Not available in 2020/21
EU439      Half Unit
Political and Fiscal Integration and Disintegration in EU Member States

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Joan Costa-Font


This course is available on the MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Science and Political Economy and MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

With the expansion of processes of economic integration and disintegration  in the European Union the traditional economic role of the state requires redefinition. Monolithic states progressively become more flexible structures to respond to constituents demands. This is especially the case of those policy areas that are highly relevant for European citizens such as language, culture and welfare. This course draws upon new political economy and social economics theories to study the design of formal and informal institutions in European Union member states and the European Union as a whole. Given that the European Union is progressively evolving towards some unique form of federalism, the course discusses how theories of political and fiscal federalism, constitutional political economy as well as new social economics can help to understand and inform the process. The course covers the design of both fiscal and political decentralisation process with a European perspective, and particularly it examines inter-jurisdictional competition between different levels of government and its role in giving rise to ‘institutional convergence’ with European Union member states.  It covers the constitutional design of the European Union and the effects of European integration on the design of the welfare state. Finally, it examines the economics design of informal institutions including the economics of 'language', 'culture', 'ideas', and finally 'identity', to study the presence of ‘cultural; convergence in the European Union.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Two essays of up to 1,500 words each

Indicative reading

Albert Breton (1996) Competitive Governments. An Economic Theory of Politics and Public Finance, New York: Cambridge University Press). Alesina, Alberto, Guido Tabellini, and Francesco Trebbi. "Is Europe an optimal political area?." Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (2017): 169-214.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2019/20: 18

Average class size 2019/20: 9

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills