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Leiden University

EU policy and implementation: making Europe work!

Leiden University via Coursera


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People have become more critical of EU policy and often seem to prefer local policy solutions in response to globalisation problems. How do you experience EU policy? Does it help? And if not, how can we change this? In this course, we learn how the European Union prepares and decides on policy, and how policy is transferred to member states and implemented by various authorities, including regional and local governments. We discuss the challenges of the European multi-level governance structure. We also focus on the main causes of policy failure or success. On this journey, we focus on actual policy and present the views of various experts: how easy is it to establish yourself in another EU-country? How do governments make sure that the air you breathe is clean? And who is responsible? You will be able to do research together in your own local setting. Research on implementation in which you can make comparisons between different countries or areas. If you live outside the EU, this is not a problem. We have developed assignments in such a way that you can do research in your area and compare your findings with others. This MOOC has been rated as one of the best MOOCs of 2017 and is currently in the Top 50 MOOCs of All Time of Class Central So, are you curious? Please join: 'EU policy and implementation: making Europe work'. Watch our trailer video at


  • Welcome to this course
    • Great that you are joining us! In this course you will learn about the fascinating process of European policy-making and implementation. Before you start studying we invite you to go through our introduction module first. Please introduce yourself on the forum to meet your fellow learners. If you encounter any difficulties while studying, please let us know on the forum. For technical difficulties or questions regarding the course certificate, you can always contact the Coursera Learner Helpdesk. Good luck and we hope you will enjoy studying in this course!
  • Understanding policy and the European policy process
    • The course starts by introducing the main concepts such as policy and the policy process, and includes a discussion of what decision-making is. It is shown that in making a decision the decided outcome is not always the most socially desirable state of affairs. This is important to understand in order to appreciate the imperfections of decision-making at the various levels of the European policy process. Furthermore, we explore the European multi-level policy process, as a starting point for the more specialized lectures in the subsequent weeks. In this week, students are also introduced to the policy dossiers to make their choice.
  • EU Decision-making
    • Focusing on EU decision-making, the main question is: what can go wrong in the European decision-making process over legal measures? The lectures pay attention to the role of sectoral interests in the EU, and time. Policymakers often seem to be in a hurry, which may impact the choices that are made. Furthermore, in the last lecture we turn our perspective to the international context within which the EU operates. International agreements, for example, can be yet another source for further European legislation.
  • Transposition
    • Once legal measures have been adopted, the question arises as to what will happen next? For EU directives, the formal requirements need to be transformed into national legislation by member states. We discuss both a legal and a policy perspective on transposition, which provide rather different perspectives on this work. Adopted legal measures may also require further specification, which brings us to the preparation and adoption of delegated and implementing acts. For these acts the European Commission plays an important role. Finally, we look into the role of the European Commission as an actor overseeing transposition in the member states. Does the Commission act as the ‘guardian of the treaties’?
  • Implementation
    • What can go wrong with implementation? In this week, we focus on the main causes of policy failure and success by discussing three different groups of theories. These address systemic features, such as time, capacity and culture, institutional or normative features related to groups and behavioral features. Each group of possible features is briefly explained and discussed in the lectures. Furthermore, attention is given to the involvement of regional and local governments in the implementation of European policy within member states, which provides yet another challenge to European policy implementation.
  • Redesigning EU policymaking
    • Having experienced the European policy process from European lawmaking to regional and perhaps local implementation, the last week reflects on ways to improve EU policymaking. How can EU policy, but also the policy process be redesigned? What is currently discussed in Brussels? And what are the options? The students will first be introduced to the Better Regulation Agenda of the European Commission, which also aims to improve policymaking. Three different directions of change are discussed in the lectures: (a) the ambition to close the European policy cycle by connecting ex-post evaluations with consultations and impact assessments as tools to prepare for new legislation; (b) introducing more experimentation to obtain better results, and (c) focusing on decentralization as a way of bringing back policymaking power to member states, regional governments or even local government.

Taught by

Bernard Steunenberg


4.8 rating, based on 52 Class Central reviews

4.4 rating at Coursera based on 178 ratings

Start your review of EU policy and implementation: making Europe work!

