Democracy and Legitimacy in the EU: Challenges and Options
John Erik Fossum
It is widely held that the EU suffers from a democratic deficit, but there is no agreement on the specific nature of the deficit. In this paper, I start by specifying the nature of the democratic-legitimacy problem facing the multilevel EU. Two dimensions, the institutional-constitutional and the socio-cultural, are highlighted. Next, I discuss how the context of crisis has transformed the EU. The many crises and their handling have not only exacerbated but also to a considerable extent altered the democratic-legitimacy problems facing the EU. In order to best capture these changes, it is useful to operate with several possible democratic decisionmaking configurations. These are presented and assessed in terms of how well they capture the present challenges facing the EU. In the last part I discuss specific reform options and what they may imply for the Union’s democratic deficit.
This paper was first published as IAI Working Paper 16/01 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome.