Course Description

Course Name

Economics and Politics of the EU

Session: VSVS1121

Hours & Credits

45 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course objective: To the common visitor, Europe is an inviting region for tourism, splendid museums and age-old monuments plus great restaurants. This course will introduce students to a different side of Europe: one that encompasses its tragic and contentious history; defined by 2.000 years of bloodshed, war and genocide that culminated in two of the most devastating wars that humanity has ever seen. We will examine how Europe rose up from the ashes of war to build a highly emulated political structure, along with the origins of the European Single Market and the single-currency monetary system (the euro). We will examine the Brexit endgame (due last Spring), and also focus on the current migration and political crisis of the EU, and its new political dynamics, defined by the rise of anti-EU populist parties across the continent.

Learning outcomes:

- Absorb the basics of European history, plus the history of the European integration process.

- Know the basics of the EU institutions and of European political dynamics, to be in a position to discuss the present-day crisis of the European project.

- Critically analyse advantages and disadvantages of EU membership: the pros and cons of Brexit.

- Understand European economic integration, and the workings of its main achievements –the Single Market and the Euro-- and to what extent both have design flaws that pose challenges to their very integrity and existence.

- Grasp the basic economic and political issues involved in the so called Brexit process, which should be reaching an outcome this Spring.

- Identify the main challenges the EU faces in terms of identity and cohesion, the current prospects for further economic and political union, plus a common foreign policy and (most relevant) a common immigration policy.

Course contents:


Unit 1: Why a European Union? History, Culture and Identity in Europe. Rationale for the European project. The rise of Europe from the ashes of WWII. The European Heritage as basis of a common identity. Historical antecedents of a united Europe. The intelectual antecedents of the European ideal. The European ethos. Europe’s complexity and diversity. Who are the Europeans? A quick survey of Europe’s 28 member countries. The fathers of Europe: Winston Churchill, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer.

Unit 2: The European Institutions. The European construction process: from the Schuman Declaration and the Treaty of Rome to the Maastricht Treaty and beyond. The three pillars of the EU. Timeline: History of European integration and enlargements. Who makes the decisions? The Commission, the Council and the European Parliament.

Unit 3: Enlargement and accession policy. History of the successive enlargements and assesment of their impact.


Unit 4: Economic integration I. The Single Market and Brexit. From the Common Market to the Single Market: we analyse the “four freedoms” (goods, services, capital and people) and the depths of economic integration which the Single Market entails. We take a look at Brexit and the dilemmas it creates for Europe’s second largest economy: can Britain retain access to the Single Market without giving up the Brexit referendum requirement to stop European free movement of people (immigration)?

Unit 5: Economic integration II: The euro. The euro. EMU (Economic and Monetary Union). A detailed analysis of the introduction, impact and workings of the euro. The European Central Bank and monetary policy. The debt and banking crisis in the eurozone: its causes and dynamics. The European project at crossroads: can the euro survive?

Unit 6: Economic integration III: The European Social Model. Employment and social policy. The Social Charter and the Union’s social legislation. The European workplace and labour markets: the anglo-saxon and continental models. Europe’s Social Model in a globalized economy.


Unit 7: Justice and Home Affairs: Immigration policy. The Schengen Agreements: judicial, police and customs cooperation. Asylum and immigration policy: the challenge of a multicultural society. The European refugee crisis from 2015 to the present.

Unit 8: The political dynamics of Europe: The populist and nationalist tide threatening the EU. The political dynamics of a Europe in crisis: a) the Eurozone conundrum: Northern creditor nations versus Southern debtor nations; b) nationalist/populist anti-immigration Eastern States (Hungary, Poland) + Italy versus

integrationists and pro open-Europe states; and c) the way forward: Fiscal and Political Union. Are Europeans ready for a United States of Europe?

Required readings: Course dossier (a collection of reading materials compiled by your lecturer).

Complementary bibliography:

- Tony Judt, Postwar. A History of Europe since 1945, Penguin Press, 2005.

- Simon Mercado, Richard Welford and Kate Prescott. European Business. Fourth Edition by Pearson Education Limited (Finantial Times, Prentice Hall), 2001. Harlow, England (U.K.).

- Jeremy Rifkin, The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004.

- Enrique Barón, Europa: Pasión y Razón, Biblioteca Nueva, S.L. 2005.

- Ulrick Beck and Edgar Grande, Cosmopolitan Europe, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2007.

- Jorge Semprún, Pensar en Europa, Tusquets, Barcelona, 2006.

- Zygmunt Bauman, Europe: an Unfinished Adventure, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2004.

Course Evaluation:

20% Tasks and attendance

40% Final exam

30% Projects

10% Subjective evaluation (students are expected to come prepared to class and professor will value that students are showing a mark of improvement)

Spanish Grading Scale:

Matrícula de Honor 10 Sobresaliente 9 – 9,9 Notable 7 – 8,9 Aprobado 5 – 6,9 Suspenso 0 – 4,9 No Asistencia (Student has exceeded the allowed number of unexcused absences)

Please find as a reference the following grading scale conversion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student’s home university or institution to determine the final grade equivalencies.

Matrícula de Honor = A+ Suspenso = F Sobresaliente = A No presentado = Incomplete (attended Notable = B classes but did not take final exam) Aprobado =C No Asistencia = Incomplete (enrolled in the course but did not attend class)

Class Attendance: class attendance is compulsory and attendance is taken at each class meeting and is reflected on the attendance sheet that is sent to the home university.

An 85% attendance rate is required for the successful completion of the course. Perfect attendance will be considered positively


*Course content subject to change