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A supranational union is a type of
multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, a sovereign state that comprises two or more nat ...
political union A political union is a type of political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (s ...
where negotiated power is delegated to an authority by governments of member
nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (news ...
s. The term is sometimes used to describe the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
(EU) as a new type of
political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between indi ...
. It is the only entity that provides for international popular elections, going beyond the level of political integration normally afforded by international
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...

treaties
. The term "supranational" is sometimes used in a loose, undefined sense in other contexts such as a substitute for international, transnational or global. Another method of
decision-making In psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in ...
in international organisations is
intergovernmentalism In international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between s ...
in which state governments play a more prominent role.


Origin as a legal concept

After the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945,
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Albert Einstein
spoke and wrote frequently in the late 1940s in favor of a "supranational" organization to control all military forces except for local police forces, including nuclear weapons. He thought this might begin with the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, and grow to encompass most other nations, presenting this as the only way to avoid nuclear war. He broached the idea in the November 1945 and November 1947 articles in ''
The Atlantic Monthly ''The Atlantic'' is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher. It was founded in 1857 in Boston, Massachusetts, as ''The Atlantic Monthly'', a literary and cultural magazine that published leading writers' commentary on education, the ...
'' that described how the constitution of such an organization might be written. In an April 1948 address at Carnegie Hall, he reiterated: "There is only ''one'' path to peace and security: the path of supranational organization." Thanks to his celebrity, Einstein's ideas on the subject generated much discussion and controversy, but the proposal did not generate much support in the West and the Soviet Union viewed it with hostility. With its founding Statute of 1949 and its Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which came into force in 1953, the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
created a system based on
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
and the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
.
Robert Schuman Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (; 29 June 18864 September 1963) was a Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=n ...
, French foreign minister, initiated the debate on supranational democracy in his speeches at the United Nations, at the signing of the Council's Statutes and at a series of other speeches across Europe and North America. The term "supranational" occurs in an international treaty for the first time (twice) in the Treaty of Paris, 18 April 1951. This new legal term defined the
community methodThe Community method (also known as the Union method) refers to decision making processes in the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located ...
in creating the
European Coal and Steel Community The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was a European organisation An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language fir ...

European Coal and Steel Community
and the beginning of the democratic re-organisation of Europe. It defines the relationship between the High Authority or
European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. The executive executes a ...

European Commission
and the other four institutions. In the treaty, it relates to a new democratic and legal concept. The
Founding Fathers The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing their nation. National founders are typically those who played an influential role in setting up the systems of governance, ...
of the European Community and the present European Union said that supranationalism was the cornerstone of the governmental system. This is enshrined in the ''
Europe Declaration The Europe Declaration, also known as the Charter of the Community, was a joint statement issued by the Foreign Ministers of West Germany West Germany is the common English name for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG; german: Bundesrepublik ...
'' made on 18 April 1951, the same day as the European Founding Fathers signed the Treaty of Paris.'' Der Schuman Plan. Vertrag ueber die Gruendung der europaeischen Gemeinschaft fuer Kohl und Stahl'', p21 Ulrich Sahm mit einem Vorwort von Walter Hallstein. Frankfurt 1951. ''Schuman or Monnet? The real Architect of Europe. Robert Schuman's speeches and texts on the origin, purpose and future of Europe '' p 129. Bron 2004 "By the signature of this Treaty, the participating Parties give proof of their determination to create the first supranational institution and that thus they are laying the true foundation of an organised Europe. This Europe remains open to all nations. We profoundly hope that other nations will join us in our common endeavour." This declaration of principles that included their judgement for the necessary future developments was signed by
Konrad Adenauer Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer (; 5 January 1876 – 19 April 1967) was a German statesman who served as the first chancellor of West Germany from 1949 to 1963. From 1946 to 1966, he was the first leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) ...

