Year 1 of the programme is spent either at Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic), at the University of Konstanz (Germany) or at University College Dublin (Ireland).

Year 2 is taken by all students together at Utrecht University (the Netherlands).

Utrecht University: Year 2, Semester 1

Regulating markets (compulsory)

​Regulation is one of the main ways (if not: the main way) in which the EU seeks to intervene in markets. By developing and setting regulatory standards, EU policy-makers try to steer the outputs of markets, and the way in which they work, towards certain desired objectives.

Market regulation raises a range of important economic, legal and political-administrative questions:

  • Since regulation intervenes in and tries to steer markets, it is fundamentally related to economic processes. Economic insights are therefore indispensable for analysing the ways in which different forms of regulation work (or do not work).
  • Regulation is, by nature, a legal type of intervention. Even when forms of private (as opposed to public) regulation are used, they are embedded in legal regimes and raise legal questions.
  • Since regulation is a form of governance, and a way to balance different interests, it is a highly political exercise, in which different stakeholders and interests play a role.

In this course, we will study forms of market regulation from an economic, legal and political-administrative angle, with a view to (1) analysing the implications of different regulatory arrangements and (2) developing well-founded solutions to regulatory problems.

You will write three individual assignments, based on cases that are linked to the themes in the course and make an analysis of a regulatory challenge in a storyboard, a format often used by consultants and policy-makers, which organizes information in a series of linked slides.

Labour markets and welfare states in Europe (compulsory)

Taking away barriers to free movement and to competition are main objectives of the European Union (EU). Additionally, the EU has the objective to promote social aims, including the protection against poverty and social exclusion. For this latter purpose, several EU policy instruments exist to counter the internal market’s negative effects. Still, these instruments’ scope is limited, because the EU member states have retained important powers to organise their labour market and their welfare system. The legal and social-economic circumstances in which member states do so, are quite different. In this course, we examine the (relationship between) welfare states and labour markets within this EU context, concentrating on its economic, legal, governance and political aspects.

This course will examine these topics from three angles. First, you will adopt a governance and political science approach to describe the different welfare states regimes in the EU. More particularly, you will analyze the differences and similarities between the different types of welfare state regimes in the EU: the continental regime as typified by for instance Germany; the liberal regime as characterized by the now former EU member state the United Kingdom; the social democratic regime as characterized by for example Sweden; and the Eastern European welfare regime as found in for instance Poland. You will also examine the changes in welfare state arrangements and labour markets over the last decades and what explains these changes.

Next, you will turn to economic theories on the relation between labour markets and welfare state arrangements. Among other things, welfare states have to absorb labour market failures, like unemployment or work accidents. While labour and unemployment systems have to absorb the unemployed from the labour market, they can also cause additional unemployment by creating labour market rigidities like dismissal protection law and employment traps.

The third and final angle is to look at the relevant legal instruments of European governance in the labour market. Questions that will be discussed are among others: Does social legal integration keeps pace with economic legal integration? Is there a common European labour market and, if so, also a rising European welfare state? What are the objectives and competences of the Union in this respect? What does free movement of workers and persons in the European labour market mean for solidarity and access to national welfare state regimes?
In using these three angles we discuss the institutional characteristics of the relationship between welfare state regimes and the (internal) market, and address the different levels (national, EU) and the different actors involved. We pay special attention to the repertoires of intervention/action of different actors - from the EU and national governments to enterprises and NGO's - to deal with tensions on the labour market, and to the social effects that come from market integration, labour migration and demographic changes.

This course will consist of lectures and of working groups. In the latter, you will take the lead to discuss the assigned readings.

In the final paper you will analyze, together with a fellow student, the characteristics and the causes of a problem in the labour market of the EU or (one of) its member states. You will analyze the role, functions and repertoire of the most important actors involved, formulate a motivated direction of change and a policy strategy for the realization of this new situation. In the mark you will get for the paper, the text counts for 90% and the oral presentation of your analysis for 10%.

European Union, by and for the people? (compulsory)

In the American context, the essence of democracy is often eloquently described ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. With regard to European Union governance, the debate as to what extent this phrase holds is ongoing. In addition to the infamous democratic deficit debate, more recently questions have also been raised about the extent European integration actually serves (the needs of) the people. This is remarkable, because building a better and safer world was the very rationale behind the European project from the outset. The early engineers of European integration saw it as a way to ensure peace for the European people and increase their welfare by means of breaking down national economic barriers. Moreover, over time, the EU also gained the image of being a bastion and guardian of human rights, around the world as well as within its own territory. This culminated in the introduction of EU citizenship in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and entry into force of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on 1 December 2009. However, over the past crisis-ridden decade, doubts have risen about the extent to which European integration has indeed served the legal, political and economic needs of its people. Moreover, increasingly this output-dimension of EU integration is seen to impact the legitimacy of, and support for European integration amongst European citizens.

