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The Democratic Deficit in the EU

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Analysis of the classical theories.
    1. The (neo)neofunctional approach.
    2. The federalist perspective.
    3. An intergovernmentalist perspective.
  3. Necessity of a new type of democracy at the supranational level.
    1. The new governance analysis: A 'non-majoritarian' democracy.
    2. The network model: Increase the participation of the people.
    3. A competitive democracy: A demos-building.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

For years, the European construction appeared to be legitimate through a 'permissive consensus' since no significant opposition to the integration process was to be noticed. Nevertheless, a major debate underlined a 'democratic deficit' in the 1980s, denouncing that the European Community had been built without the people. Indeed, at the beginning of the integration process, neo-functionalists, such as Monnet, who were actively engaged in the building of the EU, did not see the necessity to include the people in this project. For instance, Mitrany, who theorized functionalism, had a technocratic planning vision of the European Community implying a government by experts, which was consequently undemocratic (Sewell, 1966, p.42). Nevertheless, essentially since the ratification of the Maastricht treaty and the debate it created, European issues became politicised. From this point, the public increased its interest towards the EU and was willing to participate in the integration process.

[...] Indeed, European elections are generally not fought on European issues, because national parties treat them as ?second order national contests'. As a result, the EP does not benefit from a democratic mandate for a legislative majority to redistribute resources through EU legislation and capture the regulatory agencies and the Commission. Increasing the power of the EP as prescribed by the standard interpretation of the democratic deficit may reduce rather than increase EU legitimacy (Scharpf p.138). Nevertheless, as several theorists explain (i.e. Schmitter, Weiler) there are other ways to introduce competition and choice into the EU process. [...]

[...] He denounces the fact that many analyse the EU in ideal and isolated terms comparing the EU with an ancient, Westminster style form of deliberative democracy. Yet, this analysis neglects the multi- level political system in which the EU acts and the fact that the EU remains a banal international organisation. (Moravcsik p.603-5) In his demonstration, he rejects the idea that the EU would be a technocratic superstate by underlying its respect of democratic criteria. He illustrates his point of view through several arguments: A. The EU is not a superstate 1. [...]

[...] Nevertheless, as Jachtenfuchs underlines models of democracy developed in the national context are not easily transferable to the European Union and such a transfer would not necessarily lead to a more democratic EU and to an increase in its legitimacy (1997, p.6). As a result, original solutions must be applied to the EU to reduce the democratic deficit (part. II) II. Necessity of a new type of Democracy at the supranational level The second broad position holds that it is inappropriate to judge the democratic legitimacy of the EU by standards derived from national parliamentary democracy. [...]

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