The EU nowadays is a very powerful political actor and has a very big influence, not only in Europe, but also in the rest of the world. Starting from a community for joint coal and steel administration it developed further and further. Today there is a discussion among scholars about the type of political actor the EU constitutes. Is it an international organization, a political system, a supranational state or something completely new and incomparable. This paper wants to prove that the European Union is not an international organization, despite having some of the appropriate characteristics, but rather a political system. In order to achieve that it will try to define the terms 'political system' and 'international organization' and then evaluate if the characteristics of those match with the European Union as a political actor.
The first term this paper would like to analyse is the expression 'international organization'. Following Rittberger and Zangl (2006) there are several characteristics of such institutions. First of all it is often said that through these establishments states often try to achieve aims that are in the national interest but not necessarily beneficial for all states and decisions which are made “primarily reflect the interests of the most powerful member states” (Rittberger and Zangl, 2006:6) Moreover international organizations are defined as “permanent institutions of conference diplomacy in which states may exchange information, condemn or justify certain actions and coordinate their national political strategies.” (Rittberger and Zangl, 2006:6) Despite emphasizing the member states and their national interests in the first two characteristics, international organizations are also marked by pooled or delegated sovereignty coming from the member states so that these institutions become “corporate actors” (Rittberger and Zangl, 2006:6) themselves. Furthermore the decisions are made by several states and “the crucial point here is that without the relevant organization decisions would not have been made in the same way.” (Rittberger and Zangl, 2006:6) However, the authors distinguish between “international regimes” and “international organizations”, saying that former only focus on one specific area of interest, for instance like the World Health Organisation which is concerned about health issues. Unlike those 'international regimes' 'international organizations' cover a lot more topics than only one area of interest.