EU’s democratic deficit in times of crisis

In case the advanced online publication on 5 August escaped your attention, it is worth recalling that the November issue of the Journal of Common Market Studies* includes contributions on ‘Reviewing the EU’s democratic deficit in times of crisis’. They stem from a workshop held at the Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies in October 2013. Below some highlights from the introduction and abstracts.

The contributions, as the guest editors Michael Blauberger, Sonja Puntscher Riekmann and Doris Wydra put it:

focus on the crisis’ implications for democracy in the EU and […] revisit the most popular ‘conventional wisdoms’ on the EU’s democratic deficit in light of the crisis.

The authors deal with some frequent assumptions on the EU’s democratic deficit:

  • On the question whether the European and national parliaments lack powers to ensure democratic legitimacy, Berthold Rittberger in Integration without Representation, captures the European Parliament’s struggle for empowerment in exchange for supranational integration; Katrin Auel and Oliver Höing, in Parliaments in the Euro Crisis, discuss a shift of power from domestic legislatures to the executive. Both articles reflect the recent de jure empowerment of Parliaments, against the background of crisis management de facto performed by Heads of State and executive agencies.
  • On the (missing?) politicization of EU issues, Richard Corbett in ‘European elections are second-order elections’, questions whether European elections still function according to standard ‘second order‘ model, after the Spitzekandidaten exercise. Zooming in to the national level with an analysis of inter-party debates in Austria and Germany, Eric Miklin in From ‘Sleeping Giant’ to Left–Right Politicization?, concludes that the crisis has only partly politicisized EU issues along a partisan dimension:

although in both countries the euro crisis was highly salient and there were quite different views among mainstream parties on how it should be dealt with, these differences – as expected – played a significant role only in Germany.

  • The lack of a European identity and public sphere as prerequisites for European democracy is questioned in No Demos? by Thomas Risse:

the Europeanization of national identities is sufficient to sustain carefully crafted (re-)distributive policies on the European level.

  • Finally, in From Regulatory State to a Democratic Default, Giandomenico Majone questions the one-sided emphasis on majoritarian democratic legitimacy in the EU and directs attention to regulatory legitimacy instead.

Think tanks also regularly discuss these topics, as in this recent paper by the German Centrum für Europäische Politik, in which the authors examine the new qualified majority voting rules in Council following the Lisbon Treaty from the point of view of the ‘one man – one vote’ principle, and argue that the rules do not solve the democratic deficit.

On this notion of ‘democratic deficit in the EU’, here are other materials available in our collection published since 2008, when the financial, economic and sovereign debt crisis started.

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