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What is the difference between intergovernmental and supranational cooperation?

Within the EU, there are various forms of cooperation between the Member States. In order to understand the EU, it is necessary to realise that at an overall level there are two different forms of cooperation, which bind the countries in different ways. The type of cooperation involved will depend on which treaty forms the basis for the cooperation.

Part of what makes the EU so unique in international politics is what is known as supranational cooperation.  Supranational cooperation means that rules can be made in the EU which have a direct impact on the Member States and thereby also a direct effect on the citizens of the Member States. EU cooperation relating to the internal market, agriculture, fisheries, etc. are examples of areas in which there is supranational cooperation. The provisions relating to this cooperation are set out in the EC Treaty.

There is also what is known as intergovernmental cooperation, which is the traditional form of international cooperation between counties. Basically, intergovernmental cooperation means that the rules that are adopted only bind the States. This means that the Danish Parliament must approve the EU’s intergovernmental rules before they can have a direct effect on the citizens of Denmark .

Intergovernmental EU cooperation is used in political areas where it might be difficult for countries to enter into a form of cooperation as close as supranational cooperation. Intergovernmental cooperation is therefore used in areas of police cooperation, legal cooperation relating to criminal cases and the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The provisions relating to this cooperation are set out in the EU Treaty.