How to Define the European Union?

  • Christiaan TimmermansEmail author


Academics disagree about how to define the EU as a form of cooperation between sovereign States. The identity of the Union has considerably changed, an evolution characterized by two opposing trends: diminishing ambitions with regard to the ultimate goal, a federal vocation now being explicitly excluded by Article 4(2) TEU; the justiciability of this Article starts to be confirmed by the case law of the ECJ. At the same time, the supranational element has been remarkably reinforced. One of the EU characteristics is its direct and intensive relationship with the citizens of the Member States. A Union of States and Citizens could be a possible definition but remains of only modest informative value. A more precise definition almost impossible, also because of the meandering evolution of the integration process as again illustrated by the EU and Member States’ responses to solve the euro crisis.


Member State National Court European Parliament Maastricht Treaty National Sovereignty 
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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The HagueThe Netherlands

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