Konrad Adenauer
(West Germany),
Paul van Zeeland Paul Guillaume, Viscount van Zeeland (11 November 1893 – 22 September 1973) was a Belgian lawyer, economist, Catholic politician, and statesman born in Soignies Soignies (; nl, Zinnik, ; pcd, Sougniye; wa, Sougniye) is a city and Municip ...
and Joseph Meurice (Belgium),
Robert Schuman Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (; 29 June 18864 September 1963) was a Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=n ...
(France), Count Sforza (Italy),
Joseph Bech Joseph Bech (17 February 1887 – 8 March 1975)Thewes, Guy"Les gouvernements du Grand-Duché depuis 1848." Service information et presse. Luxembourg: Imprimerie Centrale, 2011. was a Luxembourgish politician and lawyer. He was the 15th Prime Mi ...
(Luxembourg), and
Dirk Stikker Dirk Uipko Stikker (5 February 1897 – 23 December 1979) was a Dutch politician and diplomat of the defunct Liberal State Party (LSP), co-founder of the defunct Freedom Party (Netherlands), Freedom Party (PvdV) and of the People's Party for ...

Dirk Stikker
and
Jan van den Brink Johannes Roelof Maria "Jan" van den Brink (12 April 1915 – 19 July 2006) was a Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (al ...

Jan van den Brink
(The Netherlands). It was made to recall future generations to their historic duty of uniting Europe based on liberty and democracy under the rule of law. Thus, they viewed the creation of a wider and deeper Europe as intimately bound to the healthy development of the supranational or Community system. This Europe was open to all nations who were free to decide, a reference/or an invitation and encouragement of liberty to the
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geo ...
countries. The term supranational does not occur in succeeding treaties, such as the
Treaties of Rome The Treaty of Rome, or EEC Treaty (officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community), brought about the creation of the European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization a ...
, the
Maastricht Treaty The Treaty on European Union, commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty, is the foundation treaty of the European Union (EU). Concluded in 1992 between the then-twelve Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Communities, ...
, the
Treaty of Nice The Treaty of Nice was signed by European leaders on 26 February 2001 and came into force on 1 February 2003. It amended the Maastricht Treaty The Treaty on European Union, commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty, is the foundation treaty o ...
or the Constitutional Treaty or the very similar
Treaty of Lisbon The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, als ...
.


Distinguishing features of a supranational union

A supranational union is a supranational
polity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cog ...
which lies somewhere between a
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
that is an association of states and a federation that is a state. The European Economic Community was described by its founder
Robert Schuman Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (; 29 June 18864 September 1963) was a Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=n ...
as midway between confederalism which recognises the complete independence of states in an association and
federalism Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Maga ...
which seeks to fuse them in a super-state. The EU has supranational competences, but it possesses these competences only to the extent that they are conferred on it by its member states ('' Kompetenz-Kompetenz''). Within the scope of these competences, the union exercises its powers in a
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''superānus'', meaning "above". The roles of a sovereign v ...
manner, having its own
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure ...
, executive, and
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
authorities. The supranational Community also has a chamber for organised civil society including economic and social associations and regional bodies. Unlike states in a federal super-state, member states retain ultimate sovereignty, although some sovereignty is shared with, or ceded to, the supranational body. The supranational action may be time-limited. This was the case with the
European Coal and Steel Community The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was a European organisation An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language fir ...

European Coal and Steel Community
, which was agreed for 50 years with the possibility of renewal. Supranational accords may be permanent, such as an agreement to outlaw war between the partners. Full sovereignty can be reclaimed by withdrawing from the supranational arrangements but the member state may also lose existing advantages offered by unrestricted access to participating states, such as economies of scale. A supranational union, because it is an agreement between sovereign states, is based on international treaties. The European treaties in general are different from classical treaties as they are constitutionalizing treaties, that is, they provide the basis for a European level of governance and rule of law. These treaties are similar to the
British constitution The Constitution of the United Kingdom or British constitution comprises the written and unwritten arrangements that establish the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ir ...
, in that they are not necessarily a single document. They are based on
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...

treaties
between its member governments but normally have to undergo closer scrutiny than other treaties because they are more far-ranging, affecting many areas of citizens' lives and livelihoods. Decision-making is partly intergovernmental and partly supranational within the Community areas. The latter provides a higher degree of institutional scrutiny both via the Parliament and through the Consultative Committees. Intergovernmentalism provides for less democratic oversight, especially where the institution such as the
Council of MinistersThe Council of Ministers is a traditional name given to the supreme executive organ in some governments. The term is usually equivalent to the word " cabinet" ( Council of State is a similar term that also may refer to a Cabinet. However, the terms ...

