PAP-21806 European Union Institutions and Policies


Studiepunten 6.00

Excursion (multiple days)28
Course coordinator(s)dr. JJL Candel
Lecturer(s)dr. J van Leeuwen
dr. MA de Haas
dr. JJL Candel
Examiner(s)dr. JJL Candel

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

None, although having followed courses with a PAP- or ENP-code is an advantage.


Too-big-to-fail banks that are in danger of going bankrupt, thousands of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean on shaky boats, food scandals and pathogen related diseases, vast trade agreements that are being negotiated and simultaneously face strong critiques; for many of today's most pressing crises and challenges, citizens, media, and even national politicians look at the European Union institutions for developing effective solutions. Others, on the contrary, blame the European project for being the main reason why these crises have emerged in the first place. In either case, the European Union has a major influence on setting legal frameworks, particularly also in the life sciences domains. The aim of this course is to make students familiar with the basic principles, legal structures and processes of governance at the EU- level. The course introduces students to the EU's history, its main institutions and legal frameworks, the policymaking process, and the political struggles that take place around a number of issues that are relevant to the life sciences domains.
Although the course is primarily targeted at students of the BSc Economics and Governance and the MSc specialization Food Safety Law, it is accessible to and insightful for students from different backgrounds who are interested in the basic functioning of the EU and its main policies in the 'Wageningen domains'. The first half of the course provides a general background to the EU, including its history, main institutions, decision-making procedures, and implementation pathways. In the second half of the course we will discuss the development of a number of relevant policy domains, including the internal market, marine policy, environmental policy, agricultural policy, and food policy. At the end of the course, students will be able to explain the functioning of the EU's main institutions and policies, to use and analyze official EU documents and legislation, and to critically appraise an ongoing policy debate.
Beside lectures, the course entails an excursion to Brussels, where we will visit some of the EU institutions and stakeholders. In addition, during the whole course students work on a group paper about an ongoing EU policy debate, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, GMOs, TTIP, marine spatial planning, or the supervision of banks. The course ends with an exam that tests the knowledge obtained.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • explain the history and functioning of the main EU institutions and policymaking processes;
  • explain the EU's relevance for the life sciences domains;
  • retrieve and analyze official EU documents and legislation;
  • analyze and appraise an ongoing EU policy debate by using a range of key concepts and theories.


- lectures;
- reading literature;
- analyzing a case and writing a group paper;
- providing feedback on the work of other groups;
- excursion.


Final grading is based on a written exam (50%) and a group paper (50%). For both elements a minimum pass mark of 5.5 is required. The grade for the group paper is valid until and including the academic year following on the year in which it was obtained.



Lelieveldt, H. & S. Princen. (2015). The politics of the European Union, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. + selection of articles and book chapters.

Verplicht voor: BEBEconomics and GovernanceBSc1AF