Meunier, Sophie. (2003) "Trade policy and political legitimacy in the European Union". In: UNSPECIFIED, Nashville, TN. (Unpublished)
Accusations of the European Union's absence of political legitimacy find a particular echo in the area of external trade policy. Indeed, the combination of decade-old complaints about the EU's democratic deficit, the traditional delegation of trade-making authority to the most central level of government, and the now widespread protests against the governance of international economic institutions since the 1999 "battle of Seattle" make for a potentially explosive mix. Yet whether trade policy in the EU is as illegitimate as its critics claim depends a lot on semantics. By distinguishing between two complementary definitions of political legitimacy-one based on "process" and one on "outcome"-this article analyzes whether the institutions for making trade policy in the EU, and in particular the voting rules, can be considered "legitimate." The article also reflects upon the recent attempts made in the EU to develop a legitimate, democratic rule at the supranational level, in particular through a rethinking of the input of civil society in its decision-making structures, and explores whether the lessons learned from the EU experience can become an institutional blueprint for the controversial reform of the governance of international economic institutions in an age of globalization.
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