  • Anonymous
    Fue un curso muy bien impartido sobre formulación de políticas, ademas se recogió una variedad de puntos de vista de todo el continente Lo más importante es que este curso ayudó a cambiar la forma de pensar sobre las políticas, su formulación, implementación y evaluación.
  • Ornella Sofía D'Amore
    The course gives a very complete and integral view of the different Union mechanisms and provides an excellent insight of the European Union administrative practices. A remarkably approach from the theoretical study and method analysis of every lecture and the readings provided. Besides from my point of view, all the work team and Professor are actively present encouraging and helping as the weeks advance and finally, I should add I found very constructive the interviews scope, calls to a reflexive review of the European Union.
  • Anonymous
    Are you interested in challenging yourself and learning how the European Union works? In this course you will get the opportunity to achieve a new level of understanding about the European Directives and how they are implemented in the member states. You also get the opportunity to seek into different themes, be part of an investigation and write essays in order to understand the European Directive process, challenging yourself.
    This is an informative, engaging and stimulating course.
  • Anonymous
    This MOOC was a very well delivered course in European policy formation and implementation. It took a variety of views from around the continent and expressed the diversity of EU policy in national and local situations. Most importantly, this course helped change how I think about policy, its formulation, implementation, and assessment.
  • Anonymous
    This course as other courses by Leiden are too generalize. This course is also too generalized. There is no possibility to express your view, if your view is different from Leiden you risk to be insulted. And some mentors are like trolls you can see same mentor on 10 different courses with different topics what is nonsense.
  • Anonymous
    For any EURO sceptic this course is an eye opener to the intricate workings of an unique institution the European Union is.
    It shows that there is much more potential to create a win win situation in Europe if and when countries or regions cooperate.
    I highly recommend this course.
  • Anonymous
    Good overview and requires more thinking than the average Coursera course (which I think is important for any policy course). I found it very helpful playing catch-up and developing a basic understanding for EU mechanisms after a change in career directions from IT to Law.
  • Anonymous
    I learned much in this class. I particularly liked that it was in-depth; rather than a series of surface lectures. The topic was real; and the presentation educational.
  • In this MOOC the lecturer is trying to answer the growing critics on EU policy that arose in many countries in Europe. This course wants to clarify whether the European policy is beneficial to citizens and want to take a closer look at how the Europ…
  • Anonymous
    I participated in this Course as part of my elective during my MPA studies at Leiden University. What I really liked of this course is that it enables students to really engage in the different steps of EU policy-making. By offering the weekly quiz as a marker to see how much you have understood of the theory, the students get the chance to proof themselves. The set-up on how EU policy is made and what institutions are involved, is excellent. To recap, I enjoyed this course due to its professional and academic challenging aspects and fun set-up.
  • Anonymous
    Lots of talks about the EU. So I decided to follow the MOOC to gain more insight in order to feel comfortable enough to form my own opinions on the how the EU is functioning. The MOOC also helped me in my day to day work where the implications of EU policymaking process and it's subsequent implementation on different levels are easier to understand. It made it easier to find my way in the abundant resources.
  • Anonymous
    The course skilfully guides you through a vast amount of information, ranging from theory to actual case studies. The layered approach and carefully phrased questions are designed to help you get to grips with the material and to actually understand the principles. I recommend this course to anyone, in any jurisdiction, who needs to understand the decision-making process in the European Union.
  • Very informative and critical on policy implementation but it is not easy to get comparative information from most underdeveloped countries and please include a section on comparative analysis with AU or other regions as an option in other to be able to assess progress within the developing world.
  • Really interesting and well/organised course. Both enjoyable and educational. I am a Politics graduate and learned a lot of new information as well as updating my knowledge of things I already knew. I would recommend this course to anyone who wanted to improve their understanding of this subject.
  • Anonymous
    The course is very educating and academically useful, the course structure and the expertise of instructor is a motivator. I highly recommend this class to all people who want to have a comprehensive insight and knowledge about the EU and procedures and policies and practices on procurement.
  • Anonymous
    The course combines successfully theory and practice through exercises directly applied to the EU policy and implementation.
    The course presents information is a meaningful way, having both video and transcript.
    The teacher is my all times favourite.
  • Anonymous
    Dear All this cours give me an overwiev of the EU and I learn a lot. If I had enough time I would attende it again. I hope that this kind of education will become pratice for all of u Who dont have other chance to learn more about EU at university.
  • Anonymous
    Very useful, the topics have been widely discussed and the ideas will certainly be useful in my daily work. Different experiences in different locations suggest different interpretations that can be adapted on a case-by-case basis.
  • Anonymous
    It was a very interesting and detailed course that helped understand a lot about how EU works. For example which is the role of the European Commission and which is the place of the member-states in the legislative procedure.
  • Anonymous
    I did this course as a professional humanitarian.....I found it excellent, practical and well paced. Highly recommended for people with a legal, humanitarian, development, or international relations minded person.

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