EU POLITICAL SYSTEMUnitsUnit 1. The EU as a political systemSTEP 3. The EU as political system…that is ‘supranational’

STEP 3. The EU as political system…that is ‘supranational’

In the first step we have qualified the political system of the EU as a ‘supranational’ one. What does this exactly mean?

The adjective supranational is related to the fact that the EU stems from a process of international political integration: namely the consensual transfer of authority by several national states to a supranational body, which will then exercise that authority.

The process of ‘European Integration’ has formally started in the early 1950’ with the creation of the European Community of Coal and Steel (CECA), the  European Economic Community (EEC) and EURATOM. The EU was formally created only in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty.

If you want to learn more about the history of European integration, you can enroll in the course "History of European Integration, 1945 – 1992"

To put it differently, while the Member States remain all sovereign and independent, they have pooled some of their ‘sovereignty’ and authority in certain areas. This means that, in these areas, they delegate some of their decision-making powers to the EU who can therefore act in those sectors. By contrast, in all those areas/specific matters where Member States decided not to delegate their power, they continue to retain their authority. For example, the Member States delegated full powers to the EU in the domain of trade, agriculture and common currency but decided to maintain their control over foreign and security policy or over fiscal policies.

To have a better sense of this process of authority transfer, have a look at this very short video that provides a graphic representation in this sense.