Democracy, legitimacy and the European Union
Abstract: As the interdependence of political entities has increased, the capacity of single nation-states to solve important problems has diminished. Within the fields of crime, migration, the economy, and the environment, for example, it appears that co-operation among nation-states offers the only effective means of dealing with pressing issues. New sites of governance beyond the nation-state have thus been established to compensate for the loss of problem-solving capacity at the national level. The greater the significance of these new sites of governance, the greater the need for democratic processes to render their decisions legitimate. But is it possible to implement and sustain democratic and legitimate governance beyond the nation-state?The European Union is the most powerful of the new sites for governance beyond the nation-state. The EU has evolved from an international regime into an economic, social, and political union. Through a number of treaty reforms, the institutions of the Union have been entrusted with a wide range of legislative, executive, and judicial competencies. But has the democratic quality of EU decision-making improved as the powers of its institutions have increased?This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the democratic status of the EU political system and the Union's alleged legitimacy crisis. It also examines six different positions on how to address the EU's democratic deficit. Three of these defend the status quo, while the others are calling for democratisation. By examining the strengths and weaknesses of these positions, this book contributes to our understanding of whether it is possible and desirable to democratise the European Union.
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