Representation and Democracy in the EU

A new special issue of the Journal of European Integration on 'representation and democracy in the EU: does one come at the expense of the other?' includes articles by Christopher Lord (with Johannes Pollak) and Ian Cooper.

The special issue is edited by Richard Bellamy and Sandra Kröger, who in their introductory article discuss representation deficits and surpluses in EU policy-making: 'Representation and democracy are not always complementary. Sometimes the one undermines the other. Too much democracy can create a representation deficit, as occurs when majorities oppress or neglect minorities. However, the opposite can also arise. The over representation of different groups can undermine the processes whereby representatives are authorised by and accountable to those they are supposed to serve. The EU offers multiple channels of representation. In some respects, this multiplicity reflects the diversity of the peoples, individuals and interests represented within the EU. Yet in overcoming a potential representation deficit in EU policy-making, this arrangement leads to a representation surplus and creates a democratic deficit.'

In their contribution, Christopher Lord and Johannes Pollak discuss the pitfalls of representation and claims-making in the EU. Ian Cooper in his article deals with national parliaments and representative democracy, suggesting that the Treaty of Lisbon endorses a 'tricameral' model of EU democracy.

The pitfalls of representation as claims-making

Abstract: Standard accounts assume that representatives are authorised and held accountable through elections in territorially defined constituencies. In contrast, claims-making approaches hold that representation does not always depend on an electoral connection. This paper argues that the claims-making approach addresses some of the difficulties in the standard account, but remains itself theoretically underspecified. This becomes especially clear when applied to systems with exceptional institutional complexity like the EU. As an alternative to both those other approaches, the paper proposes a revised claims-making approach in which rights claims are used to specify representative claims. It then shows how rights claims do, indeed, play an important role in the representative claims that are made in the European Union arena, and how that, in turn, allows the Union to deal with some of the problems of applying standard forms of representation to its decision-making.

The Pitfalls of Representation as Claims-Making in the European Union
Christopher Lord and Johannes Pollak
Journal of European Integration, Vol 35, No 5, pp 517-30
DOI: 10.1080/07036337.2013.799941

Bicameral or tricameral?

Abstract: The Treaty of Lisbon defines the European Parliament and the Council as the principal institutional actors of ‘representative democracy’ in the EU, thus endorsing an essentially ‘bicameral’ model of EU democracy. In this model, national parliaments focus their scrutiny on their governments’ conduct of EU affairs, but are not themselves EU-level actors. However, the Treaty of Lisbon also creates an Early Warning Mechanism which empowers national parliaments to intervene collectively in the EU’s legislative process. This suggests a new, ‘tricameral’ model in which national parliaments constitute the third chamber in a reconfigured representative system for the EU. This reconfiguration moves the EU away from traditional models of representative democracy and more towards a complex ‘demoi-cracy,’as it now has three bodies to represent the citizens, governments and peoples of Europe.

Bicameral or Tricameral? National Parliaments and Representative Democracy in the European Union
Ian Cooper
Journal of European Integration, Vol 35, No 5, pp 531-46
DOI: 10.1080/07036337.2013.799939


Journal of European Integration, Vol 35, No 5, 2013
Special Issue: Representation and Democracy in the EU: Does one come at the expense of the other?


Published July 2, 2013 10:59 AM - Last modified July 2, 2013 11:01 AM