Politics and Institutions




EU Foreign Policy, Justice and Home Affairs, Politics and Institutions
January 2010 - December 2013


Politics and Institutions


The Politics & Institutions unit is engaged in a number of research activities revolving around the main institutional and political challenges facing the EU, such as the new economic governance, renewed concerns about democratic legitimacy, increasing public discontent, the elections to the new European Parliament and the new European Commission. Some of these activities are carried out in the framework of the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN), which brings together 41 think tanks and research centres from all over Europe to analyse current EU affairs and stimulate the debate on the future of Europe, mainly through conferences, workshops and joint publications.





Following the European elections in May 2014, the EU institutions will have to rise to the dual challenge of delivering better results in a more democratic way and reconciling increased differentiation with the need for a closer Union. The CEPS High-level Group on EU Institutional Reform engaged in an intensive examination of the main inter- and intra-institutional weaknesses in the three phases of EU decision-making (namely, initiation, adoption and implementation), with a view to identifying those institutional changes that – without necessitating treaty reform – would contribute to this goal. Their main conclusions and recommendations were collected in the report Shifting EU Institutional Reform into High Gear.

Members of CEPS HLG on EU institutional reform: Danuta Hübner MEP (Chair), Th.J.A.M. de Bruijn, John Bruton, Daniel Gros, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Karel Lannoo, Eva Lichtenberger MEP, Stefano Micossi, Paolo Ponzano, Rene Repasi, Philippe de Schoutheete and Gunther Verheugen.



This project aims to answer the fundamental question of whether a fully-fledged and well-functioning EMU can be reconciled with expectations of the system also being democratically legitimate. The study will also reflect on how to underpin the role of the EP in EU economic governance.



Every six months, the Politics & Institutions unit publishes an assessment of the concluding rotating Presidency of the Council. Two commentaries have already been released in relation to the current Trio Presidency made up of Ireland, Lithuania and Greece.

Ireland gets the new Trio Presidency off to a propitious start
Exceeding expectations, Lithuania moves the Trio presidency forward
Rounding out a satisfactory Trio Presidency: Greece sets the stage for its Italian successor




The unit actively contributes to the current debate on the role of national parliaments in the EU.  Oral and written contributions on the topic were provided to the Houses of the Oireachtas and the House of Lords recently. The unit has also published an essay underlining the main arguments in the discussions EU Democratic Legitimacy and National Parliaments. This year, it also participated in the annual Brussels Think Tank Dialogue with the discussion paper “Legitimising EU Policymaking: What Role for National Parliaments?




The post-election political landscape in Europe

In the aftermath of the elections to the European Parliament, EPIN has engaged in a project analyzing the impact of the elections on EU politics and institutions as well as on the political landscape across member states. The project has been set off with the launch of a series of commentaries and will culminate in a joint publication with contributions from a range of EPIN experts.

EPIN Paper No. 41: Advances in EU Gender Equality: Missing the mark? by V. Renman and C. Conroy

EPIN Commentary No. 21: Reshaping politics of the left and centre in Greece after the 2014 EP election by F. Chatzistavrou and S. Michalaki
EPIN Commentary No. 20: Political crossroads ahead in Sweden: The signs are red-green by Vilde Renman (CEPS)
EPIN Commentary No. 19: Euroscepticism vs. Political Pragmatism: The Finns Party tones down its criticism of the EU by Tuomas Iso-Markku (FIIA)


The 2014 European Parliament Elections

In the framework of EPIN, the unit has launched a project on the 2014 elections to the EP with the goal to engage all the network members across the EU on a thorough examination of the upcoming elections. Two events have been held in Warsaw (25 November 2013) and Helsinki (31 January 2014) on the topic and a number of EPIN Commentaries and Papers are being released.

EPIN Paper No. 39: Between Apathy and Anger: Challenges to the Union from the 2014 Elections to the European Parliament by S. Piedrafita and A. Lauenroth (eds.), with contributions from A. Primatarova, T. Iso-Markku, S. Bendjaballah, A. Lauenroth, F. Chatzistavrou, S. Michalaki, E. Poli, N. Goet, A. Groen, A. Łada, A. Nicolescu, S. Llaudes, I. Molina and V. Renman.

EPIN Paper No. 37: The 'Personalisation' of the European Elections: A half-hearted attempt to increase turnout and democratic legitimacy? by Sonia Piedrafita and Vilde Renman.

Intereconomics Forum Euroscepticism in the Next European Parliament: A Reason to Worry? by Sonia Piedrafita and Vilde Renman. 

EPIN Commentary N. 14: Not Making the Lists: The Underrepresentation of Women in EU Politics and Business by Vilde Renman.

EPIN Commentary No. 12: Elections to the European Parliament and the trouble with Vox Populi by Sonia Piedrafita


The British Balance of Competences Reviews

On the basis of the ongoing exercise by the British government to review EU competences, this project aims to assess the preparedness of member states to engage in this exercise as well as discuss the EU's possible reform agenda.

EPIN Paper No. 38 Cameron’s reality check on Europe by Michael Emerson. 

EPIN Paper No. 35 British Balance of Competence Reviews, Part I: ‘Competences about right, so far’ by Michael Emerson and Steven Blockmans.