Federalism, Confederalism and Sovereignty Claims: Understanding the Democracy Game in the EU

SOVEREIGNTY GAMES: INSTRUMENTALIZING STATE SOVEREIGNTY IN EUROPE AND BEYOND, R. Adler-Nissen and T. Gammeltoft-Hansen, eds., New York: Palgrave, 2008

29 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2009

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

Both member states and the EU share the claim and burden of representing citizens because the EU is a hybrid polity combining federal and confederal principles. Since these principles are antagonistic it is vital to understand how they are balanced, what imperils this equilibrium and what consequences this structure has for democracy. Interpreting the balance of confederalism and federalism as a sovereignty game, the paper shows that the maintenance of the hybrid system is taxing. In particular, following unexpected supranational developments, states have asserted aspects of sovereignty to manage expectations about integration. The problem is thus controlling the course of integration to the satisfaction of states and citizens, which constitutes a democracy game as changes to state sovereignty affect democratic processes. Responses to this democracy game include democratizing the EU or redefining democracy to make it compatible with the representation of states. Both are problematic: democratization disrupts the balance of confederalism and federalism, whilst accepting the compatibility of democracy and compounded representation overlooks the question of the quality of democracy. This analysis suggests the impact of sovereignty games on democracy is still not fully understood and that there is no simple solution for ensuring these games do not harm democracy.

Keywords: federalism, confederalism, sovereignty, european integration

Suggested Citation

Glencross, Andrew R., Federalism, Confederalism and Sovereignty Claims: Understanding the Democracy Game in the EU (2008). SOVEREIGNTY GAMES: INSTRUMENTALIZING STATE SOVEREIGNTY IN EUROPE AND BEYOND, R. Adler-Nissen and T. Gammeltoft-Hansen, eds., New York: Palgrave, 2008 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1004326

Andrew R. Glencross (Contact Author)

University of Stirling ( email )

Stirling, Scotland FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

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