Legitimizing The European Union Beyond Democratic Deficit Politics Essay

The inquiry of whether or non the European Union ( EU ) suffers from a “ democratic shortage ” is non new: With about every pact or pact reform, the purpose of increasing the degree of democracy at the Union degree has been expressed.[ 1 ]Get downing with the Treaty of Maastricht, a more supranational character of the EU was enforced and this triggered a argument on the democratic legitimacy of the Union.

Still today the argument continues as the function of the EU in the international sphere is in the procedure of switching and the alterations brought approximately by the Lisbon Treaty are easy get downing to demo consequence. The Union has clearly engaged in a procedure towards a more federal character but is still far from going the equivalent of a state province. Therefore it is questionable if the regulations that apply to a national democracy should besides be valid at the EU degree.

This paper will look into the perceptual experiences of a “ democratic shortage ” against the existent possibilities and bounds of legitimization at the European degree to demo that the European Union does non turn out major weaknesss refering a “ democratic end product ” .

After specifying the footings of “ democracy ” and “ democratic shortage ” , criterions of measuring democracy at the European degree will be discussed with a particular focal point on derived criterions. The recent argument on the Roma issue and the proposal for? and will be addressed in order to demo that the Union is non enduring from a democratic shortage but challenged by different jobs, such as? . A decision will briefly reexamine the options for deciding the current challenges of legitimacy and propose countries for farther research.

A alone instance: democracy and its criterions at the European degree

The bing definitions of “ democracy ” vary widely, although many bookmans tend to trust on the celebrated words from Abraham Lincoln ‘s Gettysburg reference, specifying democracy as: “ authorities of the people, by the people, for the people ” .[ 2 ]This besides agrees with the actual interlingual rendition from the Grecian “ demos ” , the people, and “ kratein ”[ 3 ], regulation. However, what is more of import is the executing of such a definition and more exactly: is it truly the people that need to govern in order to hold a legitimized policy end product?

As Majone argues, specifying the degree of democracy in the EU is over all a inquiry of criterions.[ 4 ]He refers to three different types of criterions: national, societal and derived criterions of democracy.[ 5 ]This paper is based on the strong belief that derived criterions are the most appropriate to be applied in the instance of the EU. This is due to the fact that at the current phase, the EU is still extremely trusting on the national degree for the execution of policies and besides for legalizing its democratic being. Many research workers take on a alleged “ socio-psychological position ”[ 6 ], mentioning to the demand for a European “ demos ” in order to react to the democratic shortage.[ 7 ]But in the current state of affairs it is really improbable that we will happen a incorporate European people shortly. Still the Member States provide the EU with democratic legitimacy. EXAMPLE. The freshly implemented citizens ‘ enterprise is merely one illustration of steps that the EU wants to set about in order to let the European people to be heard more expeditiously.

Representation versus democratic nature

The quality of democracy and democratic legitimization

The dimensions of what can be considered as a possible “ democratic shortage ” are multiple and complex. Even the current research diverges greatly on a definition of this term.[ 8 ]In really wide footings the undermentioned definition outlines the character of the impression: “ The term denotes a sensed lack in the manner a peculiar political agreement works in pattern against a benchmark as to how it is supposed to work in theory. ”[ 9 ]

Specifying the province of EU democracy is straight linked to the challenge of specifying the nature of the Europium: Merely if an understanding on the conclusiveness of the Union is achieved can the inquiry of the democracy at EU degree be solved one time and for all. So far there has been no such development.[ 10 ]Definitions of Majone ( “ Regulatory civil order ” ) or Moravcsik ( “ spread ‘governance system ‘ “ ) , I prefer to see the EU as “ an organized synarchy of entwined sovereignties ” .[ 11 ]The inquiries that need to be addressed concern the democratic legitimacy of the European Institutions and theirs mechanisms.[ 12 ]

When applied to the EU, criterions of democratic representation seem to neglect[ 13 ]: Delegates can move against the will of their authoritiess, the European Parliament as the “ voice of the people ” is excessively weak, national issues seem to rule the result of the election to the EP, the Union as a whole remains to distant from electors and the involvement from big companies seem to count more than the benefits of the European citizens.[ 14 ]

But most of those points of review can be countered. With every Treaty reform, the EP has grown stronger and it will most surely evolve with the most recent alterations of the Lisbon Treaty.[ 15 ]However, what tends to be left out in treatments is the fact that there is a deficiency of involvement at the citizen ‘s degree to take part further in the policy devising procedure. With European Politicss there are ever victors and also-rans but? The inquiry remains if greater public engagement in the political procedure will really increase the support for the EU and its establishments.[ 16 ]Moravcsik argues that the low grade of public engagement in the European policy procedure is non due to the “ deficiency of chance ” but to the “ deficiency of saliency ” .[ 17 ]But saliency can non be the issue when the existent job is a non-existing argument at the citizens ‘ degree.[ 18 ]

Approaching the democratic shortage: current developments

With the Lisbon Treaty, of import stairss towards an increased democratic legitimacy were taken by “ ( 1 ) beef uping the European Parliament ; ( 2 ) increasing the engagement of national legislators ; and ( 3 ) presenting elements of direct democracy ” .[ 19 ]It is still to be seen if these alterations will really turn to the democratic shortage. But the outlooks are low as the pact “ lacked the democratic vision that might hold ( rhenium ) ignited the populace ‘s involvement in EU personal businesss. ”[ 20 ]

As Hix provinces, it is non plenty to implement the right set of regulations.[ 21 ]There has to be an inducement at the citizens ‘ degree to really do usage of them.

