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The Trilemma of Legitimacy. Multilevel Governance in the EU and the Problem of Democracy. ZEI Discussion Papers: 1998, C 11

Höreth, Marcus (1998) The Trilemma of Legitimacy. Multilevel Governance in the EU and the Problem of Democracy. ZEI Discussion Papers: 1998, C 11. [Discussion Paper]

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    Abstract

    [Introduction]. As the European Communities have unquestionably been exercising govermental power for many years, there is a need for democratic legitimation of this specific "Governance without Statehood." To a far greater extent than ordinary international organizations, the European Union has crossed the boundary from horizontal interstate cooperation to vertical policy-making in a dynamic multi-level system, in which the member states are but one level of the polity. The European Union has developed into a new type of political system which lacks many of the features we associate with democratic governance. Whereas in the past the EC relied on indirect legitimacy based on its member states and their complete control of European policy-making, the "uneven denationalization" evoked by the European integration indicates that the sovereign state cannot remain the sole focus of normative reflection. Since the Single European Act (SEA) and the Treaty on European Union (TEU) the forced transfer of political decisions and allocations from the national to the European level has weakened democratic influence and control at the national level without having been compensated by equally strong democratic institutions and processes at the European level. Therefore, the European Union is a new subject for theories of legitimacy which poses fundamental questions to the established principles and concepts of democratic theory. In this discussion paper I try to develop an argument why neither politicians nor academics still have not found any satisfactory solutions concerning the legitimacy problem of European Governance. First, I will give an overview of the main sources of legitimacy in the Euro-Polity (II.). It will be shown that the strict observation of formal rules of democracy at the European level is not the sole method in which multi-level governance in the EU might gain legitimacy. Regardless of this assumption, it is obvious that European policy-making suffers from a democratic deficit which must be taken seriously from a normative point of view. The academic debate about this democratic deficit is centered on the two dimensions of the problem, which will be presented in chapter III. On the one hand, the institutional arrangement of the EU often is interpreted as non-democratic. On the other hand, it is argued that the EU is unable to be a ‘real’ democracy in principle because the structural and social prerequisites on which democratic rule depends are missing at the European level. These are the main challenges for European constitutional engineering. The final part (IV.) consists of a discussion of varying reform options dealing with the multidimensional legitimacy problem.

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    Item Type: Discussion Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > governance: EU & national level
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > democracy/democratic deficit
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > legitimacy
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series: UNSPECIFIED
    ["eprint_fieldname_eusries" not defined]: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > University of Bonn, Center for European Integration Studies > ZEI Discussion Papers
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2003
    Page Range: p. 35
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:15
    URI: http://aei.pitt.edu/id/eprint/340

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