Decision-making Void of Democratic Qualities? An Evaluation of the EU’s Second Pillar Decision-making Procedure

Anne Elizabeth Stie has published the article 'Decision-making Void of Democratic Qualities? An Evaluation of the EU’s Second Pillar Decision-making Procedure' in a special issue of the European Integration Online Papers.


The EU’s foreign and security policy is often criticised for being undemocratic. In this article, this contention is addressed from the perspective of deliberative democracy. The focus is on the procedural qualities of the second pillar decision-making processes as it is not only the quality of the outcomes that determine the democratic legitimacy of policy-making, but also the way that decisions have come about. Against five criteria, the EU’s second pillar procedure is assessed for its putative lack of democratic qualities. The analysis shows that not only does the second pillar lack parliamentary input, but the procedural set-up also violates basic democratic principles. There is no democratic deliberative forum to which citizens have access and where decision-makers must justify their positions. There is a serious absence of democratically elected participants to counter the vast number of bureaucrats, and the level of secrecy through which decisions are made is almost absolute. Furthermore, there is no separation of powers due to the fact that the same working groups prepare the second pillar items for both the Council and European Council, allowing the two bodies to lead an almost symbiotic coexistence. This impermeable unity controls agenda-setting, policy-formulation and execution, and hence also escapes both parliamentary and judicial scrutiny.
Published Dec. 9, 2010 1:47 PM - Last modified Dec. 9, 2010 1:54 PM