Political Theory and the European Union: Legitimacy, Constitutional Choice and Citizenship

Political Theory and the European Union: Legitimacy, Constitutional Choice and Citizenship

Political Theory and the European Union: Legitimacy, Constitutional Choice and Citizenship

Political Theory and the European Union: Legitimacy, Constitutional Choice and Citizenship

Synopsis

The contributors to this book examine the issues of constitutional choice that face the governments and citizens of today's Europe. Divided into three sections this study addresses: questions of political legitimacy and the meaning of democratic deficit in the EU; the reality of what institutional reforms and decision making processes are possible; and the rights of citizenship and values that should be protected.

Excerpt

Ever since the European Union has come into existence on paper (i.e. after the Maastricht Treaty in 1992) its institutional shape as a trans-national political system has been hotly and intensively debated by politicians, journalists, parties, organised interests and, of course, citizens. This is quite comprehensible because more and more matters of common if not national interest are now slowly, but inevitably, influenced or actually under the aegis of EU decision-making.

Whereas the history of European co-operation was marked by economic interdependence and functional integration based upon the idea that intergovernmental decision-making was still, by and large, based on national sovereignty of the participating states involved. These states are, in turn, adequately controlled by their democratic institutions. However, one may well question whether or not this is also the case with respect to the institutional framework of the EU after its foundation as a political union.

Yet, and this is one of the purposes of this new volume of the Routledge/ECPR Studies in European Political Science series, the question of political accountability, responsiveness and legitimacy of the EU should not, and can not, be postponed. In other words: the much-used phrase of the ‘democratic deficit’ has become an urgent issue that must be addressed seriously, if and when all participating nation-states—recognised as ‘democratic’ systems—wish to develop the new union as a truly democratic system concurrent with their own national systems. This being the case a new situation is emerging: the debate of the EU as a political system implies an inevitable discourse regarding its future shape as a democratic union. It involves substantial discussion about the fundamental principles, which are conducive to the constitutional choices to be made in this respect.

Constitutional choices always involve the discussion of the leading principles underlying the organisation of decision-making, implementation and the accountability of those in control. This book attempts to structure this debate by discussing the weight and depth of democratic principles as regards crucial topics of organising a democratic EU. In addition, and this is a much-needed point of departure, the contributions share the view that insights generated by means of normative political theory must be combined with elements of institutional analysis. This is important because it compels the analyst to match ideas with practical solutions of organising the democratic polity of

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