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The European Union: How does it work?

The European Union: How does it work? (5th edn)

Daniel Kenealy, John Peterson, and Richard Corbett
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date: 29 September 2023

p. 1467. Democracy in the European Unionlocked

p. 1467. Democracy in the European Unionlocked

  • Richard Corbett


This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the European Union by asking whether it matches some key features common to many modern democratic systems: representation (whether legislation is adopted by representative assemblies); separation of powers; the executive’s democratic accountability; respect for fundamental rights; and whether competing political parties offer voters genuine choice. The chapter also clarifies some key concepts and terms such as bicameralism, democratic deficit, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Furthermore, it considers an alternative to representative democracy: the organizing of referenda to settle issues. Finally, it discusses the EU’s provisions for helping national parliaments scrutinize the participation of their government in EU institutions.

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