The EU’s political, economic and constitutional system

SIEPS tracks and analyses the development of the EU as a political, economic and constitutional system.

Below you will find a selection of our work in this research area. Find more under Publications and Seminars. (For material in both Swedish and English, go to the Swedish web site).

Taking Stock of the EU Institutions in the 2019–2024 Term

The EU’s legislative cycle is approaching its final full year. Ahead of 2023, three SIEPS researchers make an appraisal of what the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council have achieved so far and how well – or not – they worked together to achieve it. (2022:21epa)

The euro is fragile; that’s OK

The EU’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is far from perfect. But it is a unique achievement, and it has weathered all the economic and political storms of its existence so far. It will in all likelihood continue to do so, writes Charles Wyplosz, economist and Emeritus Professor at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, as he assesses proposals to safeguard the future of the euro, and makes some of his own. (2022:13epa)

Making EU Representative Democracy Fit for the Future

Long criticized as deficient, the EU’s democratic system now finds itself threatened – as do national systems – by populism, technocracy, and rival forms of government. The essays in this collection suggest how EU representative democracy could change in order to survive and perform effectively. Contributions by Ben Crum, Valentin Kreilinger, Christopher Lord, Sonja Puntscher Riekmann, and Göran von Sydow. (2022:2op)

The Next Presidency of the Council of the EU: what to expect when Sweden takes over

On 1 January Sweden took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. It shoulders this key institutional and legislative responsibility during a time of war and economic turmoil, with its government having been in office for just two and a half months. But, argue SIEPS researchers Jakob Lewander and Louise Bengtsson, there are good reasons for thinking that Sweden will succeed in the roles of honest broker and effective crisis manager. (2022:19epa)

EU Crisis Management

From the sovereign debt crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has taken a leading role in the management of crises. The essays in this anthology analyse the EU’s performance and suggest how it could improve as a ‘crisis manager’. Contributions by Christian Kreuder-Sonnen, Vivien A. Schmidt, Astrid Séville and Jonathan White. (2022:1op)

New Funds for the EU: the Case for a Market Access Fee

The EU and its Member States face many challenges, from security and migration to innovation and climate change. Some are existential, all require some common effort, and all are expensive to address. Against that background, SIEPS senior advisor Daniel Tarschys examines options for boosting the EU’s finances and makes the case for an EU Market Access Fee. (2022:7epa)

Political accountability in the EU

Political accountability in EU multi-level governance: the glass half-full

Is there sufficient political accountability in the EU’s multilevel governance system? Are the public and their representatives able and willing to have decision-makers answer for their decisions? In this report Professor of Public Policy Yannis Papadopoulos examines the mechanisms of horizontal and vertical accountability vis-à-vis the EU institutions and assesses their effectiveness. (2021:4)

Political accountability is essential for a well-functioning European Union. How is this function exercised, and how can it be improved? These questions were discussed by experts at a webinar on 6 October 2021. Participants: Yannis Papadopoulos, who presented his SIEPS report on the subject, Katrin Auel, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna; Magnus Blomgren, Umeå University; and Deirdre Curtin, European University Institute. Chair: Anna Wetter Ryde, SIEPS.

The rule of law and the case law of the Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is behind a recent enhancement of European constitutionalism, placing the rule of law at the centre stage.  What does this case law entail and what are the implications for the EU and the EU member states? This was discussed at a webinar on 3 December 2021 with Professors Laurent Pech and Dimitry Kochenov.

Respect for the Rule of Law in the Case Law of the European Court of Justice: A Casebook Overview of Key Judgments since the Portuguese Judges Case

In recent years, the European Court of Justice has strengthened the rule of law as a binding value within the EU. This change is the result of several landmark rulings in the period 2018 to 2021, which should be seen in the context of the decline of the rule of law in some Member States. Professors Laurent Pech and Dimitry Kochenov unveil a profound change of the EU as a constitutional system. (2021:3)

The EU and the rule of law

Protecting the rule of law in EU Member States and Candidate Countries

The respect for the rule of law is declining both in EU member states and in countries aspiring to membership. The EU therefore needs to step up its efforts and adopt a more inclusive, coherent, and transparent approach. This argument is developed by Marko Kmezić and Florian Bieber at the University of Graz. (2020:12epa)

Suspension of EU funds for breaches of the rule of law – a dose of tough love needed?

The European Commission has proposed a possibility to suspend financial transfers to Member States with deficiencies as regards the rule of law. In an analysis of the proposal, professors Armin von Bogdandy and Justyna Łacny conclude that it has merits but raises legal doubts. Suspending EU funds could also harm the people they are meant to protect. (2020:7epa)

The EU's economic system

Next Generation EU: Solidarity, Opportunity, and Confidence

In July 2020, the European Council agreed on a plan to help Member States’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement has important implications, writes Professor Erik Jones, but challenges remain. One crucial factor is whether the Member States succeed in managing their recovery and resilience plans. (2021:11epa)

State Interests and Bargaining Power in the Reform of the Eurozone

Following the deep euro crisis, the EU governments agreed on eurozone reforms that constituted a substantial deepening of European integration. In this report, political scientists Lisa Dellmuth, Magnus Lundgren and Jonas Tallberg analyse the dynamics behind the eurozone reform and discuss implications for future policy. (2020:4)

Gender Equality in the European Commission

Gender mainstreaming in the European Commission

The EU is committed to gender mainstreaming across all its policies and activities. When it comes to the European Commission, researchers Lut Mergaert and Rachel Minto argue that there are examples of good practice, but also weaknesses. An important task for the Commission, they write, will be to target the transformation of its own organisation. (2021:8epa)

Women at the Top of the European Commission – Drivers and Barriers

The European Commission is a key institution for EU policy but is only recently approaching gender equality. In this analysis, professors Miriam Hartlapp and Agnes Blome provide an overview of women’s representation at the top positions in the Commission and suggest actions for a better gender balance in the future. (2021:6epa)

Edited volumes

The Lisbon Treaty 10 years on: Success or Failure?

On 1 December 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, aiming at making the EU more democratic, more transparent and more efficient. In this volume, four scholars discuss whether the Treaty has strengthened the EU during the past decade, a period marked by several crises for the European Union. With contributions from Luuk van Middelaar, R. Daniel Kelemen, Anne Thies and Eleanor Spaventa. (2019:2op)

Perspectives on the future of the EU

Several challenges stimulate the debate on the future of the EU: globalisation, security concerns, the rise of populism, the impact of new technologies, Brexit. An underlying question concerns the prospects for legitimacy and democracy. (2019)