What Does the European Union Do?


Alesina, Alberto, Ignazio Angeloni, and Ludger Shuknecht. 2005. “What Does the European Union Do?” Public Choice 123: 275-319.
Article1.01 MB


The goal of this paper is to evaluate the attribution of policy prerogatives to European Union level institutions and compare them to the implications of normative policy models and to the preferences of European citizens. For this purpose we construct a set of indicators to measure the policy-making intensity of the European Union (European Council, Parliament, Commission, Court of Justice, etc.). We confirm that the extent and the intensity of policymaking by the EU have increased sharply over the last 30 years, but at different speeds, and in different degrees, across policy domains. In recent years the areas that have expanded most are quite remote from the EEC’s original mission of establishing a free market zone with common external trade policy. On the contrary some policy domains that would normally be attributed to the highest level of government remain at national level.We argue that the resulting allocation of prerogatives between the EU and member countries is partly inconsistent with normative criteria concerning the assignment of policies at different government levels, as laid out in the theoretical literature.

Last updated on 04/03/2013