EU Legitimacy and Normative Political Theory
PALGRAVE ADVANCES IN EUROPEAN STUDIES, pp. 151-173, M. Cini and A. Bourne, eds., Houndmills: Palgrave, 2006
23 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2006
The aim of this chapter is to present some of the central research topics found in normative political theory relating to the EU. Normative political theory uses methods of normative reasoning to address concepts, arguments and theories about the substantive normative standards necessary for legitimate political orders, institutions and policies. Topics covered might include ‘democracy’, ‘fairness’, ‘equality’, ‘justice’, ‘citizenship’, and ‘virtue’. The ‘normative turn in EU studies’ (Bellamy and Castiglione, 2003) has largely focused on how European-level institutions should be governed. This subject was placed on the public and political agenda largely as a result of the perceived legitimacy crises wrought by the Maastricht Treaty (and sketched in the first section below). Popular and legal conflicts during the ratification process strengthened the argument presented by politicians and scholars that the EU was suffering from a ‘legitimacy deficit’. The second section dissolves this apparent consensus by exploring the various symptoms, diagnoses and medication proposed by experts in this field. The next section provides a taxonomy of conceptions, mechanisms and objects of legitimacy. The fourth section presents a unifying perspective based on the need for trust and trustworthiness, so as to explore how perceived normative legitimacy affects both compliance and long-term popular support for the EU. The chapter concludes by reviewing several central areas of normative research which serve to address – and perhaps alleviate – such legitimacy deficits.
Keywords: normative political theory, EU, democracy, equality, citizenship, institutions, legitimacy deficit
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