Two current issues clearly outline the thesis statement that a ) the democratic shortage can be addressed and B ) that the policy result is in some sense less democratic but more representative than if the whole of the European people would “ govern ” . Those issues are the argument on the Roma state of affairs and the proposal by Commissioner Reding for a program towards?

The reaction to the Gallic Roma issue showed how democratic legitimization and representative policy end product do non needfully travel in line. The democratically legitimated Gallic Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy started throw outing? of Roma from France, directing them back to? .

European commissioner for justness, Viviane Reding, who is non legitimized by the European citizens, did in fact guarantee the protection of minority rights by knocking Sarkozy ‘s actions publicly and by?

The economic and political challenges that have to be faced today cross national boundaries and[ 22 ]

Merely on 28 October 2010, Commissioner Viviane Reding presented a program to prosecute the European citizens more in European personal businesss by suggesting them[ 23 ]

Positions: claiming legitimacy

The integrating processes at the European degree returns at a high gait compared to other comparable procedures as for illustration the creative activity of supranational power in the United States of America.[ 24 ]It is hence in the involvement of institutional design to give the alterations by the Lisbon Treaty clip to be steadfastly implemented before taking on much farther action refering the “ democratic shortage ” of the Union.

The challenge does non lie in doing the establishments more democratic but in fact in shuting the spread between the citizens ‘ involvement, their engagement in European personal businesss and the docket puting at a national degree.

Hix proposes to work out the legitimacy job of the EU by presenting clear right and left party lines and an resistance to the EU authorities.[ 25 ]In my sentiment this solution is excessively drastic. A alteration in the electoral system is neither the lone nor the best solution to beef up the democratic character of the EU. Other research workers such as Scharpf see this even as a “ hazardous ”[ 26 ]suggestion.

I agree with Majone ‘s statement that some countries of European political relations are better dealt with on a supranational degree without the engagement of the people[ 27 ]

Majone ‘s statement in bend is besides excessively far-reaching: Sing the “ democratic shortage ” as a “ category error ”[ 28 ], he states that the European citizen does non desire and necessitate to be farther involved in the democratic procedures. This is merely partially true: Even if a greater representation of the European people is non needed it is still something that should be strived for in general. It is non sufficient to supply mechanisms such as the citizens ‘ enterprise without supplying the mean European with adequate day-to-day political information at the EU degree that will really trip his involvement in take parting. Hence, the actions taken on by Commissioner Viviane Reeding are indicating into the right way.

The system of “ cheques and balances ” is implemented within the EU institutional system, leting[ 29 ].


The European Union does non needfully necessitate an addition in transparence: Already, more internal paperss are available at EU degree than in most national provinces.[ 30 ]The existent challenge lies in uncovering the bing legitimization and rendering the benefits of engagement in the policy procedure seeable.

The application of the alleged “ derived criterions ” can be confirmed in line with the debate of Chryssochoou: “ The general appraisal is that the EU still remains closer to a system of democracies than to a democratic civil order in its ain right. ”[ 31 ]Therefore, the chief beginning of democratic answerability is derived from national authoritiess.[ 32 ]Equally long as a more federal character of the EU is non emerging, the Member States will stay the indispensable beginning of democracy at the European degree. As a united European “ demos ” far from exists, the latter can besides non be realised in the close hereafter.

The low electoral turnouts during the last elections[ 33 ]show that there is presently no inducement at the citizens ‘ degree to take part to a greater extent in the political determinations. Citizens used to see “ the EU and its establishments an acceptable but reasonably uninteresting portion of the political landscape, has now been called into inquiry ” .[ 34 ]

Nothing could be more unsafe for the hereafter of an eventual Euro-democracy than to hold it thrust upon a people that is non prepared to exert it, and that continues to believe its involvements and passions are best defended by national non supranational democracy.[ 35 ]

To decide the issue of the democratic shortage, more treatment in national parliaments is needed. This will finally take to beef uping their competency on European policy devising. It is important that the argument on European issues does non go on above the caputs of the citizens, even if this means that decision-making procedures will be more clip devouring. Most significantly, the alterations that should be brought approximately have to be modest. Sing the negative reaction towards an EU Constitution, it should be obvious that neither the institutional system nor the European Citizens are ready for a drastic alteration towards an ideal democracy.