European Democratic Deficit

European governance will have to rely more on efficiency than on participation due to the same effects that partially caused integration, namely globalization. Output legitimacy will be the new basis of democracy. However, input legitimacy cannot be totally disregarded; it needs to be determined how much and when democratic means are necessary. The EU still must come up with reforms such as enhancing public discourses. GLOBALIZATION or, as some political scientists prefer calling it, denationalization is affecting all sectors of society, from the economic to the political.

Whilst most people tend to consider this phenomenon as "a good thing," it also brings about several challenges. This paper aims at investigating those posed to one specific field, namely to the notion of democracy as effective collective self-determination, given that national political systems loose their autonomy to reach certain political goals as their options are directly influenced by the decisions taken by other states. To some extent, European integration was a collective effort of national states to cope with these challenges of globalization.

But whilst integration made effectiveness (output legitimacy) easier to achieve, democratic input (input legitimacy) became more difficult. This has lead to the wide-hypothesized assumption that the European Union (EU) suffers from a democratic deficit that undermines the well-functioning of legitimate democracy. However, I will argue that due to the lack of a European demos, full democratization is not only impossible to achieve, but also undesirable since it would reduce system effectiveness necessary to cope with the challenges posed by globalization.

European governance can still be legitimate, only that the basis of democracy must be on output legitimacy. Citizen participation in the decision-making process must nonetheless be improved. Features of the Democratic Deficit European integration moved from negative to positive integration. It was initiated primarily for economic reasons concerned with the removal of barriers to the establishment of a common market for trade and undistorted competition.

However, it soon became evident that a single market also required an entirely new system of economic regulation for intervention into policy areas that may not directly distort free trade, but nonetheless offer unfair advantages to some member states. As a direct result, more government functions have been brought within the exclusive responsibility of the EU, thereby leading to a loss of problem-solving capacities of national political systems.

As Weiler argues, "Though the formal political boundaries of the State have remained intact, in the areas of transfer of responsibility to the Union the functional political boundaries of the polity have been effectively re-drawn. " (Weiler, 1995, 232) This situation has several implications for democracy, namely that the citizenry has been distanced from the democratic government, a situation labeled by Weiler as "inverted regionalism. " This remoteness, coupled with the convoluted process of policy formation in the EU, results in a general lack of transparency.

"Decision-making at the European level is all too often an opaque and confusing process which even experts struggle to comprehend and which leads to a situation where it is easy for European action to be portrayed as not being properly accountable. " (Lebessis and Paterson, 1999, 8) Furthermore, there exists a significant power disparity between the Council of Ministers (hereafter referred to as the Council) and the European Commission on one hand, and the European Parliament on the other. To many scholars this is the true essence of the democratic deficit.

The European Union "lacks the constitutionally fixed balance of executive, legislative, and judicial powers underpinned by an electoral system of direct representation ordinarily found in federal systems. " (Schmidt, 1997, 129) In spite of being empowered to take majority decisions binding on all member states, the Council is not subject to parliamentary accountability. The Commission, although it has increasingly been made accountable to the European Parliament, also enjoys more independence than member state governments from their respective parliaments.

Consequently, the Council and the Commission are not properly checked by the popularly elected Parliament, nor are they properly checked by a system of constitutional controls. This gives the impression that citizens are not able to affect critical policy choices, thereby confirming or rejecting European governance. It has been argued that the Parliament's legitimacy has been further undermined by the fact that voter turnout at elections is low, and that the political infrastructure is partly lacking.

(Goldmann, 2001, 158) There are no European political parties and no European-wide media, which in part contributes to the lack of public debate on the European level. Implications of the "no demos" thesis The list of proposals for overcoming the democratic deficit is enormous and even a partial account of them would by far exceed the scope of this paper. Yet, two of the most commonly cited solutions are enlarging the powers of the European Parliament or giving Europe a constitution.

At first glance, strengthening the Parliament seems indeed viable because this would increase its formal authority vis--vis the Council and the Commission and enable the citizens of member states to have a greater voice in policy issues. Since the Amsterdam Treaty, the Parliament has in fact received more influence in the legislative processes of the Union, but critics argue that the core issue is the right to propose legislations, which is currently only held by the Commission. Hence, it is argued that strengthening the Parliament would give some of the influence back to the voters and increase democratic accountability.

However, the serious drawback of this proposal is that in Europe many decisions would then only reflect the wishes of a particular majority. Whilst this may not be problematic within states, the same does not apply to the European Union due to the lack of a collective identity. There must exist some from of a public interest or a collective welfare; "only if these Rousseauian assumptions are fulfilled, is it indeed possible to treat the preferences of the majority as a true expression of the volonti??

gi?? ni?? rale which the minority, being mistaken, would be wrong to oppose. " (Scharpf, 1998) The notion that democracy requires a collective identity has often been cited within the "no demos thesis. " A demos can be defined as a political community with the potential for democratic self-governance. (Zi?? rn, 2000, 191) In the absence of a demos, forming a common voice out of all the multiple voices that want to express themselves at the European level would be a task almost impossible to achieve.

Although there are two versions of the "no demos" thesis, a "soft" version arguing that a European demos could one day emerge and a "hard" one opposing this claim and arguing that the emergence of a European demos would even be undesirable, the implication of both versions is that without a demos democracy cannot function properly. "On this view, a parliament without a demos is conceptually impossible, practically despotic.

If the European Parliament is not the representative of a people, if the territorial boundaries of the EU do not correspond to its political boundaries, than the writ of such a parliament has only slightly more legitimacy than the writ of an emperor. " (Weiler, 1995, 231) For the same reason, authors such as Kielmansegg also disregard the possibility of a constitution making the EU democratic. The fundamental conditions are simply lacking. The EU is not just institutionally retarded, but lives in a social environment that does not fulfill the prerequisites for representative democracy.

Sarah from Law Aspect

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