The European Union (EU) is the world’s most authoritative international governance system, exercising more influence over its member states than any other international organization. Legally and logistically, the EU is built on a series of foundational treaties negotiated and revised by member states in response to internal and external changes. These treaties outline official authorities of EU bodies, and connections between them, as well as relationships between EU bodies, member states and citizens. They also provide the legal foundation for all EU policymaking. During treaty negotiations, politicians are assumed to pursue both key national interests and expansions of regional cooperation for mutual benefit. Unsurprisingly, long-standing spirited debates persist at both EU and national levels on how to balance these goals appropriately. EU treaty ratification is subject to national-level approval based on domestic legal mandates and political expectations; a given treaty might be voted on by national parliaments in some member states and put to public referendum in others. Albert Einstein once famously noted, “If at first the idea is not

absurd, then there is no hope for it.” It took enormous hope and creativity for leading politicians to gaze out over Europe’s war-ravaged landscapes after 1945 and imagine the creation of new regional institutions underpinned by jointly accepted treaties supporting peaceful cooperation and economic growth. While a few philosophers and legal scholars long dreamed of secure and free-trading republics guided by the rule of international law on the European continent, this “absurd idea” only gained traction in the wake of World War II’s

unprecedented destruction and suffering, laying the legal and organizational foundation for what is now the EU.1 The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s demanded another fundamental reconfiguration of European institutions and public and national interests toward an expanded and more deeply integrated region. European and world politics continue to develop with EU bodies and member states among the most important actors.2