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Governance and Democracy in the European Union

Governance in the European Union is continuously in flux: powers are transferred from member states to EU institutions while traditional assumptions about the nature and scope of European integration are subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny and public criticism than at any time in its history. As the inter-institutional dynamics of the Union shift in response to the euro crisis, the very legitimacy of the EU is being challenged as never before.
As the EU enters uncharted waters, the European Institute research cluster on Governance and Democracy in the European Union examines the politics, processes, institutions and norms of the European Union as well as the relationship between the EU, its member states and domestic politics. Our research examines how institutional rules, national politics and legislative dynamics are interacting to shape policy outcomes and institutional developments in Brussels and in the member states.
We also address long-standing and unresolved debates on the democratic dimension of European politics and governance. This research includes work on: the public’s perception of and reactions to EU politics; transparency and accountability in EU policy-making; and the responsiveness of EU decision-makers to public opinion. In the context of the euro crisis in Europe and beyond, we look specifically at how the crisis is shaping EU governance, domestic politics and public attitudes towards the Union.

Examples of Key Research Themes

EU institutional Politics and Governance

Crisis Politics in the European Union

Democratic Deficit of the EU

Public Opinion, Elections and Politicization of the EU

Law, Politics and European Courts

The Politics of Europeanisation

Mobility, Migration and Integration

The Role of National Parliaments in the EU

Governance and Democracy in the EU - Highlights



"Informal Governance in the European Union| is a fascinating and important book that takes a fundamentally new approach to informal cooperation in international politics. Mareike Kleine theorizes that informal governance norms serve as a means to provide discretion to states facing unexpected domestic political shocks. She deftly explores how these informal politics play out in the European Union, but the implications of the work extend far beyond the EU to many areas of international politics."
—Mark A. Pollack, Professor of Law and Political Science and Jean Monnet Chair, Temple University


"Does multilevel governance blur political responsibility? In Blaming Europe|? Responsibility without accountability in the European Union, Sara Hobolt and James Tilley argue that citizens form judgments on the basis of information and bias. Using a wealth of evidence they demonstrate how policy-specific information is scarce in the EU, and this deprives Europe of a transparently responsible government. The upshot is a paradox: ambiguity protects the EU from getting punished at the ballot box, but exposes it to eroding trust in EU institutions. This is a truly brilliant book that gets to the heart of EU politics in clear and compelling language and opens up new lines of inquiry concerning political responsibility in multilevel systems."
- Liesbet Hooghe, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Selected Recent Publications

Paul De Grauwe (2011) Managing a Fragile Eurozone, CESifo Forum, 12(2), 40-45

Featherstone, Kevin and Papadimitriou, Dimitris (2013) The emperor has no clothes! Power and resources within the Greek core executive. Governance, 26 (3). 523-545

Hagemann, Sara (2010) Bicameral Politics in the European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol 48 (4), pp. 811-833

Hobolt, Sara and Spoon, Jae-Jae (2012) Motivating the European Voter: parties, issues and campaigns in European Parliament elections. European Journal of Political Research, 51, 6, 701–727

Hobolt, Sara B. (2012) Citizens satisfaction with democracy in the European Union, Journal of Common Market Studies , 50 (1): 88-105.

Kleine, Mareike (2012) Knowing your limits: informal governance and judgment in the EU The review of international organizations, 8 (2). 245-264.

Komarek, Jan (2013) Reasoning with Previous Decisions: Beyond the Doctrine of Precedent. American Journal of Comparative Law 149-171

Komarek, Jan (2012) Playing with Matches: the Czech Constitutional Court Declares a Judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU Ultra Vires. European Constitutional Law Review 8, 323-337

Schelkle, Waltraud (2012) Good governance in crisis or a good crisis for governance?: a comparison of the EU and the US. Review of international political economy, 19 (1). 34-58

Thielemann, Eiko (2012), How Effective are National and EU Policies in the Area of Forced Migration? Refugee Survey Quarterly,21-37

White, Jonathan (2011). Political Allegiance after European Integration. Palgrave Macmillan

White, Jonathan and Lea Ypi (2011) On Partisan Political Justification, American Political Science Review 105 (2), pp.381-396.



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Staff in the European Institute working in this area include:

Doctoral Students

  • Eva Heims
  • Julian Hoerner 
  • Lukas Obholzer
  • Giulia Pastorella
  • Christopher Wratil

Recent Past Doctorates

  • Justyna Andrzejewicz
  • Stijn Billiet
  • Mariana Chaves
  • Emylene Cheney
  • Carlo Chiattelli  
  • Katjana Gattermann
  • Mogens Hobolth
  • Raya Kardasheva
  • Matthias M. Mayer
  • Niclas Meyer
  • Ronan McCrea