Council of Ministers
or the
European Council The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are loc ...
takes place behind closed doors, rather than in a parliamentary chamber. A supranational authority may have some independence from member state governments in specific areas, although not as much independence as with a federal government. Supranational institutions, like federal governments, imply the possibility of pursuing agendas in ways that the delegating states did not initially envision. Democratic supranational Communities, however, are defined by treaty and by law. The union has legal supremacy over its member states only to the extent that its member state governments have conferred competences on the union. It is up to the individual governments to assure that they have full democratic backing in each of the member states. The citizens of the member states, though retaining their nationality and national
citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...

citizenship
, additionally become citizens of the union, as is the case with the European Union. The European Union, the only clear example of a supranational union, has a
parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...

parliament
with legislative oversight, elected by its citizens. To this extent, a supranational union like the European Union has characteristics that are not entirely dissimilar to the characteristics of a
federal state A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
like the
United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States of America
. However, the differences in scale become apparent if one compares the
United States federal budget The United States federal budget comprises the spending and revenue In accounting, revenue is the income or increase in net assets that an entity has from its normal activities (in the case of a business, usually from the sale of product (busin ...
with the
budget of the European Union The European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total populati ...
(which amounts only to about one percent of combined GDP) or the size of the federal civil service of the United States with the
Civil Service of the European Union The European Civil Service is a generic term applied to all staff serving the institutions and agencies of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states ...
. Because decisions in some EU structures are taken by majority votes, it is possible for a member state to be obliged by the other members to implement a decision.


Supranationalism in the European Union

Historically the concept was introduced and made a concrete reality by
Robert Schuman Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (; 29 June 18864 September 1963) was a Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=n ...
when the French Government agreed to the principle in the
Schuman Declaration The Schuman Declaration was a speech made by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Robert Schuman, on 9 May 1950. It proposed placing French and West German production of coal and steel under a single authority that would later b ...
and accepted the Schuman Plan confined to specific sectors of vital interest of peace and war. Thus commenced the European Community system beginning with the
European Coal and Steel Community The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was a European organisation An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language fir ...

European Coal and Steel Community
. The six founder States (France, Italy, West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) agreed on the goal: making "war not only unthinkable but materially impossible". They agreed about the means: putting the vital interests, namely coal and steel production, under a common High Authority, subject to common democratic and legal institutions. They agreed on the European rule of law and a new democratic procedure. The five institutions (besides the High Authority) were a Consultative Committee (a chamber representing civil society interests of enterprises, workers and consumers), a parliament, and a Council of government ministers. A Court of Justice would decide disputes coming from governments, public or private enterprises, consumer groups, any other group interests or even an individual. A complaint could be lodged in a local tribunal or national courts, where appropriate. Member states have yet to fulfil and develop the articles in the Paris and Rome treaties for full democracy in the European Parliament and other institutions such as the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions. Schuman described supranational unions as a new stage in human development. It contrasted with destructive nationalisms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that began in a glorious patriotism and ended in wars. He traced the beginning concept of supranationality back to the nineteenth century, such as the Postal Union, and the term supranational is used around the time of the First World War. Democracy, which he defined as "in the service of the people and acting in agreement with it", was a fundamental part of a supranational community. However, governments only began to hold direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979, and then not according to the treaties. A single electoral statute was specified in the treaty for Europe's first community of coal and steel in 1951. Civil society (largely non-political) was to have its own elected chamber in the Consultative Committees specific to each Community as democratically agreed, but the process was frozen (as were Europe's parliamentary elections) by
Charles de Gaulle Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (; ; 22 November 18909 November 1970) was a French army officer and statesman who led Free France against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 19 ...
and other politicians who opposed the Community method. Today supranationalism only exists in the two European Communities inside the EU: the Economic Community (often called the European Community although it does not legally cover all State activities) and Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community, a non-proliferation community, in which certain potentialities have been frozen or blocked). Supranational Communities provide powerful but generally unexploited and innovatory means for democratic foreign policy, by mobilising civil society to the democratically agreed goals of the Community. The first Community of Coal and Steel was agreed only for fifty years. Opposition, mainly by enterprises which had to pay a small European tax of less than 1% and government ministers in the Council, led to its democratic mandate not being renewed. Its jurisprudence and heritage remains part of the European Community system. De Gaulle attempted to turn the European Commission into a political secretariat under his control in the Fouchet Plan but this move was thwarted by such democrats in the
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a politico ''Politico'' (stylized ''POLITICO''), known originally as ''The Politico'', is a political journalism Politi ...

