2006 | 9 | 98-140
Article title

Four Dimensions of Legitimisation of the European Union

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The democratic deficit affects the majority of contemporary democracies; however, it particularly affects the institutions of the European Union. The legitimisation of authority invokes four types of argument. The first of them points to the role of law and ways in which it is applied (legal and procedural legitimization); the second considers the meaning of the democratic mandate obtained in the election of representatives (democratic legitimisation); the third refers to the results of exercising authority; the fourth to the culture of the specific political community. The European Union is based on procedural legitimisation, with an immense role being played by European law; the standardised procedures of its application have until now been the main tool for deepening the integration process. At the same time, democratic legitimisation is weak. The European Parliament does not reflect European public opinion and the turn-out at elections is systematically falling. The European Commission, which should carry out general union business, is subject only to indirect democratic control which, in practice implies discretionary character of its actions. Legitimisation by results is limited in view of a small scale of budget under its control and the institutional inefficiency. Introducing a common currency and liberalisation of the market without transferring responsibility for the operation of market mechanisms on to the Union has caused a deep crisis. There is also no common political culture for the European Union. From an analysis of the functioning of union institutions there emerged the conclusion that the democratic deficit is inscribed into the logic of these institutions which were meant to act effectively. In order to ward off the current crisis, it is necessary to streamline the institutions, increase efficiency of the policies and to widen the area of democratic participation through the introduction of federal solutions.
  • T. G. Grosse, Instytut Spraw Publicznych, ul. Szpitalna 5 lok. 22, 00-031 Warszawa, Poland
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