of EU member states. In addition, the EU itself, including its institutions, have become more ‘political’ than ever before. This process of EU politicization, including its causes and consequences, is what this course is all about.

This course takes as a starting point the tension between complex societal challenges that require cross-border solutions, and the increased politicization of European integration. We seek to understand the causes of politicization and its manifestations, and the mechanisms through which it affects the legitimacy and effectiveness of political and administrative integration as well as policy development.

This course:
  • Sets off exploring the notion of depoliticization, and how this constituted a key design feature of the EU in its early decades. From this point of departure we dive into the different understandings of what EU politicization entails.
  • Explores the causes and vectors (or ‘carriers’) of EU politicization. We will look into the different crises that have plunged the EU into its broader legitimacy crisis, and take a closer look at how European integration has impinged on political identities, most notably how it has shaped public opinion and party competition at the national and European level.
  • Analyzes the differentiated consequences that this politicization has had for the EU polity at large, as well as individual actors within the EU governance system. Has politicization yielded more or less integration? How have EU actors adapted to this new context, and to what extent have they contributed to it? We will also explore how increased EU politicization affects EU decision-making processes through increased policy responsiveness, and how the impact of politicization varies across different EU institutions.
  • Will focus on the way politicization manifests itself in specific policy areas. By looking at context-specific manifestations of EU politicization, we can disentangle the (at times) complex combination of policy contestation and polity contestation that characterizes EU politicization. We will look into a number of policy areas in more detail, including Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the protection of democracy and rule of law within EU member states, and foreign policy.
  • Attempts to understand EU politicization in normative terms. What are the normative prospects of politicization for the EU? Will it help democratize the Union, or will it only increase its extant legitimacy challenges?

Presumed foreknowledge
It is strongly recommended for students to have taken at least one course on EU politics and/or EU governance at BA level prior to taking this course. This course starts from the premise that students are have prior knowledge of the basic structure of the EU, the EU policy cycle, and the main actors involved in the EU political system.
Test information
Examination for this course consists of an individual assignment (written, 40%) and open-book exam (60%). Partial results do not remain valid.
Prerequisites: one EU course at bachelor level required, EU Executive Order mandatory for students in the EUPG/EUGP specialization.
Ma 1

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Preparation of meetings
Students are required to have read the assigned readings for each seminar and are expected to participate actively in class discussions.

Test weight60
Test typeDigital exam with ANS
OpportunitiesBlock 2, Block 3

Individual assignment
Test weight40
OpportunitiesBlock 2, Block 3