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Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union; Will more parliamentarian influence increase the democratic legitimacy and diminsh the democratic deficit in the EU?

Orsmark, Charlotte (2004)
Department of Law
Abstract
This thesis aims to describe and examine the democratic deficit critique and the problems with democratic legitimacy in the EU's supranational system of governance. It specially addresses the role of the European Parliament and the national parliaments in the EU decision-making procedures. As parliaments traditionally, in liberal democracy theories, are considered strongholds and symbols of democratic legitimacy, directly representing the citizens, it is often argued that the way to enhance EU legitimacy and diminish the democratic deficit is through more parliamentarian influence. The question of democratic deficit and democratic legitimacy has become increasingly sensitive as European integration has progressed and the supranational... (More)
This thesis aims to describe and examine the democratic deficit critique and the problems with democratic legitimacy in the EU's supranational system of governance. It specially addresses the role of the European Parliament and the national parliaments in the EU decision-making procedures. As parliaments traditionally, in liberal democracy theories, are considered strongholds and symbols of democratic legitimacy, directly representing the citizens, it is often argued that the way to enhance EU legitimacy and diminish the democratic deficit is through more parliamentarian influence. The question of democratic deficit and democratic legitimacy has become increasingly sensitive as European integration has progressed and the supranational system has gained more importance for governance in the EU. More power have been transferred from the national parliaments to the Community and the use of QMV-voting increased which means that powers formerly subject to satisfactory degree of democratic control at the national level cease to be subject to the same degree of control once so transferred. At supranational level, there is no such representation of people as in the nation state and national democracies and the only way for the people to influence directly the decision-making procedures in the EU is through the European Parliament. Therefore, the phrase democratic deficit is often used to support arguments for increasing the powers of the European Parliament that still has limited power and influence. To define and assess the democratic legitimacy and democratic deficit in the EU we need to answer the question of the constitutional structure of the EU and the purpose and goals of the integration process. For this thesis, I have therefore decided to use the two dominated perspectives in the debate of today and the future of how to view the EU. One perspective sees the EU as a grouping of sovereign states for the purpose of international co-operation (state-based model). The other perspective believes that the EU is a new state-like political society that unifies the citizens of Europe in a new political and legal community where the question of sovereignty of the member states must be reassessed (citizen-based model). These views can moreover be seen to be in accordance with the two traditional systems of governance, confederations and federations. Depending on how we view the EU according to these models, different forms of governance and ideals for legitimacy and democracy will be required. According to the state-based model, it is through the Member States, which are all democratic states and enjoy political legitimacy, that the democratic legitimacy of the Union is based. Therefore, it is important that the sovereignty of the States remains and that the co-operation is merely on an intergovernmental level where the veto rights of the Member States remains important. The institutions that best represent the Member States are the national parliaments, which are the most important players in the EU. However, in the EU today, the national governments as represented in the Council are the main channels of communication between the EU and the Member States. The authority of the national governments and their Ministers in the Council is based on the indirect legitimacy that these Ministers are accountable to their respective parliaments. The intergovernmental institutions such as the Council and the European Council shall therefore remain powerful in the Community. The way to enhance the democratic legitimacy in the EU further is by giving the national parliaments enhanced possibilities to influences EU decision-making. The citizen-based theory wants democracy at European level and will never be satisfied with an institutional system that is based on indirect legitimacy. Instead, there must be direct channels in order to satisfy the principle of trust. This means that the EU must satisfy the same demands and the same institutional arrangements for direct legitimacy as the state, which would bring the EU closer to its citizens. As the European Parliament is the only institution directly authorised by the European electorate, an increase in the EP's powers will help to eliminate the democratic deficit and strengthen the democratic legitimacy. The amendments in Treaty provisions over the years have increased the EP's legislative and supervisory powers and have demonstrated that the European political system is evolving towards a parliamentary model in the EU's supranational governance. Nevertheless, as this theory wants to see an EP with the same powers as parliaments in the Member States, the EP should be vested with the sole power to enact EU legislation and maybe with the right of legislative initiative. Looking at structure of the EU today, the Union is neither a traditional international organisation, nor a traditional state-hood but rather a unique structure, with its supranational entity in itself and an international co-operation of states. This means that the EU must be considered as a unique construction, which makes its democratic legitimacy double, based of the Member States, as represented in the Council and the citizens, as represented in the EP. A solution to this double legitimacy would be to recognise different levels of governance within the EU and deal with those aspects of governance separately. In those cases of intergovernmental Community governance, it would be suitable to use the state-based theory's ideals of democracy and legitimacy and make sure of a strong role of the national parliaments, ensuring that they can hold their Minister accountable in the decision-making procedures. The supranational aspects of the EU could base its legitimacy and find its democracy ideals in the citizen-based theory, which leads to a demand for a strong role of the EP in those supranational decision-making procedures where majority voting is used. These ideas seem further to be in accordance with the recently signed ''Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe''. (Less)
