Why the European Union? A Brief History of European Integration

Learn about how and why the nations of the European Union (EU) cooperate in this free online course.


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What is the European Union for?

On-going European crises have led to a state of confusion about the politics and purpose of the European Union (EU). Many EU citizens have discovered that what they believed the EU was for does not match what EU institutions are actually doing.

The lack of proper knowledge about the origins, evolving nature and purpose of European integration is, to a large extent, responsible for many present-day EU problems. This course will help answer many common questions about the EU by:

  • exploring the history of the EU
  • explaining how the set of institutions that form the EU emerged
  • examining how the purpose of European integration has changed since the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community.

How did the European Union come about and where is it going?

European integration as we know it is the result of a historical process which is not straightforward and often not rational or logical. The European Union — or the Eurozone — was not based on a specific economic rationale or political theory, but is the result of many governments’ actions in the face of diverse situations. This course will teach you how to analyse the complexity of the current European Union and explore what it could look like in the future.

Identify what the European Union does for its members,Assess the role of Germany in the European Union, historically and today,Discuss the debate between liberalisation and protection in the European Union,Evaluate the role of the European Union in an increasingly globalised world,Describe the benefits and costs of a single currency