What legitimate role for Euro-citizens?
This paper debates the different strands of thought embedded in democratisation of the European Union. One logical starting point is that a closely integrated Union must entail a common public sphere with a say in European affairs.
ARENA Working Paper 24/2002 (html)
Johan P. Olsen
While there is no consensus on whether it is possible and desirable to democratise Europe, or on the meaning, significance and application of democratic standards in the governance of the Union, democratic themes have since Maastricht become a more central part of the EU agenda.
From a democratic perspective, the standards used to assess legitimate participation should reflect what European citizens want Europe to be, what they want to have together as Europeans and how they want to be governed. The legitimate role for Euro-citizens in the governance of Europe then depends on how the Union’s future political order is envisioned. The more the Union is moving away from a special purpose organization with limited tasks, responsibilities and powers, and transforming itself into a full-blown polity, the more important to assess the democratic quality of its political organization and system of governance. This paper discusses the project of democratising the EU. A key aspect of such democratisation must be to what degree citizens on an equal basis can influence their life chances and the development of the Union through participation in the governance of common affairs.
A later version of this article was published in Comparative European Politics, 1: 91-110, 2003.