On Accountability and Legitimacy in the EU: Facing the Issue of Assurance

NewGov Cluster Document-DTF-D08, 2007

26 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2010

Date Written: August 31, 2007


This report lays out a unified account of the complex and confusing relationship between legitimacy, democracy and accountability. The reasons we have to value accountability mechanisms and democratic arrangements also lend support to some modes of accountability that lack strong enforcement mechanisms or ultimate electoral accountability, and that all of these forms may further the normative legitimacy of political order. They may help address the manifold needs of assurance among citizens regarded as 'contingent compliers' - willing to do their share in just schemes, if they are assured that others act likewise.This general perspective is brought to bear on some salient features of the 'Constitutional Treaty' of the European Union that might have enhanced the normative legitimacy of the EU: Democratic accountability of EU bodies toward European and national parliaments, accountability for subsidiarity toward national parliaments; and accountability of national and EU bodies to international courts with regard to human rights. Such accountability mechanisms, democratic and otherwise, may assure citizens that the institutions and offices satisfy the appropriate standards of legitimacy, and that most other citizens and officials actually do their share.

Keywords: Legitimacy, Accountability, Democracy, EU

Suggested Citation

Follesdal, Andreas, On Accountability and Legitimacy in the EU: Facing the Issue of Assurance (August 31, 2007). NewGov Cluster Document-DTF-D08, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1704413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1704413

Andreas Follesdal (Contact Author)

Pluricourts ( email )

P.O. Box 6706
St. Olavs plass 5
0130 Oslo

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