REFLEX workshop on non-majoritarian institutions and democracy

The research project REFLEX will organize the workshop Making Non-Majoritarian Institutions Safe for Democracy on 20-21 June in Oslo. 

The European Banking Authority (EBA) is one of three supervisory authorities for the financial sector in the EU (photo: EBA)

The European Banking Authority (EBA) is one of three supervisory authorities for the financial sector in the EU (photo: EBA)

Knowledge-based decision-making is indispensable to modern democracies; they cannot function without delegating some tasks to knowledge-producing bodies that are politically sheltered. Expertise is needed to run bureaucracies and agencies as well as to explain and justify policies to the general public in whose name policies are pursued. Thus, modern government relies on the delegation of a wide range of tasks to non-majoritarian institutions (NOMIS), such as central banks, international institutions, and independent agencies. From financial regulation to environmental protection, expert bodies vested with public authority conduct work necessary for polities’ day-to-day functioning and long-term stability. The increasing power of NOMIS has raised concerns about the displacement of democratic authorization and control and the rise of epistocracy/technocracy. How can such concerns be addressed in terms of both accuracy and potential remedy?

There are many potential sources of legitimacy for NOMIS, such as participatory inclusiveness, claims to expertise, and exposure to accountability mechanisms. However, it is unclear what reasons support these measures and what they entail in practice. Is there a common conceptual frame that can help us assess the democratic responsiveness of these institutions?

Understanding these challenges requires insight into the way NOMIS are embedded in the political landscape. It is therefore necessary to have multi-disciplinary venue for discussing legitimacy concerns regarding such institutions. Only by a precise diagnosis of the threats NOMIS pose can we propose strategies for making them safe for democracy.

The workshop is organised as part of the REFLEX project at ARENA.


Thursday 20 June


Welcome and Coffee


Section 1

Chair: Alexander Katsaitis

Erik O. Eriksen

Making depoliticized decision making safe for democracy

Discussant: Joana Mendes

Andreas Eriksen

The accountability of independent agencies

Discussant: Chris Lord




Section 2

Chair: Trym Nohr Fjørtoft

Tobias Bach

Reputational threats and democratic responsiveness of regulatory agencies (With Marlene Jugl, Dustin Köhler, Kai Wegrich)

Discussant: David Demortain

Martino Maggetti

Reasserting the center of the nation state: How EU agencies reshape domestic policymaking (With Philipp Trein)

Discussant: Alexander Katsaitis




David Demortain

The organization of evidence: How agencies design decision-making procedures to project truth and objectivity

Discussant: Andreas Eriksen

Eva Krick

Between ‘scientisation’ and a ‘participatory turn’. Tracing shifts in the governance of policy advice (With Johan Christensen and Cathrine Holst)

Discussant: Kjartan Koch Mikalsen


End of day 1

Friday 21 June 




Section 3

Chair: Erik O. Eriksen

Torbjørn Gundersen

Scientific experts in unelected bodies: towards a pragmatic view of political and ethical values

Discussant: Eva Krick

Kjartan Koch Mikalsen

Expertise and the general will: Towards a more democratic republicanism

Discussant: Erik O. Eriksen




Alexander Katsaitis & Andreas Eriksen

Accountability through mutual attunement: Parliamentary hearings & agency oversight in the European Union

Discussant: Martino Maggetti

Joana Mendes

After legality: constitutive powers of the EU executive in financial regulation and their constitutional implications

Discussant: Andreas Eriksen




Section 4

Chair: Andreas Eriksen

Christopher Lord

Money as power. Implications for ECB Independence and Epistocracy

Discussant: Martino Maggetti

Trym Nohr Fjørtoft

Frontex, expertise, and the refugee crisis

Discussant: Tobias Bach


End of programme

Tags: Democracy, Expertise
Published May 10, 2019 3:14 PM - Last modified June 17, 2019 3:17 PM