82005 - Economics of the EU

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course is an introduction to the ECONOMICS and POLITICAL ECONOMY of the European Union. Special importance is given to the economic, political and institutional prerequisites of EU integration and enlargement – and to the consequences that integration and enlargement have on member states. Hence, students will become familiar with concepts and models of economics and political economy that are especially useful for understanding and evaluating these processes and the policies that accompany them. One third of the course is dedicated to the institutional and policies innovations adopted since 2008, during the Great Recession.

Course contents

The course is taught in the second semester, in the Campus of Forlì.

Introduction: Organization and Overview

1. Overview: What is the EU? Why is it this way? What has the EU achieved?

  1. A project with no strategy: Main steps in the integration process
  2. EU institutions and their powers
  3. The role of Member States
  4. The Internal Market. Principles and Rules
  5. Enlargement
  6. EMU
  7. EU and EMU in the XXI Century (so far): Divergence, Crises, Adaptation, Current challenges. Heading to where?

2. The Internal Market and market integration

  1. The IM for goods. Steps towards integration
  2. Political economy of the IM
  3. Measuring integration
  4. Measuring productivity
  5. Why is productivity lagging?
  6. The IM for services. Why different?
  7. Factor markets integration
  8. Financial markets integration in a MU

3. Complements to the IM

  1. Taxation. Harmonization? How should multinationals be taxed?
  2. Trade and Brexit
  3. MFF and the Budget
  4. Regional policy and Structural Funds
  5. Social Europe

4. EMU – Setting up and the first years

  1. Why a monetary union? Why an incomplete union? Why no fiscal union?
  2. Initial design: independence, mandate, convergence criteria. Monetary policy: objectives and rules.
  3. Fiscalp policy: purposes and objectives. Rules for decentralized fiscal policy in a MU.
  4. Political economy of an incomplete MU
  5. Monetary Policy in practice: The first nine years
  6. Fiscal Policy and the SGP
  7. Building up of real divergences.

5. After 2008: Recession and Crises

  1. Financial crisis. Why? How? What have we learned?
  2. Great Recession
  3. Sovereign debt crises
  4. Policy responses
  5. Why the EA has been so less effective than the USA?
  6. Debates on austerity
  7. Non-standard MP: new tools and methods. Also new goals?
  8. Economics and PE of ECB's bond purchasing programs

6. Forged by two crises: Changes in the EU and EA after 2008 and after 2020

  1. The Five Presidents’ Report and institutional reforms
  2. The Covid-19 recession and lessons finally learned. Risk-sharing at last?
  3. Challenges ahead
  4. Green Transition


Lecture notes, required readings and documents are available through "Virtuale" (and also, optionally, through a dedicated Dropbox directory).

Required readings include also selected chapters in:

Baldwin,Richard and Wyplosz, Charles (2015) The Economics of European Integration. McGraw Hill, 5/e. (BW)

De Grauwe, Paul (2016) Economics of Monetary Union. Oxford UP, 11/e. (DG)

  • Part 2: BW ch. 8.
  • Part 3: BW ch. 12.
  • Part 4 & 5: DG chs. 4-10.

The Drobox directory also contains many "additional" (not-required) readings (in "ADD" sub-directories) on all the topics discussed in class: these readings are useful for those interested to take a deeper look into many ongoing debates.

Ask the instructor for access to this Directory.

Teaching methods

  • Lectures will be delivered in presence. In case of a continuation of the pandemic and the related safety restrictions, lectures will be switched online, in which case classes will meet on Teams.

  • Lectures will be supported by PC-based presentations. Students must download and read these presentations (and possibly the related readings) before lectures.

  • Students are encouraged to take an active part in class discussions and are expected to interact with the teacher (and with each other) during classes.

  • Students will be taught and encouraged to search for and obtain relevant information (data; official documents; academic literature; policy analyses) through the Internet, and to evaluate and discuss them critically.

Assessment methods

Attendance to classes is required (whether in presence or online), except for Erasmus outgoing students.

All students are required to pass a Fitness Test (no marks, see below). The purpose of this test is to verify their ability to search and download data from appropriate Internet sources and to produce simple data presentations.

Attending students ("frequentanti") are required to pass two written tests and to deliver an essay.

Students who do not take the intermediate tests or do not pass them will take a longer single written test, with no essay, in a regular exam session.

The structure of the exams is described below in more detail.


FT: The Fitness Test ("Idoneità")

All students must pass a fitness test (FT), under the guidance of the instructor.

The test (which does not contribute to the final mark) requires to:

a) identify a EU economic topic with a relevant quantitative dimension;

b) download relevant data from a reputable source (Eurostat, ECB, OECD, IMF, National Statistical Services or Central Bank, etc...);

c) perform simple operations on those data in an Excel file;

d) prepare a "user friendly" table and graph to summarize the main characteristics of the data examined;

e) write a short comment (250 words) describing the main stylized facts that can be observed by the data;

f) assemble the comment, the main graph or table(s) and the source data in a .pdf file.

The .pdf file of the FT (only) must be sent to the instructor before taking any intermediate or final exam.

ATTENDING STUDENTS ("Studenti frequentanti"):

The final mark is equal to the sum of the points obtained from three evaluations:

  • Intermediate written test (prova intermedia - max 11 points)
  • Final written test (prova finale - max 11 points)
  • Essay (max 11 points).

If points are equal to 31 or more, the final mark is 30 cum laude.

Intermediate and Final written tests:

  • Answers (max. 250 words) to 3 open questions (out of 5).
  • Exams take place at Labic; exam questions will be delivered through EOL.
  • One exam may be missed exclusively for grave reasons (to be authorized explicitly), in which case it will have to be taken in the first “appello di esami” in the June session.

Essay: no more than 3000 words long.

  • Must address a single, well identified and relevant policy issue. The topic should be chosen with the guidance of the instructor.
  • Must be written in (reasonably good) English.
  • Must be delivered by e-mail as a .pdf file at least ten days before the last “appello d’esami” in July 2022.


Must take a single written exam, identified on EOL as "Economics of the EU - Exam for NON FREQUENTANTI", during one regular exam session.

  • The exam will require answers (max 250 words) to 6 (out of 8) open questions. Each question is valued up to 5,5 pts.
  • Topics and readings are the same as for attending students.
  • No essay required.


For all students, a positive grade (greater than or equal to 18/30) may be refused only once.

A new exam must then be taken in the next exam session, as a "non attending" students.

Teaching tools

Detailed lecture notes cover all topics included in the course.

They are available as .pdf files on a Dropbox directory that will be shared with students. (A link will be given during the first class).

They provide the basis for the lectures delivered in class, and for the ensuing discussions.

In addition, they may include background information that students are required to study by themselves.

Students are advised to download and read these notes (and possibly the related readings) before lectures.

Should classes be held online on MS TEAMS, students will be expected to interact with the teacher (and with each other) via the "Chat" line.

Office hours

See the website of Riccardo Rovelli