Extensive Definition

Supranationalism is a method of decision-making in political communities, wherein power is held by independent appointed officials or by representatives elected by the legislatures or people of the member states. Member-state governments still have power, but they must share this power with others. Because decisions are taken by majority votes, it is possible for a member-state to be forced by the other member-states to implement a decision. Unlike a federal state, member states fully retain their sovereignty and participate voluntarily, being subject to the supranational government only while remaining members.
The opposite method of decision-making in international organizations is intergovernmentalism.

Supranationalism in the European Union

Much of the academic community do not see the European Union as a supranational entity. It is more akin to an intergovernmental organization, as it does not regulate many aspects of the member states; the states themselves vote for bills by Qualified Majority Voting and The European Council (EC) controls the legislative agenda. It is more a matter of negotiation between the states than that of blanket policy.
The EC can also be described as being a supranational body, examples being the existence of a European Parliament (for democracy), and the democratic deficit in policy making (The Commission setting the agenda). While it is true that the Court of Justice often dictates to Member States how to apply their law, neither the court nor the community institutions can exceed the powers conferred upon them by the treaty. In that sense, they are limited in their actions and therefore the EC could be said to not be a supranational body.

Categorising European supranationalism

Joseph H. H. Weiler, in his seminal 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.
supranationalism in Czech: Supranacionalita
supranationalism in German: Supranationalität
supranationalism in Spanish: Supranacionalidad
supranationalism in French: Supranationalisme
supranationalism in Dutch: Supranationalisme
supranationalism in Portuguese: Supranacionalidade
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