Benelux
countries as
Paul-Henri Spaak Paul-Henri Charles Spaak (25 January 1899 – 31 July 1972) was an influential Belgian Socialist politician, diplomat and statesman. Along with Robert Schuman Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (; 29 June 18864 September 1963) was a Luxe ...
,
Joseph Luns Joseph Marie Antoine Hubert Luns (28 August 1911 – 17 July 2002) was a Dutch politician and diplomat of the defunct Catholic People's Party (KVP) now merged into the Christian Democratic Appeal The Christian Democratic Appeal ( nl, Christ ...

Joseph Luns
and
Joseph Bech Joseph Bech (17 February 1887 – 8 March 1975)Thewes, Guy"Les gouvernements du Grand-Duché depuis 1848." Service information et presse. Luxembourg: Imprimerie Centrale, 2011. was a Luxembourgish politician and lawyer. He was the 15th Prime Mi ...
as well as a large wave of other pro-Europeans in all the Community countries. The supranational Community method came under attack, not only from de Gaulle but also from other nationalists and Communists. In the post-de Gaulle period, rather than holding pan-European elections under a single statute as specified in all the treaties, governments held and continue to hold separate national elections for the European Parliament. These often favour the major parties and discriminate against smaller, regional parties. Rather than granting elections to organised civil society in the consultative committees, governments created a three-pillar system under the
Amsterdam Treaty The Treaty of Amsterdam, officially the Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, was signed on 2 October 1997, and entered into force on 1 May 1999; it ...
and
Maastricht Treaty The Treaty on European Union, commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty, is the foundation treaty of the European Union (EU). Concluded in 1992 between the then-twelve Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Communities, ...
, mixing intergovernmental and supranational systems. Two pillars governing External policy and Justice and Home affairs are not subject to the same democratic controls as the Community system. In the Lisbon Treaty and the earlier nearly identical Constitutional Treaty, the democratic independence of the five key institutions is further blurred. This moves the project from full democratic supranationalism in the direction of not just intergovernmentalism but the politicisation of the institutions, and control by two or three major party political organisations. The Commission defines key legal aspects of the supranational system because its members must be independent of commercial, labour, consumer, political or lobby interests (Article 9 of the Paris Treaty). The Commission was to be composed of a small number of experienced personalities, whose impartiality was beyond question. As such, the early presidents of the
Commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...

Commission
and the High Authority were strong defenders of European democracy against national, autocratic practice or the rule of the strong over the weak. The idea in the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties is to run the European Commission as a political office. Governments would prefer to have a ''national'' member in the Commission, although this is against the principle of supranational democracy. (The original concept was that the Commission should act as a single impartial college of independent, experienced personalities having public confidence. One of the Communities was defined in the treaty with a Commission with fewer members than the number of its member states.) Thus, the members of the Commission are becoming predominantly party-political, and composed of sometimes rejected, disgraced or unwanted national politicians. The first president of the High Authority was
Jean Monnet Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet (; 9 November 1888 – 16 March 1979) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, ...

Jean Monnet
, who never joined a political party, as was the case with most of the other members of the Commissions. They came from diverse liberal professions, having made recognised European contributions. Governments also wish to retain the secrecy of their deliberations in the Council of Ministers or the European Council, which discusses matters of the most vital interest to European citizens. While some institutions such as the European Parliament have their debates open to the public, others such as the Council of Ministers and numerous committees are not. Schuman wrote in his book, ''Pour l'Europe'' (''For Europe''), that in a democratic supranational Community "the Councils, committees and other organs should be placed under the control of public opinion that was effectual without paralysing their activity nor useful initiatives".


