In chapter 1 the European Union was described as a political entity, not a state, in search of democratic legitimacy. To determine whether the Union is making headway in that search, this and the following chapters will examine how democratic EU government has become.
For a political entity to be democratic it must have a democratic government, comply with the requirement of good governance, and do its utmost to involve its citizens in the political process. Democratic government and good governance are twin concepts: the first refers to the organization of public power in a democratic fashion, that is, in a way that makes it answerable to the people; the second refers to the exercise of public power in the pursuit of the public good and justice for all. Both democratic government and good governance entail respect for the rule of law and compliance with the proper procedures. They also require an open government aimed at making citizens and civil servants feel responsible for the common good and keeping them well informed through access to public documents and the media. The subjects discussed in this and the following chapters are thus accountable government (this chapter), the rule of law (chapter 3), good governance (chapter 4), and responsible citizens, open government, and the media (chapter 5).
As in Chapter 1, I will now, and in the following three chapters, focus on the first pillar rather than the second and third. It is indeed under the first pillar that the integration process, driven by a strong executive, the EU Commission, has advanced the farthest, and, accordingly, that accountability, submission to the rule of law, good governance, and open government are most needed.
For a government to be democratic, it must emanate from the people and be answerable to the people. In a representative democracy, this means that the people are represented by men and women elected by universal suffrage and thus empowered to make binding legislation. In a democratic system the executive
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Publication information: Book title: The European Union: A Polity of States and Peoples. Contributors: Walter Van Gerven - Author. Publisher: Stanford University Press. Place of publication: Stanford, CA. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 62.
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