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author
Orsmark, Charlotte
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Allmän rättslära, EG-rätt, Statsrätt
language
English
id
1561037
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:27
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:27
@misc{1561037,
  abstract     = {This thesis aims to describe and examine the democratic deficit critique and the problems with democratic legitimacy in the EU's supranational system of governance. It specially addresses the role of the European Parliament and the national parliaments in the EU decision-making procedures. As parliaments traditionally, in liberal democracy theories, are considered strongholds and symbols of democratic legitimacy, directly representing the citizens, it is often argued that the way to enhance EU legitimacy and diminish the democratic deficit is through more parliamentarian influence. The question of democratic deficit and democratic legitimacy has become increasingly sensitive as European integration has progressed and the supranational system has gained more importance for governance in the EU. More power have been transferred from the national parliaments to the Community and the use of QMV-voting increased which means that powers formerly subject to satisfactory degree of democratic control at the national level cease to be subject to the same degree of control once so transferred. At supranational level, there is no such representation of people as in the nation state and national democracies and the only way for the people to influence directly the decision-making procedures in the EU is through the European Parliament. Therefore, the phrase democratic deficit is often used to support arguments for increasing the powers of the European Parliament that still has limited power and influence. To define and assess the democratic legitimacy and democratic deficit in the EU we need to answer the question of the constitutional structure of the EU and the purpose and goals of the integration process. For this thesis, I have therefore decided to use the two dominated perspectives in the debate of today and the future of how to view the EU. One perspective sees the EU as a grouping of sovereign states for the purpose of international co-operation (state-based model). The other perspective believes that the EU is a new state-like political society that unifies the citizens of Europe in a new political and legal community where the question of sovereignty of the member states must be reassessed (citizen-based model). These views can moreover be seen to be in accordance with the two traditional systems of governance, confederations and federations. Depending on how we view the EU according to these models, different forms of governance and ideals for legitimacy and democracy will be required. According to the state-based model, it is through the Member States, which are all democratic states and enjoy political legitimacy, that the democratic legitimacy of the Union is based. Therefore, it is important that the sovereignty of the States remains and that the co-operation is merely on an intergovernmental level where the veto rights of the Member States remains important. The institutions that best represent the Member States are the national parliaments, which are the most important players in the EU. However, in the EU today, the national governments as represented in the Council are the main channels of communication between the EU and the Member States. The authority of the national governments and their Ministers in the Council is based on the indirect legitimacy that these Ministers are accountable to their respective parliaments. The intergovernmental institutions such as the Council and the European Council shall therefore remain powerful in the Community. The way to enhance the democratic legitimacy in the EU further is by giving the national parliaments enhanced possibilities to influences EU decision-making. The citizen-based theory wants democracy at European level and will never be satisfied with an institutional system that is based on indirect legitimacy. Instead, there must be direct channels in order to satisfy the principle of trust. This means that the EU must satisfy the same demands and the same institutional arrangements for direct legitimacy as the state, which would bring the EU closer to its citizens. As the European Parliament is the only institution directly authorised by the European electorate, an increase in the EP's powers will help to eliminate the democratic deficit and strengthen the democratic legitimacy. The amendments in Treaty provisions over the years have increased the EP's legislative and supervisory powers and have demonstrated that the European political system is evolving towards a parliamentary model in the EU's supranational governance. Nevertheless, as this theory wants to see an EP with the same powers as parliaments in the Member States, the EP should be vested with the sole power to enact EU legislation and maybe with the right of legislative initiative. Looking at structure of the EU today, the Union is neither a traditional international organisation, nor a traditional state-hood but rather a unique structure, with its supranational entity in itself and an international co-operation of states. This means that the EU must be considered as a unique construction, which makes its democratic legitimacy double, based of the Member States, as represented in the Council and the citizens, as represented in the EP. A solution to this double legitimacy would be to recognise different levels of governance within the EU and deal with those aspects of governance separately. In those cases of intergovernmental Community governance, it would be suitable to use the state-based theory's ideals of democracy and legitimacy and make sure of a strong role of the national parliaments, ensuring that they can hold their Minister accountable in the decision-making procedures. The supranational aspects of the EU could base its legitimacy and find its democracy ideals in the citizen-based theory, which leads to a demand for a strong role of the EP in those supranational decision-making procedures where majority voting is used. These ideas seem further to be in accordance with the recently signed ''Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe''.},
  author       = {Orsmark, Charlotte},
  keyword      = {Allmän rättslära,EG-rätt,Statsrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union; Will more parliamentarian influence increase the democratic legitimacy and diminsh the democratic deficit in the EU?},
  year         = {2004},
}