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Home Opinion Ideas & Debate Democratic self government in Europe

Democratic self-government in Europe

In September 2012, the Eurobarometer found for the first time that more European citizens considered the EU to be undemocratic than democratic. Since then numerous commentators, academics and policymakers have made proposals for how the EU can be improved through institutional reforms to make the Union more democratically accountable and popularly accepted.

In the Policy Network paper ‘Democratic Self-Government in Europe’, Damian Chalmers took a unique approach. Chalmers argues that the EU should only govern when it has democratic authority within a member state. Given the surge of populism across Europe, answering how the EU can improve its democratic legitimacy and popular appeal is fundamental.

This idea and debates series sets out four responses to Chalmer's work:


The European Union and the nation state
With national legislators involved in EU decision-making, not only would national and EU politics be organically linked, but national parliamentarians would find it harder to criticize it for the sake of populist appeal.
By Anand Menon

Killing the EU rather than quitting it

We have known since Bagehot that democracy through parliaments is about discussions rather then decisions. Parliaments are essential to any democracy because they question, scrutinize and criticize.
By Olivier Rozenberg

Being part of the club
It is axiomatic that states join voluntarily and do so because they believe that cost of the autonomy foregone is worth the benefits of being part of the club. A necessary corollary is that no individual Member State is going to like all that the EU does.
By Paul Craig

Renationalisation vs. Europeanisation
Either European leaders respond to criticisms that the EU lacks legitimacy or they risk that EU citizens will retreat to national affiliations, which they feel constitute the only safeguard of their political rights.
By Thierry Chopin

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