In this course, we will critically examine the consequences of European integration for the daily lives of different groups of European citizens. In doing so, the course will take an interdisciplinary approach and focus on the legal, economic and political effects of European policies as well as how these effects interact. In order to do so, we will discuss the following questions:

  • What problems do different groups in European society face when trying to exercise their citizenship rights?
  • What are the social economic effects of EU policies for different groups of EU citizens?
  • What are the effects of European integration on the possibility of citizens to exercise their political rights and participate in EU decision making?
  • What factors determine peoples’ support for and trust in the European Union?
  • What could the EU do to influence these issues?

Throughout the course, theoretical insights will be linked to current and salient cases that have revealed beyond doubt that European integration has legal, social-economic and political impact on the daily lives of its people; Brexit, the Eurozone, refugee crisis and rule of law crises. Moreover, you will be asked to put the lessons learned into practice in the field work assignment

For the field work assignment, you will identify an actual case in European society of (a group of) citizens facing the legal, social-economic or political consequences of an existing EU policy. You study the details of the relevant policies and document the citizens’ perception of that EU policy and its consequences. You are required to incorporate an interdisciplinary perspective and highlight legal, economic and political dimensions at play in the case using the insights offered during the course (see full instructions on Blackboard). You present your outline and research design and will receive feedback on your plans.

Enforcement in Europe (compulsory)

Issues of enforcement are crucial for any policy. It is in the actual enforcement and application that law and policies gain their definitive shape and it is in this shape that they affect (or do not affect) citizens and organizations in society. Enforcement is therefore crucial both for understanding how law and policies work and for designing institutions, policies and legal norms.

Enforcement is carried out by public actors at various levels of government (such as regulatory and supervisory authorities, the European Commission, national ministries and local governments) and by citizens and firms through courts (‘private enforcement’). In the European Union, we find different combinations of these forms of enforcement in different areas.

The key aim of this course is to understand how these forms work and what kinds of trade-offs are inherent in them.

In doing so, the course will focus on four important themes:

  • The system of enforcement. Central questions here are: Who are the enforcers? How do they work? How is the system of enforcement regulated between the EU and national levels What is the relation between public and private enforcement?
  • Optimal enforcement. Enforcement can never be complete. Although effective enforcement is necessary for effective policies, enforcement is also costly and may have unwanted side-effects. Due to limited capacities and resources, enforcers will always make choices as to which activities to focus on and which activities to ignore. In addition, enforcement requires a choice between different types and levels of sanctions. This raises the question of optimal enforcement: how much and what types of enforcement are best suited to achieve a policy objective?
  • Organizing enforcement practices. Enforcement often does not go according to ‘the book’. Rather, enforcers tend to develop routines and enforcement practices that do not conform to (or may even contradict) officially stated policies and legal norms. Moreover, enforcement in the EU often requires cooperation between (national) enforcement agencies, but this may be difficult to achieve. What is the (organizational and political) logic behind enforcement practices and cooperation between enforcement agencies? And how can one ‘manage’ them?
  • Legal aspects of enforcement. Enforcement is regulated by national and EU legal frameworks. How do these legal frameworks work and how effective and legitimate are they? Enforcers often have far-reaching powers to intervene in the activities of organizations and individual citizens. For that reason, the legal frameworks that regulate enforcement are not only aimed at effective enforcement but also at protecting individuals. The balance between effective enforcement and protection of individuals is determined by the imperatives of the rule of law.

The group will meet twice a week to discuss the literature and cases. At the beginning of the course, each of you will ‘adopt’ an issue area, in a specific field of EU law and policy-making, to which you will apply the theoretical notions and analytical approaches discussed during the course. At the end of the course, you will give a presentation on the issue chosen.

Utrecht University: Year 2, Semester 2

Research internship and master thesis (compulsory)

​This course follows the key elements of the master programme’s philosophy, by (1) focusing on European governance as a phenomenon that involves multiple levels, from the local to the regional, national and European, and by (2) preferably adopting an interdisciplinary approach to issues of European governance, which involves the study of how organisations within this complex, multilevel governance context face and deal with issues that have a European dimension.

During the research internship, you will study an issue of European governance within an organisation that deals or has to cope with that issue. This should result in a thesis that analyses the issue at hand in a way that both conforms to standards of academic research and is valuable for the organisation in which the study was conducted.
The research for the thesis will take place in an organisation that deals with issues of European governance. You will be supervised by one supervisor from Utrecht University and one supervisor from the university at which the first year was taken (Masaryk University, University College Dublin, or the University of Konstanz). The supervisors from Utrecht University will act as a daily supervisor. The other will be involved in assessing the study design and grading the thesis.

During the first semester in Utrecht, you are asked to start matching your individual interest in a research topic with a research organisation from the programme’s database or with a research organisation from your own network.

A senior member from the staff of the internship organisation should supervise you during the internship period. The moment a match has been made between yourself, a research topic and a supervisor within the internship organisation, you have to make arrangements on the practicalities of research internship.
Also during the first semester, you start developing a research question, literature (re)search, and write a research plan that consists both of a thorough literature overview and the design for your empirical research. The research plan should be completed by the end of January.
Most of the second semester will be dedicated to data collection and analysis, writing the thesis and presenting the research.

Further details on the planning of the research internship and the content of the master thesis will be provided at the start of the first semester in Utrecht.

Location of the course: Utrecht School of Governance