Politicising Europe's Justice Deficit: Some Preliminaries

Michael A. Wilkinson

London School of Economics - Law Department

February 10, 2014

LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 8/2014

Normative political theory is divided on whether questions of distributive justice properly extend beyond the state. From a functionalist perspective, however, justice reflects a balance of material forces, subject to the logics of ‘market’ and ‘social’ justice, or ‘capitalism’ and ‘democracy’. The justice ‘deficit’ is the imbalance or disequilibrium in these logics, an imbalance which the constitution of the post-war European state stabilises through their constraint. European integration, initially an important feature of this post-war settlement, now increasingly comes to be viewed as a significant threat to it. Whereas market logic and capital have been rapidly supra-nationalised, social-democratic logic has struggled to transcend the state, the EU, in particular, lacking the channels of contestation to legitimise redistribution. This leads to an imbalance in the forces of capitalism and democracy, a justice ‘deficit’, which destabilises national as well as supranational institutions, but also leads to questions being asked of what Germans owe Greeks, or vice versa. The justice deficit and reaction to it now appear to be threatening core features of state sovereignty. But it also suggests that the logic of the state – and the question: to whom are obligations owed? – must itself be subject to contestation; the dilemma of market and social justice, or capitalism and democracy, must be replaced with a trilemma, of market, social and democratic justice.

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Date posted: February 13, 2014  

Suggested Citation

Wilkinson, Michael A., Politicising Europe's Justice Deficit: Some Preliminaries (February 10, 2014). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 8/2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2379043 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2379043

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Michael A. Wilkinson (Contact Author)
London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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