University of Twente Student Theses


Federalism in the European Union

Dohmen, Christina (2019) Federalism in the European Union.

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Abstract:The European Union is a unique institution, combining both intergovernmental and supranational features. Since its foundation, it has become increasingly integrated, leading to the question of how much alike has it become to a state already? The paper answers the question to what extent the European Union can be compared to a federal state. In order to answer the question, criteria have been developed based on theories of federalism. The criteria will then be applied to the European Union. Additionally, the criteria will be tested on Australia, Argentina and Canada, which are all federal states. This serves the purpose of providing a real-world reference in order to ensure that the European Union is not held to unrealistically high standards imposed on it by the theory. Half of the criteria match equally well to the European Union as to the federal states that have been used as reference. Especially in matters of structure or institutional setup, the Union could meet the criteria. However, in concerns of high sensitivity such as foreign policy, borders and citizenship do still belong to the competences of the European Member States, whereas in federal states, the central government has the authority. The European Union also does not fully meet the criteria related to language, religion and a sense of national identity. Notwithstanding, it should be noted that Argentina, Australia and Canada also not necessarily fulfill all those criteria. The European Union can compare to a federal state in structural and institutional shape as well as in more normative criteria such as national identity to some extent. On the other hand, it lacks key features of a federal state in sensitive matters and high politics. The Union cannot qualify as a federal state, but it cannot be denied that the Union shares some similar key features with a federal state.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration, 89 political science
Programme:European Studies MSc (69303)
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