Democracy and the European Union: Challenges
DEMOCRACY AND THE EUROPEAN UNION: STUDIES IN ECONOMIC ETHICS AND PHILOSOPHY, pp. 1-10, A. Føllesdal and P. Koslowski, eds., Springer, 1997
9 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2010
Date Written: 1997
The "great question", as John Locke put it, is not whether there should be political power in the world, nor whence it came, but who should have it. For domestic institutions, these three questions of normative political theory may well be separable and ordered. However, the legitimacy of trans-state institutions can hardly be determined without keen regard for whether and why they should exist, and whence they arose. The characteristics and constraints of sovereign states have shaped the parameters for democratic answers to Locke's question. Just domestic government must be accountable to the governed. That is: the power to make laws and secure compliance should ultimately reside with citizens generally, securing coincidence of the affected and the electorate. This general and equal distribution of political rights gives expression to the equal worth of all citizens, and is the best institutional arrangement in light of the effects both on popular will formation and for collective decision-making. Theories of democracy have not only endorsed universal suffrage, but also justified more specific details. The commonplaces include constitutionally specified procedures and constraints, including the division of legislative, executive and judicial powers; transparency; accountability of elected representatives to the electorate; and majority rule.The European Union is a new subject for theories of legitimacy, and poses fundamental challenges to the established concepts and principles of democratic theory. The mere existence of the EU proves that the sovereign state cannot remain the sole focus of normative reflection. Indeed, the very conception of sovereignty is at stake in current disputes about the proper scope and legal powers to be transferred to central European institutions, without divesting traditional member states of all powers.
Keywords: Democracy, European Union, Political Theory. Legitimacy, Sovereignity, Institutions
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