Democracy in the European Union: Integration through Deliberation?

Democracy in the European Union: Integration through Deliberation?

Democracy in the European Union: Integration through Deliberation?

Democracy in the European Union: Integration through Deliberation?


The European Union is widely held to suffer from a democratic deficit, and this raises a wider question: can democracy at all be applied to decision-making bodies beyond the nation state? Today, the EU is a highly complex entity undergoing profound changes. This book asks how the type of cooperation that the EU is based on can be explained; what are the integrative forces in the EU and how can integration at a supra-national level come about? The key thinkers represented in this volume stress that in order to understand integration beyond the nation state, we need new explanatory categories associated with deliberation because a supranational entity as the EU posesses far weaker and less well-developed means of coercion - bargaining resources - than do states. The most appropriate term to denote this is the notion of 'deliberative supranationalism'. This pioneering work, headed by major writers such as Habermas, Schlesinger and Bellamy, brings a new perspective to this key issue in contemporary politics and political theory.


The collapse of the Berlin Wall—an event which Archibugi, Held and Köhler find ‘now rivals the storming of the Bastille as a symbol of historical change’—marked the end of the Cold War and reinvigorated people’s faith in the merits of democracy. It also underlined the need for democracy and democratization across the world. It had repercussions of a more theoretical character, as well. It sparked renewed interest in the very concept of democracy and in how different kinds of decision-making processes can be organized democratically. An important contribution to theorizing has been labelled deliberative democracy, a mode of thinking which seeks to reconstruct democracy as governance based upon the public use of reason.

The optimism that was sparked in 1989 was not borne out in practice, in particular in the new democracies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, which have faced numerous setbacks and hardships since then. Further, the process of economic globalization has led many to seriously question the room for and the role of democratic politics. National control is undermined, as international movements of capital have greatly increased. Many people have become disillusioned, as a widened range of factors of vital importance to citizens and their well being, are no longer subject to democratic control.

Is democracy possible at all in this situation? If so, how can it be applied to decision-making bodies beyond the nation-state? It is in this regard that the establishment and widening of co-operation in Europe is of particular interest, both because it may be seen as an order particularly suited for handling globalization and also because it represents a form of voluntary but committing co-operation among democratic states.

Democracy, when considered from the vantage point of the deliberative perspective that is presented in this book, functions through the public discussion of important issues. Much of the literature on the eu portrays it as marked by technocracy, expert dominance and lack of transparency; bargaining and pork-barrelling between sectarian interests; and in general, as marked by lack of openness and political accountability. the European Union is also widely held to be a challenger, if not to the state, then at least to the nation. However, the eu is a dynamic entity and has increasingly taken on a set of supranational deliberative features. To a surprising degree it has shown itself capable of

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