nl en

The History of European Integration


Admission requirements

not applicable


In March 2017, heads of states from twenty-seven member states of the European Union gathered in Italy to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome that created the European Economic Community. The Treaties of Rome built upon a previous treaty, the 1952 Treaty of Paris, that established a European Coal and Steel Community of six states. The goal of these early Communities was to build a regional organization that would manage the relations between states, in particular between France and Germany, that had engaged in a devastating series of wars from the nineteenth century to the Second World War. Regional institutions were constructed to “bind” West Germany to the West during the early Cold war and to create a means by which economic growth and prosperity could be shared in common.

Much has changed since the signature of the Treaties of Rome in 1957. The European Communities have grown from 6 member states, to 9, to 12, to 15, to 25, to 28, before falling back to 27 after they lost a member state for the first time following the Brexit referendum. As the Communities have grown in size, so too have they grown in ambition and they have acquired a new name, the European Union. However, as early as the first expansion in 1973, the goals of “widening” and “deepening” the Communities have at times proven contradictory goals. In recent years, the European integration process has been increasingly contested and a foreboding sense of threat hovers over the European Union.

In this context, it is more necessary than ever to return to history and examine why and how the Communities that became the European Union came into existence. Through assigned readings and primary sources, we will examine the challenges and failures of efforts for European cooperation that preceded it, as well as alternative paths not taken that presented themselves along the road to the single market, the monetary union and, finally, the Lisbon Treaty under which the European Union operates today.

NB. This course is both part of the BA History programme and the European Union Studies minor programme, but can not count as a course in both programmes at the same time. History students who have taken this course as an elective before and have registerd for the EUS minor will have to choose another elective for their History programme instead.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student can:

  • 1) organise and use relatively large amounts of information;

  • 2) reflect critically on knowledge and understanding as presented in academic literature.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 3) The student has knowledge of a specialisation, more specifically;
    -in the specialisation Economic History the worldwide interaction of trading networks in the early modern period, the nineteenth century industrialisation of the Netherlands in a worldwide perspective, and the political economy of a globalising economy in the twentieth century;
    -in the specialisation Social History: the differences of class, gender, ethnicity and religion; the transfer of people, goods and ideas; connections between people (individually and collectively), companies, states and (international) organisations (including churches) from 1600. Insights from this are used to explain current events and developments.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific lecture course

The student:

  • 4) develops an understanding of the choice for cooperation, the forms that cooperation took and the most important developments in the history of European integration. Students are expected to develop a firm grasp of the timing and nature of these developments, the most important reform areas, and the interests of the member states.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method

The course and all its learning objectives will be assessed through two subtests:

  • Midterm examination: written exam

  • Final examination: written exam


  • Midterm examination: 40%

  • Final examination: 60%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit exam will take place in one single resit, at which both subtests are offered. For this resit three hours will be reserved, so that students will be able to retake both subtests, if necessary.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

  • Mark Gilbert, European Integration: A Political History. Second Edition (Roman & Littlefield, 2020). 

  • Additional readings are available through the University Library catalogue or will made be available by email or Brightspace (see syllabus). 


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


When History students take the European Union Studies minor and have taken this specific course before as an elective course within the BA History programme, this course can no longer count as an elective course within their BA History programme. The course will count as part of the minor programme and students will have to choose another elective lecture course instead.