Category: EU In Focus

The Evolving EU Government System

As part of the EU in Focus series Professor Nicoló Conti presented a dialogue about the structure of the European Union. Conti begins by clarifying  that the EU is a governing body unlike anything else the world has ever seen, and trying to understand it through the lens of other governing bodies is not only unfeasible, but limits an understanding of what the EU is and how it works. Several factors make the EU unique, important among them is the fact that the EU makes decisions based on collective agreement rather than decision making by a leader. Throughout the dialogue Conti highlighted the roles of four main EU bodies; giving a crash course in how policy is made in the EU. The European Council, Council of the European Union, European Union Parliament, and European Commission are arguably the most important bodies operating in the EU. Read more

State of the Union


Since 2011, the European University Institute has organized the annual Conference on the State of the Union, which occurs during the celebration of the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which created the European Coal and Steel Community, the first brick in the creation of the European Union, on May 9, 1950. The conference convenes important political leaders to discuss the status of the European Union and its current challenges. Discussing the State of the Union has never been easy. It was particularly challenging this year, as the conference was held the day after the UK elections that confirmed David Cameron as Prime Minister. His agenda includes a referendum to discuss the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Additionally, the UKIP, a Eurosceptic party, was the third most voted party in the United Kingdom.

Professor J. H. H. Weiler, President of the EUI, took the floor after the introductory remarks of the Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella. Weiler explicitly said that “the State of the Union is not as it should be and is not as could be.” Read more

A Love Letter to La Pietra Dialogues


La Pietra Dialogues always works hard to provide students with relevant and exciting educational programs. But last week, the good people of LPD outdid themselves with a sponsored field trip to Brussels and Luxembourg. A month ago, I joined the EU in Focus Working Group, one of the many programs LPD has to offer, and began to learn about the intricacies of the supranational political system uniting Europe. But last week, I was able to truly experience the work of the EU as my peers and I traveled from Florence to Brussels to Luxembourg, touring and participating in several EU institutions. Read more

EU in Focus Series: Into the European Union

As we reach the end of the La Pietra Dialogues “EU in Focus” series, NYU Florence students will take a trip to Brussels and Luxembourg to complete the goal of the series which was to understand the importance of the European Union. Throughout the series, students have met with several speakers, including NYU professors Niccolò Conti and Davide Lombardo, as well as European Union Institute professor Cristina Fasone and President Joseph Weiler, who have a strong understanding of the EU’s political structure. They discussed the different aspects of the EU government, such as the EU’s parliamentary system, the Judicial system and the history of the EU. They also analyzed its importance at the international level by discussing its relationship with the United States and other EU member states. Students attended working group meetings where they focused on two main issues in the EU: immigration and data protection policies. The issue on immigration has been a topic debated for the past couple of decades, especially in Italy because it has one of the largest immigrant populations in the EU., while the issue on data protection is a modern issue regarding the 21st century-use of the internet. Students carefully outlined key concepts and information on the EU and its current status on these two issues.  The students presented their findings and engaged in different discussions on the Union and EU member states. Read more

Started from The Bottom

Every Semester hundreds of students from all over the world decide to leave their respective campuses for a unique Italian experience and arrive in Florence. Fifteen (I don’t know the number?) of these students, including myself, decided to take our cultural immersion to the next level as we attended the first European Union Working Group information meeting. There, we were promised a deeper knowledge of the political context surrounding our newest home as we would attend several EU focused Dialogues, work together in multiple workshops focusing on specific EU issues, and travel to Brussels and Luxembourg to visit and participate in several EU institutions. At the end of this meeting, group leader, Niccolo Conti, asked us to describe the EU in one word. A sharp silence fell over the room. We were not trying to be rude by ignoring the speaker. We simply had no idea how to begin to describe this complicated supranational political system. Read more

EU in Focus: The Judicial System

When I was younger, my dream job was to be a Supreme Court Justice for the United States. What better way to know my rights than by interpreting them? However, as I began to study the judicial system in the U.S., I started to realize that being a judge was not in my career interests.  Federalism allocates many different issues (including family, civil, criminal, etc.) to a court. My focus lies on a different direction. It is not that the judicial system is complicated, but it does consist of various structures. However, as a student on the pre-law track I know that I will soon have to fully comprehend the way the judicial system functions. While studying abroad, I have developed a strong interest in the political systems of the European Union. I have made it my goal to learn as much as possible and be exposed to as much enriching information as I can. One way I knew I could do this was by attending lectures with intellectual scholars such as Cristina Fasone. Read more

The EU in Focus: Why Should the European Union Matter to Americans?


Although I am not an American, the question “Why should the European Union matter to Americans?” has triggered my interest and curiosity. I am a student at NYU Abu Dhabi, majoring in political science and interested in international and regional organizations. Studying at NYU Florence for a semester has been a wonderful learning experience, especially when learning about the European Union through my courses and the workshops of The EU in Focus series, which includes Professor Weiler’s talk. Read more

The EU in Focus: Why should the European Union matter to Americans?

Join Joseph H.H Weiler, President of the European University Institute, NYU Law school professor and former Harvard Law professor, as he demonstrates to Americans why the EU is important.


Weiler holds degrees from Sussex (B.A.); Cambridge (LL.B. and LL.M.); and The Hague Academy of International Law (Diploma of International Law). He earned his Ph.D. in European Law at the EUI, Florence. He is recipient of Doctorates Honoris Causa from London University, from Sussex University, from the University of Macerata, Italy and from the University of Edinburgh and is Honorary Member of the Senate of the University of Ljubljana.

Through his long international career and diverse global relationship with institutes and universities, Weiler can communicate with students and explain the significance of the EU and US relationship.

Take the time get some questions answered. Get a chance to dive into the mind of an international scholar who is familiar with the EU system.

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Do you want to travel to the EU? Read On.

So you went to the information meeting on the EU Ground Series Working Group and it all seems great — the opportunities to learn more than you could ever hope about European politics through the Dialogues, a chance to demonstrate that knowledge through the working group presentation, and especially the NYU sponsored field trip to Luxembourg and Brussels. But what is the next step? First, you must attend tonight’s Dialogue with Nicolò Conti at 6pm tonight and learn a general outline of how the European government systems work. Don’t forget to send your RSVP to After attending this dialogue, it is extremely important that you get your motivation letter in to by February 16th explaining your interest in this working group. After you have completed and sent your letter: sit back, relax, and prepare for your group presentation on either immigration or data protection/surveillance. Thank you for your interest and good luck!