Categorising European supranationalism

Joseph H. H. Weiler Joseph Halevi Horowitz Weiler (born 2 September 1951) is a South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is ...

Joseph H. H. Weiler
, in his work ''The Dual Character of Supranationalism'', states that there are two main facets to European supranationalism, although these seem to be true of many supranational systems. These are: * Normative supranationalism: The Relationships and hierarchy which exist between Community policies and legal measures on one hand and the competing policies and legal measures of the member states on the other (the executive dimension) * Decisional supranationalism: The institutional framework and decision making by which such measures are initiated, debated, formulated, promulgated and, finally, executed (the legislative-judicial dimension) In many ways, the split sees the separation of powers confined to merely two branches.


Comparing the European Union and the United States

In the
Lisbon Treaty The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, als ...
, the distribution of competences in various policy areas between member states and the European Union is redistributed in three categories. In 19th century U.S., it had exclusive competences only. Competences not explicitly listed belong to lower levels of governance.


Democratic deficit in the EU and other supranational unions

In a supranational union, the problem of how to reconcile the principle of equality among nation states, which applies to international (intergovernmental) organisations, and the principle of equality among citizens, which applies within
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (news ...
s is resolved by taking a sectoral approach. This allows an innovatory, democratic broadening the number of actors to be included. These are present not only in the classical Parliament which has slightly different functions but also in the Consultative Committees such as the
European Economic and Social Committee The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body of the European Union (EU) established in 1958. It is an advisory assembly composed of "social partners", namely: employers ( employers' organisations), employees (trade u ...

European Economic and Social Committee
and the
Committee of the Regions The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union's (EU) assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, counties, provinces, municipalities and cities) with a direct voice wi ...

Committee of the Regions
which the treaties give powers equivalent to parliaments in their own areas but which are at present still developing their potential. In the European Union, the
Lisbon Treaty The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, als ...
mixes two principles (classical parliamentary government with a politically elected government) and a supranational community with a totally independent
European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. The executive executes a ...

European Commission
. Governments are also trying to treat the Lisbon Treaty as a simple classical treaty, or even an amendment to one, which does not require citizens' support or democratic approval. The proposed Lisbon Treaty and the earlier Constitutional draft still retain in the European Union elements of a supranational union, as distinct from a federal state on the lines of the United States of America. But this is at the expense of the democratic potentialities of a full supranational union as conceived in the first Community.


Other international organisations with some degree of integration

The only union generally recognised as having achieved the status of a supranational union is the European Union. There are a number of other regional organisations that, while not supranational unions, have adopted or intend to adopt policies that may lead to a similar sort of integration in some respects. *
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organiza ...

African Union
(AU) *
Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN; ( , ) officially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is an economic union comprising 10 member states in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southe ...

Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) *
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a politico ''Politico'' (stylized ''POLITICO''), known originally as ''The Politico'', is a political journalism Politi ...

Benelux
, a political union of Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Though part of the EU, EU treaties contain an exception that EU law is subservient to Benelux integration. *
Caribbean Community The Caribbean Community (CARICOM or CC) is an organisation of fifteen states and dependencies throughout the Caribbean having primary objectives to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of int ...
(CARICOM) *
Central American Integration System The Central American Integration System ( es, Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana, or SICA) has been the economic and political organization of Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region ...

Central American Integration System
(SICA) *
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations The Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations (russian: Сообщество за демократию и права народов), also commonly known as the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States, rarely as CIS-2 (), is an international organ ...
*
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf ( ar, مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربية), originally (and still colloquially) known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC, ), is a Regional integration, regional in ...
(Gulf Cooperation council) (GCC) *
Eurasian Economic Union The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)EAEU is the acronym is used in thorganisation’s website However, many media outlets use the acronym EEU. is an economic union of states located in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the Europea ...

