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Less Than a state, more than an international organization: The Sui generis nature of the European Union


  • Hlavac, Marek


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hlavac, Marek, 2010. "Less Than a state, more than an international organization: The Sui generis nature of the European Union," MPRA Paper 27179, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27179

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Sascha O. & Egger, Peter H. & von Ehrlich, Maximilian, 2010. "Going NUTS: The effect of EU Structural Funds on regional performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 578-590, October.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:01:p:29-43_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. George Tsebelis & Geoffrey Garrett, 2000. "Legislative Politics in the European Union," European Union Politics, , vol. 1(1), pages 9-36, February.
    4. Andrew Moravcsik, 2002. "Reassessing Legitimacy in the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 603-624, November.
    5. Garhy Hufabeur & Costantino Poschedda, 2007. "After Doha: Evolution or Revolution in the World Trading System?," Information Bulletins 1101, Western Centre for Economic Research.
    6. Hufbauer, Gary & Pischedda, Costantino, 2007. "After Doha: Evolution or Revolution in the Trading System?," Commissioned Papers 7308, Canadian Agricultural Trade Policy Research Network.
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    More about this item


    European Union; regional integration; international organization; multilevel governance; security policy; tax policy; redistribution policy; European Union law; supranational institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations

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