Legitimacy Theories of the European Union

This paper gives an evaluation of normative theory on the EU's legitimacy, taking the Maastricht Treaty and its public reception as point of departure.

ARENA Working Paper 15/2004 (pdf)

Andreas Føllesdal

Until the Maastricht Treaty, European governments had long pursued European integration on the working assumption of a "permissive consensus" by the public. The popular and legal challenges to the Maastricht Treaty questioned the legitimacy of further integration.Normative political theory has responded to this legitimacy crisis by means of normative reasoning addressing concepts, arguments and theories regarding the substantive normative standards for the Europen political order, institutions and policies. After a brief overview of the reception of the Treaty on European Union in Section1, Section 2 explores the different views found in this literature regarding symptoms, diagnosis and medication. Section 3 provides a taxonomy of conceptions, mechanisms and objects of legitimacy. Section 4 presents a unifying perspective that may accommodate many of these various contributions. It focuses on the need for trust and trustworthiness to explore how the perceived normative legitimacy affects present compliance and long term popular support for the European Union. The chapter concludes by reviewing several central areas of normative research in addressing - and perhaps alleviating - such legitimacy deficits.

Tags: legitimacy, polity building, Treaty on European Union, integration theory
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM