Since the beginning of the 90's and the end of the permissive consensus, the democratic deficit of the European Union has increasingly become high on the agenda of scholars and decision-makers. Defined as the growing dissonance between the essential requirements of modern democratic governments and actual conditions of EU management(Chryssochoou 2003, 366), this democratic deficit undoubtedly shed light on the EU legitimacy. What is the nature of the problem and how can it be solved?
The main democratic criteria traditionally refer to the accountable, transparent, and representative character of the ruling political institutions as well as the support of the people (Eriksen and Fossum 2002, 401). If the parliament as a deliberative and representative political body of decision-making central is thus central to legitimate working of the EU (Gabel 2003, 290), the strength and the support of the public sphere are also strongly constituent of the democratic dynamic of such a institutional and political entity.
As pointed by Chryssochoou (2003, 366-374), the democratic deficit of the EU can be thus seen through an institutional perspective, the lack of power of the European Parliament, and through a socio-psychological perspective, the weakness of the support of the people. Both perspectives are actually strongly related to each other: the effective power of the Parliament improves the support of the people while this increasing support reinforces the legitimacy and the position of the legislative body.
[...] Actually, even if the Parliament can try to improve its working and its image, the likelihood to develop further its role and its support lies in the hands of the Member States themselves. As pointed by Erikson and Fossum (2002, 414), the EU is above all based on two conflicting legitimacy, the one of states and the one people; what can undoubtedly enhance the emergence of a “European demos” (Chryssochoou 2003, 373-374) through the reducing of parliamentary deficit is the existence and the convergence of a political will among the EU member states to do so. [...]
[...] paper is that the twofold democratic deficit of the EU depends mainly on the political weakness and the lack of visibility of the EU Parliament and I conclude that the institutional move is prevent by elite conservatism. The paper is divided in three sections: the first section studies the lack of power of the EP; the second shows the consequences of this weakness in terms of public sphere support; lastly the third section explores the influence of the configuration of power in terms of media visibility and opinion formation. [...]
[...] Thus reducing the “institutional” deficit can be seen as a primary precondition so that improves the EP media visibility and the EP influence on opinion formation, and thus, can be seen as a primary, if not necessary condition to reduce the “socio-psychological deficit” and promote a “European demos” (Chryssochoou 2003, 373-374). This however implies the existence and convergence of a political will among EU member states, political will which is far from emerging as soon as the national logic and sovereignty will prevail over the European popular sovereignty. References - Chryssochoou Dimitris [...]
[...] Moreover, the uncertainty and passivity of the latter sheds light on the democratic dynamic and authority of the EU. As pointed by Gabel (2003, 290), a strong and supportive public sphere as a source of legitimacy is indeed likely to affect the political agenda and the behaviour of policy-makers as well as institutional change. Conversely the absence of public commitment and leverage can lead to a status quo, particularly resulting, in the case of EP role, in any improvements since neither the European Council nor the Commission are directly accountable. [...]
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