Vos, Hendrik and Decock, Jeroen (2003) "Democratic legitimacy in the EU: the Role of National Parliaments". In: UNSPECIFIED, Nashville, Tennessee. (Unpublished)
Enhancing democratic legitimacy in the multilevel European polity is an important challenge. The results of eurobarometer, the outcome of referenda on EU-related topics, demonstrations at European summits etc.: they all show a weakening of the legitimacy of the European political system. In our traditional view on democracy ‘parliaments’ contribute towards the legitimacy of political projects. In this regard, the European Parliament has a crucial part to play. The Laeken Declaration states that national parliaments have an important role as well. But one needs to be careful. When talking about ‘democratic legitimacy’ one has to distinguish between input-oriented legitimacy (government by the people) and output-oriented effectiveness (government for the people). There are elements of conflict: involving national parliaments more closely in the decision-making procedures (one way to enhance democracy at the input-side) will probably complicate the decision-making process. This could have a negative impact on the institutional capacity for effective problem-solving at the EU-level and prevent European institutions from conveying output-oriented legitimacy. This paper examines the different proposals submitted to the Convention on Europe’s future on strengthening the influence of national parliaments. Specific attention is paid to the tension between input- and output-legitimacy. Our conclusion is that although most proposals would have adverse effects on effective policy-making, there are still possibilities for national parliaments to get more grip on European policies (thus enhancing democracy at the input-side), without complicating the decision-making process (thus not restricting effectiveness).
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