The EU and Post-National Legitimacy

This paper denounces the perception of pre-political community attachment as a requisite for political integration; instead it delineates a post-national model of European democracy, built upon individual rights and citizenship and shared legitimacy between the national and EU levels.

ARENA Working Paper 26/2000 (html)

Erik Oddvar Eriksen and John Erik Fossum

Much of the research on the legitimacy deficit of the EU is premised on the notion that pre-political elements such as a collective identity are needed to bring about social and political integration. A community-based sense of attachment provides the necessary basis for winners to compensate losers, and is required for majority voting to work. Save such elements, the prospects for wider European integration seem rather bleak. The deliberative perspective focuses on the manner in which integration is fostered by legal procedures and communicative processes between and among contestants, thus enhancing shared understanding and consent. The EU is a non-coercive and consent based system where unanimous voting procedures coincide with more complex procedures and processes to foster democratic legitimacy. The basic structure of the EU is derived from the structure of governance already in place in well-developed democratic states. The idea of the democratic Rechtsstaat yields the standards of assessment. However, the abstraction needed for legitimate post-national integration depends upon the institutional means whereby human beings are actually addressed as citizens of the larger political order.

Tags: European identity, deliberative democracy, legitimacy
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM