STEP 1 Overview
In this unit, you will learn what a political system is and why the European Union (EU) can be considered as a supranational political system. One of the most common themes in the study of the EU consists in addressing the question of what the EU is and whether it is something unique or not. To put it briefly, is the EU an N of 1, i.e. an actor with peculiar features that are unique around the world? Or, rather, has the EU certain characteristics that are similar to other actors and that therefore make the EU comparable to states or international organizations?
Before answering these questions, watch this short video and get a preliminary idea on what the EU is.
As shown in the video, the EU is defined as a union made up of 28 Member States.
The EU has expanded several times throughout its history, by the way of ‘enlargement processes’, i.e. the accession of new member states to the Union. By joining the EU club in 2013, Croatia is the youngest member state.
It is a unique partnership covering most of the European continent. In this sense, the EU is an experiment of regional integration that has no equal around the world. If you think of other examples of regional groupings, such as the African Union (AU) or the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), none of them is remotely comparable to the EU in terms of political and economic cooperation or degree of integration.
To get an immediate idea of what we are saying, have a look at this brief chart comparing the EU and ASEAN. What do you notice?