Eurasian Economic Union
(EAEU) * International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) *
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) or international organization is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (ref ...
(SAARC) *
Union of South American Nations The Union of South American Nations (USAN; es, links=no, Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; pt, links=no, União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; nl, links=no, Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN; and sometimes referred to as ...
(USAN) *
Commonwealth of Independent States The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS; russian: Содружество Независимых Государств, СНГ, translit=Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv, SNG) is a regional intergovernmental organization in Eastern Euro ...

Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS) *
Union State The Union State,; be, Саю́зная дзяржа́ва, Sajuznaja dziaržava. also referred to as the Union State of Russia and Belarus,; be, Саю́зная дзяржа́ва Расі́і і Белару́сі, Sajuznaja dziaržava Ra ...

Union State
*
Turkic Council The Organization of Turkic States, formerly called the Turkic Council or the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, is an international organization An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergo ...

Turkic Council
(TurkKon) *
Economic Cooperation Organization The Economic Cooperation Organization or ECO is an Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It ...

Economic Cooperation Organization
(ECO) *
Organization of Ibero-American States The Organization of Ibero-American States ( es, Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Ibero-americanos; abbreviated as OEI), formally the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture, ...
(OEI) *
Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) is a regional international organization ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, interna ...
(BSEC) *
Pacific Alliance The Pacific Alliance ( es, link=no, Alianza del Pacífico) is a Latin American trade bloc, formed by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, which all border the Pacific Ocean. The alliance was formed with the express purpose of improving regional in ...

Pacific Alliance
Other organisations that have also discussed greater integration include: *
Arab League The Arab League ( ar, الجامعة العربية, '), formally the League of Arab States ( ar, جامعة الدول العربية, '), is a regional organization in the Arab world, which is located in Africa and Western Asia. The Arab L ...

Arab League
into an "
Arab Union The Arab Union is a proposed concept of a political union of the Arab states. The term was first used when the British Empire promised the Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , ...
" *
Pacific Islands Forum The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an inter-governmental In international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign sta ...

Pacific Islands Forum
into the " Pacific Union" *
Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia The Eurasian Customs Union (EACU; russian: Таможенный союз ЕАЭС, Tamozhenyi soyuz) is a customs union which consists of all the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union. The customs union is a principal task of the Eurasian Ec ...
into the "
Eurasian Union The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)EAEU is the acronym is used in thorganisation’s website However, many media outlets use the acronym EEU. is an economic union of states located in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Central Asia. The Treaty o ...
" *
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), french: link=no, Communauté des États latino-américains et caribéens, nl, Gemeenschap van Latijns-Amerikaanse en Caraïbische Staten is a regional bloc of Latin American and Ca ...

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
(CELAC) into the " Latin American Union" *
East African Community The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organisation composed of six countries in the African Great Lakes The African Great Lakes ( sw, Maziwa Makuu) are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in an ...

East African Community
into the "
East African Federation The East African Federation (Swahili language, Swahili: ''Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki'') is a proposed political union of the six sovereign states of the East African CommunityBurundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Ugandaas a singl ...

East African Federation
"


See also

* Staatenverbund *
Continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organizations, to supranational union, supranational politi ...
*
Democratic globalizationDemocratic globalisation is a social movement towards an institutional system of global democracy. In their view, this would bypass nation-states, corporate oligopolies, ideological Non-governmental organisation, NGOs, cults and mafias. One of its mo ...
*
Devolution Devolution is the statutory A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or p ...
*
Economic union An economic union is a type of trade bloc A trade bloc is a type of intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovere ...
*
Federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...

Federation
*
History of the European Coal and Steel Community (1945–57) History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing systems are considered ...
*
International human rights law International human rights law (IHRL) is the body of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A na ...
*
International parliament An international parliament or supranational legislature is a branch of an intergovernmental organization that is similar to a parliament, thus establishing a hybrid system of intergovernmentalism and supranationalism. These could be based on a pred ...
* List of economic communities *
List of free trade agreements The List of free-trade agreements has been split into: * List of multilateral free-trade agreements * List of bilateral free-trade agreements {{Short pages monitor