Economic and Legal Integration of Europe

This is part of our campus spotlight on the University of Amsterdam.


Description of the Course

The course “Economic and Legal Integration in Europe” provides an introduction to the economic and legal thinking which underlies the creation of the EU. The course also introduces the fields of Law and Economics as scientific disciplines. It builds on the knowledge of the general overview course titled “European Integration” that precedes it. This course is different from a general European Integration course in the sense that it focuses on the economic and legal aspects of integration, rather than the political-historical motives for integration. The course serves as an introduction to the Major European Economics and the Major European Law, two of the majors in our BA program that are on offer in the second year (the other Majors are: European Culture, European History and East European Studies).

During the course the student develops a general understanding of the historical and institutional aspects of the economic and legal unification of Europe. The student learns to identify the economic and legal logic behind the main institutional developments in the history of European integration.


Course Contents

From its inception, European integration has heavily relied on economic cooperation and legal collaboration. This course revisits important milestones in the history of European integration to study how at every stage new forms of economic cooperation have been established and how the legal basis of the EU has been extended. How has the integration of Europe taken shape in economic terms, and what legal arrangements have been put in place? During the course we will especially look at the historical backgrounds the various milestones and the specific economic and legal institutional arrangements they gave rise to. What were the main considerations for market integration and the establishing of a common currency in Europe? What legal requirements were needed to guarantee their proper functioning? And how did it affect the way the EU is functioning? By studying a number of primary sources (such as white papers, treaties and legal cases and judgements) it aims to examine how European integration was made economically and legally. The course moreover introduces students to a number of basic theoretical concepts from the field of economics and law for studying the economic and legal integration of Europe.


Key objectives

The course has the following stated learning outcomes:

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand key concepts and reasoning of European economics and European law;
  • Apply key concepts and reasoning from European economics and European law to cases and episodes in European integration;
  • Explain the economic and legal backgrounds of significant developments of European integration;
  • Explain the connection between the two disciplines on the basis of essential texts relevant to both disciplines;
  • Analyze and answer basic economic questions about European integration using concepts and reasoning from European economics;
  • Read and analyze case rulings;
  • Develop an argument and express it in writing in correct English.


Why study Economic and Legal Integration of Europe?

With knowledge of the logic of these disciplines a much better understanding of historical and current manifestations of European integration can be obtained. A proper understanding of Economics and Law that characterizes the EU also contributes to a better understanding of historical explanations and facilitates understanding and interpretation of current events.

In addition, this course is the introduction to the major European Law and the European Economics major. These majors offer a good or compulsory preparation for various masters in European Studies. The Master European Policy taught at the University of Amsterdam cannot be followed without any prior knowledge of Law or Economics. For a career focused on the EU (in EU institutions, national governments or international European Industries) knowledge and understanding of the European economy or European law is indispensable.



Students are supplied with a course package containing a number of introductory chapters and selected articles. They will also use a standard textbook that is on the market. In the legal section, students also read primary law sources.


Course Outline

Week 1:

-Introduction European Economics and Law

-The economic constitution of Europe

-Thinking Like an Economist

Week 2:

-Customs Union

-EU Competition Policy

-From the Common Market to the Internal Market

-The benefits of integrated markets: Trade Creation and Trade Diversion

Week 3:

-The Long Road of Monetary Integration

-Monetary Union

-The economic rationale of the Stability and Growth Pact

Week 4:

-Introduction Law: EU Treaties/ Legal Sources / Competences / EU Institutions

-Functioning of EU law: EU Legislation / Direct effect of EU Law / Supremacy of EU Law

-Reading Case Law

-Answering Legal Questions

Week 5:

-Internal market I: Freedoms, positive and negative integration

-Internal market II: Free movement of goods

-Reading Case Law

-Answering Legal Questions

Week 6:

-EU Judicial System: National and EU Courts / Fundamental Rights: EU & ECHR

-Citizenship of the Union

Week 7:

-The Lisbon Agenda / Europe 2020

-Crisis in Eurozone

-Legal aspects of the Eurozone crisis: judicial review of post-crisis measures

-Reading Case Law

-Answering Legal Questions

Week 8:

-Conclusions and Wrap-Up


P.W. (Peter-Wim) Zuidhof is Associate Professor in European Political Economy in the Department of European Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His research focuses on the history and theory of neoliberalism with a particular focus on how academic economics is used in EU policy making. His most recent research has focused on the impact of behavioral economics on EU policy and was published in the Handbook on Behavioural Change and Public Policy, edited by Holger Straßheim and Silke Beck (Cheltenham/Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2019).


Published on January 16, 2020.


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