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European Integration as a Challenge to Political and Democratic Theory


In relation to 'comparative politics': The 'sui generis debate' ... More debate and contestantion about politics in the EU (for instance direct ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: European Integration as a Challenge to Political and Democratic Theory

European Integration as a Challenge to Political
and Democratic Theory
  • Morten Kelstrup
  • 22. October 2007

  • European integration as a challenge to political
  • How do we understand European integration?
  • How does EU function as a political system?
  • How can and shall EU be constructed?
  • European integration as a challenge to democratic
  • Criteria for democracy
  • The democracy dilemma
  • How can we think of democracy beyond the nation
  • The debate about EUs democratic deficit
  • How can EU become more democratic legitimate?
  • Democracy and EUs latest reform the Reform
  • Conclusions

Understanding European integration
  • What is European integration?
  • Different dimensions
  • Political integration
  • Political integration is the process whereby
    political actors in several distinct national
    settings are persuaded to shift their loyalties,
    expectations and political activities towards a
    new centre, whose institutions possess or demand
    jurisdiction over the pre-existing national
    states. The end result of a process of political
    integration is a new political community,
    superimposed over the pre-existing ones. (Haas,

Change in perspectives
  • How can European integration be explained?
  • Integration theories (functionalism, federalism,
    neofunctionalism, intergovernmentalism)
  • New questions and new developments in
    understanding integration
  • The governance turn in integration studies
  • How are we to understand the EU today?
  • EU can be regarded as a political system
  • A combination of multi level governance and
  • How are we to deal with the constructive and
    normative debate?

Wiener and Dietz (eds), 2004, p. 7
On EUs political system
  • The EU has developed as a political system
  • Basic features
  • There is a stable and clearly defined set of
    institutions for collective decision-making and a
    set of rules governing relations between and
    within these institutions.
  • Political input Citizens and social groups seek
    to realize their political desires through the
    political system, either directly of through
    intermediary organisations such as interest
    groups and political parties.
  • Political output Collective decisions in the
    political system have a significant impact on the
    distribution of economic resources and the
    allocation of social and political values across
    the whole system.
  • Feedback There is continuous interaction
    (feedback) between these political outputs, new
    demands on the system, new decisions and so on.
  • (Based on Hix, EUs Political System 2005, p.

The EU political system From Hix, 2005, p 6.
EU as a challenge central debates
  • In relation to international relations What
    kind of actor is the EU in international
  • A different kind of actor?
  • A normative and negotiating actor?
  • In relation to comparative politics
  • The sui generis debate
  • EU as political system which is not a state
  • The normative turn in the study of the EU
  • In relation to public management
  • Understanding the effects of Europe
  • Different dynamics in Europeanisation

EU as a challenge to democratic theory
  • On the understanding of democracy
  • Democracy as governing of the people, by the
    people and for the people
  • The protection of the citizens and civil society
    by the authorites (Hobbes) and also the
    protection of the citizens against the
    authorities (Locke)
  • The tension between societal and political
  • Many different models of democracy and
  • criteria

Varieties of democracy On the basis of David
Held Models of Democracy, 1987/97)
Criteria for democracy
  • Political democracy
  • 1) Participation (direct or through elections
    and representation)
  • 2) Competition (in elections and for positions)
  • 3) Protection (through constitutional control
    and/or checks and balance)
  • Societal democracy
  • 4) Participation (equal political rights and de
    facto participation)
  • 5) Competition (freedom of expression and free
    public debate)
  • 6) Protection (prevailing respect for each
    individual and their basic rights)  
  • Internal consistency
  • 7) Principle of people sovereignty the highest
    sovereignty is the people (as individuals or as a
  • 8) Principle of congruency those affected by
    political decisions should have influence on the
    decisions on which they depend. Political power
    should be accountable.

From Kelstrup, 1999, s. 95-96
Dimensions of democracy
From Kelstrup, 1999, 102
How are we to think about democracy in relation
to EU?
  • Can the different dimension be applied on the EU?
  • The democracy dilemma
  • The dilemma arises if one only thinks about
    democracy as linked to the state. The dilemma is
    that either democracy has to be linked to nation
    states (with the negative consequence that power
    beyond the nation state is not controlled
    democratically) or democracy has to be
    established on the European level as a
    state-formation (with the negative consequence
    that national democracies are undermined).
  • We need to think about democracy beyond the

On democracy in relation to the EU
  • Which elements of democracy can be extended
    beyond the nation state?
  • How can power be controlled in systems of
    multi-level governance?
  • Can the EU become more democratic legitimate
    without becoming a state?

