New stories on the European Union's democratic deficit

Kyrieri, Katerina-Marina (2002) New stories on the European Union's democratic deficit. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The term 'democratic deficit' often masks an unjustified presupposition that the EU should follow similar democratic practices to those found in national arenas. Attempts to replicate national democratic Institutions tend to lead to unsatisfactory solutions at the EU level. A legitimate and democratic Union may involve innovations for which there are no precedents in national experiences of democratic politics.

In effect, this Thesis, "New Stories on the European Union's democratic deficit" reviews a range of theoretical discussions on democracy, legitimacy and European integration and suggests how these might be useful in framing practical proposals for institutional change at the EU level. These proposals envisage at the future direction and development of the EU towards a substantially democratic and legitimate Euro-polity under the conceptual and theoretical framework of a meta-national democracy.

The term meta-national suggests from the very beginning that the EU is not a State or a Super-State, and consequently its democratic dimensions should be judged at a different level, the European one. Under this concept, the Thesis further proceeds with analysing the fundamental issues of a growing democracy which consists of:

1) a system of multi-level governance, and not a government;

2) an autochthonous civic-value driven demos;

3) channels of civic and political participation at all levels, individual and collective;

4) elements of EU constitutionalism;

5) an on-going process of accountability;

6) a constructive process of transparency and openness.

This is only an indicative list of the many elements that can be generally attributed to the Union's continuing and growing democracy. They have particularly been selected as they involve recent changes and are currently supported by the White Paper on European Governance which in setting in motion a reform process responds to the author's expectations developed under the theoretical framework of a meta-national democracy.

Finally, under that same conceptual framework, the Thesis comes to the conclusion that the EU is democratic and enjoys legitimacy. By opening up the policy-making process to enable more people and civil society organisations to become actively involved in the shaping and delivering of EU policies, it offers real opportunities for deliberation and participation. Patterns of access and interwoven levels indicate the existence of a system of multi-level governance which in turn embraces the notion of a `polity'. It promotes a new understanding of a European demos (a politically organised people) which is not based on ethno-national and cultural affinities but rather on commonly shared civic values. In terms of assuring a high degree of popular legitimacy, it provides for a Bill of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which neatly combines the constitutional structure, based in the founding Treaties and the national constitutions of the EU Member States. It elevates openness and transparency to fundamental principles of Community law, yet, being of a

nascent constitutional character. Lastly, it promotes greater accountability and responsibility for those involved in the legislative and executive processes of the EU policy- making.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mowbray, A.R.
Szyszczak, E.
Keywords: european union, eu, ec, democracy, institutions, democratic deficit, politics, accountability, public administration
Subjects: J Political science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 11147
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2010 14:26
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2017 04:46

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