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What are the challenges facing the EU in its attempts to establish democratic institutional structures ?

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  1. Theorizing and achieving a model of democracy specific to the EU .
    1. The current picture: the blatant inadequacy of both supranational and intergovernmental models .
    2. The EU as a multi-level polity: conceptual and practical obstacles.
  2. From an elitist and functionnally fragmentated polity to an inclusive political community.
    1. The current picture: democratic legitimacy prevented by the 'cognitive deficit' and the unbalanced representation of societal interests.
    2. The challenge: towards an enhanced citizen?s involvment and a 'European social contract'?.

Democratic deficit of the European Union has been a long-standing debate. The statement by the European Commission summarizes this fact. "It is time to recognize that the European Union has moved from a diplomatic to a democratic process, with policies that reach deep into national societies and daily life". This statement by the European Commission subsumes ten years of political and academic on-going debate on the democratic deficit of the EU. The main trigger of this issue was the launch of political integration by Treaty of Maastricht. As a result, the democratization of the Union has been at the centre of all Treaty changes in the 1990s. This accounted for the urgent need felt by both political leaders and the EU bureaucrats for enhancing the legitimacy of the EU. The failure of the Constitution's ratification process shows how crucial it remains to identify the challenges facing the EU in its attempts to establish democratic institutional structures, if the former are to be addressed. This paper will argue that these challenges are related to the shift from an elitist structure based on Nation-States to a multi-level polity that includes all citizens.

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