EUs democratic deficit (Standard version, Hix
og Follesdal, 2006)
  • EU implies ..increase in executive power and a
    decrease in national parliamentary control
  • the European Parliament is too weak
  • there are no European elections
  • the EU is simply too distant from voters
  • European integration produces political drift
    from voters ideal policy preferences

Elements in the debate on EUs democratic deficit
  • There is no European people (the no
  • No common language, history, culture
  • Common identity?
  • Common, European public sphere?
  • Common electorate?
  • Common values?
  • Common political community?
  • Decision far away from the common citizen
  • Unsatisfactory participation/unequal
  • Unequal representation
  • Limits to EUPs position (low participation in
    European elections, elections secondary, no
    opposition, limits in competences)
  • Lack of possibility for change in
    government/the Council/the Commision through
  • Lack of collective responsibility in the Council
  • Insufficient openness?
  • A technocratic bias for the Commission?
  • Unclear rules on specific areas (Comitology?)
  • Too much left to independent bodies (the Court,
    ECB)? (Captured institutions?)
  • Bias in output for negative integration?

Simon Hix about EUs democratic deficit
  • The EU is not a representative democracy. We
    elect our governments, who negotiate on our
    behalf in Brussels, and decide who forms the
    EU-excecutive The Commission. However, national
    governments are the product of national electoral
    contests, about national issues, fought by
    national parties, and over the control of
    national governmental office. EP elections,
    moreover, are sub-products of this process. …
    EP-elections are fought as second-order national
    contests… In no sense, therefore, are Europes
    voters able to choose between rival programmes
    for Europe or through out those who exercise
    political power at the European level
  • Hix, 1999, 186

Andrew Moravcsik on EUs lack of democratic
  • My central contention here is that, if we adopt
    reasonable criteria for judging democratic
    governance, then the widespread criticism of the
    EU as democratically illegitimate is unsupported
    by the existing empirical evidence. …
    Constitutional checks and balances, indirect
    democratic control via national governments, and
    the increasing powers of the European Parliament
    are sufficient to ensure that the EU
    policy-making is, in nearly all cases, clean,
    transparent, effective and politically responsive
    to the demands of European citizens.

From Moravcsik, 2003, 79
Arguments and recommendations
  • Hix and Føllesdal
  • There is not electoral contests about the
    political leadership at the European level or the
    basic direction of the EU policy agenda
  • Recommendation Institutional reform, in
  • Open meetings in the Council
  • Debate about the political functions of the
  • More debate and contestantion about politics in
    the EU (for instance direct election af a
    president, increased polititization (European

Can EU in other ways increase its democratic
  • Improvements in legality?
  • Improvements in regard to identity and
    political community?
  • Improvements in regard to representative
    structures and accountability?
  • Improvement in output-legitimacy?
  • Improvements in direct and indirect legitimation?

Democracy and EUs latest reform the Reform
  • Historical development
  • From the community method to a
    semi-parliamentary system
  • Direct election of the European Parliamen (1979)
  • Increased competences, in particular 1986 and
  • The debate about legitimacy in the 1990s
  • The Maastricht Treaty and the Danish no
  • The Laken process
  • The Convention, the Constitutional Treaty and the
    following crisis
  • Paradox A democratic refusal of democratisation?

The formulations in the Reform Treaty about the
democratic principles (art. 8 EU, A, B and C)
  • Art. 8 EU The principle of democratic equality
  • Art. 8 A The principle of representative
    democracy, incl.
  • Representation in EUP
  • Right of citizens to participate
  • Establishment of politcal parties at the
    European level
  • Art. 8 B The principle of participatory
  • i.a. dialogue, hearings, petition-possiblity
  • Art. 8 C A stronger role to the national

  • European integration and the EU is in many
    ways a major challenge to political theory. Also
    to the different subdisciplins.
  • It is still a major challenge to understand the
    EU and its characteristics. One possibility is to
    characterise it as a political system.
  • EU is also a major challenge to democratic
    theory It is necessary to think about democracy
    beyond the nation state
  • There is no easy solution to compensation for
    EUs democratic deficit
  • The EU can become more democratic legitimate on
    several dimension without becoming a state-like
  • The Reform Treaty is a new compromise in EUs
    system of multi-level governance. It has some
    democratic features, but is not a solution to
    EUs problems with democracy