Democracy, Legitimacy and Soft Modes of Governance in the EU: The Empirical Turn
Journal of European Integration, Vol. 29, No. 5, pp 531-548, 2007
25 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2007
During the past few years, the European Union has made increasing use of the so called soft modes of governance, modes based on voluntary and non-sanctioning forms of public action where state and non-state actors interact in extensive networks to solve complex social problems. This article deals with the issue of the democratic credentials of soft modes of governance at the European Union level. Starting by recognising that they entail an authoritative allocation of normative standards that have a wide societal reach, the article argues that a careful examination of the democratic legitimacy of these soft modes of governance needs to take into account their diverse nature. By pointing out different theoretical concepts of democracy, the article elaborates an analytical framework based on a series of yardsticks for the assessment of the democratic legitimacy of SMGs in the EU, thus providing a much-needed conceptual clarification for a research agenda that is ultimately an empirical one.
Keywords: European governance, soft modes of governance, soft instruments, input legitimacy, output legitimacy, Open Method of Coordination
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