The European Union

Established in 1951 as a common market for coal and steel among six countries, the European Union today has (for now) 28 member states, an elected parliament, and a common currency used in 19 of those states. It is widely credited for helping to secure postwar peace and prosperity in Western Europe and later in guiding the democratization of Mediterranean and post-communist Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, though, it faces numerous challenges: Brexit, the rise of nationalist and authoritarian political movements, the lingering effects of the financial crisis, relations with Russia, and the conflicts and refugee crises in neighboring regions. In this seminar, we will examine the historical development of the EU to understand how it functions today and how its design contributes to these contemporary challenges.