The constitutional-democratic dimension

The EU is frequently held to harbour a democratic deficit. In this work package ARENA ask: Can the EU become democratic? If so, what form might this take?

Can the new political order be sustained in democratic terms, and can it achieve constitutional unity? What are its implications for the existing forms of (sub)national democracy? What are its democratizing or undemocratizing dynamics?

The theoretical challenge pertaining to the prospects for democracy beyond the nation-state is to establish the minimum requirements for democracy. Democracy requires both a polity and a forum. It requires authoritative institutions with an organised capacity to make binding decisions and to allocate resources. It also requires common communicative spaces located in civil society, where the citizens can jointly form opinions and put the power-holders to account. Democratic legitimacy cannot stem from direct participation in law-making as the people is never present to make the choices. The question is therefore which kinds of institutional orders, deliberative procedures and representative mechanisms can warrant the presumption of legitimately acceptable results. We ask what democratic effects, if any, do conventional measures such as representative bodies, parties and parliamentarisation, and unconventional mechanisms such as the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) and other forms of soft law co-ordination, have?

The European Union is a novel type of entity whose principled and constitutional status is ambiguous and incomplete and whose underlying telos is not clear. Can there be a constitution without a state and a people? Are the dual processes of EU constitutionalisation and Europeanization of national constitutions likely to foster supranational democracy? This study of the constitutionalisation of the EU will yield vital information on the prospects for supranational democracy in Europe. Do these processes speak to a national, European, or perhaps even cosmopolitan model of democracy? How does the EU fare when compared to other multinational and polyethnic entities such as Canada?

Published Oct. 5, 2010 5:07 PM - Last modified July 5, 2012 2:22 PM