A Comparative Overview of the Political Structures of European Nation States

This is an in-house training course. For further information and pricing contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.


Since the turn of the millennium, most Europe-facing civil service roles have involved dealing with EU institutions. This will remain an important aspect of many such roles and policy areas. But another increasingly significant element of dealing with Europe in the decade after 2020 will be interacting with individual European nation states.

This seminar has been designed to give participants a thorough understanding of how the government structures work in some of the countries that you are most likely to be interacting with.

The day provides an overview of the main kinds of different governmental structures, before going into detail on several countries to provide you with a professional level of expertise and knowledge.

The seminar can also be tailored to fit with your division or team’s precise requirements, if the European nations that you are primarily interacting with differ from those we present below.

Who is the seminar designed for?

This new seminar for the 2020s has been written for any civil servants who need to rapidly improve their working knowledge of how different European states’ structures of government work.

How will you benefit from attending?

You will develop an understanding of how different models of government work within Europe and you will acquire detailed knowledge of how several nation states’ systems of government work. This information will provide you with the expertise you need to interact most effectively with these countries’ governments and civil service organisations in your day-to-day role.

Learning outcomes

You will:

  • Understand the different models and systems of government and administration that exist in Europe
  • Understand which countries use similar and different systems of government, and what this means in practical terms for them and for you in your role
  • Analyse and learn how these different governmental structures impact on the processes of policy-formulation and government action in different countries
  • Develop a professional level of understanding of how several important nation states function, so that you can use this knowledge to improve your interaction with them at both individual and organisational levels
  • Understand how to interact with these countries to better effect in your current and future roles   


09:30 – 10:30 Characteristics of the Governance of European States

  • The structure of the democratic state
  • Separation of powers, executive, legislature, judiciary
  • Bi-cameral Parliament, independent civil service
  • Election cycles and characteristics
  • What were the Copenhagen criteria?
  • Interaction between central and local government in statute and practice
  • Interaction between the nation state and the European Union
  • Significant different models – Belgium, Germany (more detail later), Austria
  • Separatism and Independence Movements – Catalonia, Scotland
  • What is happening in Poland and Hungary?

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:00 France

  • The Structure of the State
  • Role and powers of the President
  • Role and powers of Prime Minister and interaction with President
  • How do elections work and what is the cycle?
  • The Executive – appointment of ministers not necessarily from Parliament
  • Who do ministers report to? (President or PM?)
  • Role and powers of Parliament and current state of the parties
  • Central and local government – powers, responsibilities and interaction
  • Who should you be interacting with? Discussion Session

12:00 – 13:30 Germany

  • The Structure of the State
  • Federal structure – to what extent, what does this mean in practice?
  • Role and powers of the Chancellor – how does the executive function?
  • Role and powers of Parliament
  • Role and powers of the Lander
  • State of the parties, trends, electoral cycles
  • Germany Post-Merkel – analysis and possible scenarios
  • Who should you be interacting with? Discussion Session

13:30 – 14:30 Lunch

14:30 – 15:45 Netherlands

  • The Structure of the State
  • Head of State (Queen), Prime Minister, Parliament
  • How does the governance model work? – The roles, responsibilities, powers and interaction between the centre and the provinces and municipalities in a decentralized unitary state
  • Law making and interaction in practice – characteristics of Dutch governance patterns
  • Current political trends and implications
  • Who should you be interacting with? Discussion Session

15:45 Final Discussion

16:00 Close

This is an in-house training course. For further information and pricing contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.

Our training seminars are based on

  • A vast reservoir of knowledge about effective, delivery-focused approaches that are designed to enable you to achieve better results in your place of work
  • Expert practitioner and thought-leader experience, covering a comprehensive range of practical knowledge and people skills, to help you to work more productively
  • International perspectives and experience, enabling transferability and applicability wherever in the world you are from

Our training team

  • Our L&D team have all had successful careers as practitioners in their fields of expertise. They bring their experience, knowledge and skills to support the professional development of other public servants
  • Our team all now work as professional trainers, blending practitioner experience with professionally designed L&D solutions
  • Between them, our team have provided training for more than 100,000 public servants from 120 countries

Our training ethos

  • We deliver people-focused training designed to help you perform better
  • We provide practical insights, based on years of experience about what works, combined with practical methods to help you to make it work effectively in your own organisation
  • We are here to help you to perform better

Trainer’s Biography

Professor Tim Bale, Professor of Politics, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London

As well as being Professor of Politics in SPIR, Tim is also Co-Director of Queen Mary’s Mile End Institute, and Deputy Director of the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe.

Tim graduated from Cambridge University. He has a Master’s degree from Northwestern University in the USA and he was awarded his PhD from Sheffield University’s politics department. He has taught at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, and then at Sussex University.

In 2008 he won the Political Studies Association’s Bernard Crick Prize for Outstanding Teaching. He has published several very successful books on different aspects of politics in the UK and Europe.

Tim has written for the Financial Times and The Guardian, and he has appeared on various BBC radio and television programmes.  Tim is a trustee of Democratic Audit and of the Social Market Foundation and he is also on the advisory board of the think tank, Bright Blue.

This is an in-house training course. For further information and pricing contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.