Less Than a state, more than an international organization: The Sui generis nature of the European Union
In this paper, I show that the European Union (EU) is less than a state, but more than an international organization. Although it possesses some characteristics of both, the European Union is, I argue, a sui generis project: Although the EU wields extensive influence in some policy areas (such as competition policy or international trade regulation), its institutions’ powers are quite limited in many areas that remain firmly within the grasp of its Member States’ governments (such as security, justice, tax or redistribution policies). The European Union’s supranational elements – especially the EU laws’ supremacy over the laws of individual Member States – distinguish it, furthermore, from international organizations, such as the United Nations or the World Trade Organization. I conclude that the European Union is really a sui generis project that has not been attempted anywhere else: As such, it could be regarded as a useful case study, or perhaps even a “pilot project,” for regional integration projects elsewhere.
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