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Edited by Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán

European Union Politics equips readers to understand the European Union and the topical debates and issues which surround it. Alongside comprehensive coverage of the history, theory, institutions, and policies of the EU, it features chapters on contemporary issues and current debates, including democracy and legitimacy in the EU, citizens and public opinion, the economic crisis, and a new chapter on Brexit. Helpful learning features throughout the text, including key points, questions, and examples, support learning.

Chapter

This chapter brings together what have usually been presented as separate ‘consequences’ of European integration. First, it examines Europeanization: the process through which domestic politics and polities are changed by their engagement with the EU. Second, it considers three literatures that capture contemporary challenges to integration: a new domestic politicization of the EU; the rise of Euroscepticism; and a questioning of whether the EU is experiencing disintegration. Third, a continuing challenge for the EU has been its democratic legitimacy, and rising Europeanization is linked to questions of legitimacy of the EU amongst the public. This chapter deals with these interrelated phenomena: the EU’s impact on its member states and the issues arising.

Chapter

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

This chapter illustrates source criticism, which is a technical and intellectual method used to track down the itinerary of a source of information. It aims to identify the producer, determine its initial meaning, and establish its conformity as an authentic unaltered source that yields truthful information. The general aims of source criticism are now widely shared by all social science disciplines. Though interdisciplinary in nature, its treatment and implementation vary according to the fields and sources concerned. The use and application of criticism can differ considerably depending on whether a study relies directly on people, documents, or other potential evidence. Ultimately, source criticism provides scientific legitimacy and rigour in the social science disciplines, where the nature and diversity of levels of intermediation and interpretation in the observational and empirical process can often prove misleading.

Chapter

Natasha Lindstaedt

For many years, the concept of an authoritarian regime was considered to be one large category, with little understanding of how these regimes differed. The study of authoritarian regimes has come a long way since. Though all authoritarian regimes share in common that there is no turnover in power of the executive, there are considerable differences that distinguish autocracies. Authoritarian regimes today are increasingly attempting to use ‘democratic’ institutions to prolong their rule. This has led to a rise in competitive authoritarian regimes, or hybrid regimes. In spite of these changes, authoritarian regimes are more robust than ever. This chapter explains the different ways in which authoritarian regimes are categorized. The chapter then explains how the different types of authoritarian regimes perform, and what factors make them more durable. As the chapter demonstrates, autocratic regimes have become increasingly better equipped to maintain themselves.

Chapter

This chapter examines the basics of political philosophy, focusing in particular on what makes the state legitimate, or what is the ideal state we should be striving for. It first considers the use of normative analysis by political philosophers — that is, they are concerned with asking how the state ought to be organized and how much freedom ought individuals be granted. It then discusses the issues of consent and democracy, social contract, and the general will, along with utilitarianism as an account of state legitimacy. It also explores liberalism and liberty in relation to the state, Marxism and communitarianism, the idea of a just state, and how the traditional state focus of political theory has been challenged by globalization. Finally, it describes the influence of anarchism on modern politics and the position of anarchists with respect to the ideal state.

Chapter

This chapter examines the role of mass beliefs and value change in democratization processes. Building on one of the central assumptions of political culture theory—the congruence thesis—it argues that mass beliefs are of critical importance for a country’s chances to become and remain democratic. Mass beliefs determine whether a political system is accepted as legitimate or not, which has a major impact on a regime’s likelihood of surviving. The chapter first considers how the role of mass beliefs in democratization is addressed in the literature before discussing mass demands for democracy vs popular preferences for democracy. It then discusses regime legitimacy and its relation to economic performance and asks whether emancipative values are caused by democracy. It also explains changes in many countries’ level of democracy and concludes with an analysis of the influence of religion on democratization.

Chapter

James R. Scarritt and Jóhanna K Birnir

This chapter explores the relationship between ethnopolitics and nationalism, and more specifically how ethnic identity contributes to war and the amelioration of ethnic conflicts. It first considers the construction and politicization of ethnic identities — in other words, the construction of ethnic and ethnopolitical identities — before discussing the construction of a variety of nationalist identities in the developing world. It then examines the conflictual, competitive, and cooperative interactions of groups based on nationalist identities with one another and with states, along with states’ efforts to mould these interactions in ways that enhance the legitimacy of state-based nations and their support from various groups. The chapter shows that cooperative interactions tend to promote nation-building through multi-ethnic/multicultural nationalism.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the extent to which decision-making in the European Union can be considered democratic and legitimate. The chapter clarifies the concepts ‘democracy’ and ‘legitimacy’, and describes how, although initially the legitimacy of the European polity was not perceived as a problem, it became more problematic as the EU gained more competences. The European democratic deficit became an important issue of debate only during the 1990s after the Maastricht Treaty had transferred considerable powers to the EU. The main solution to the democratic deficit has been inspired by the parliamentary model of democracy and involves strengthening the European Parliament (EP), while also paying attention to the role of national parliaments and regional and local authorities. The chapter also shows how the governance debate at the start of the twenty-first century broadened the conceptual understanding of democracy in the EU by addressing the complexity of European governance (see also Chapter 7). By looking at different stages of policy-making and different modes of governance, while dealing with issues such as transparency and the role of civil society, the chapter discusses a wider range of issues associated with the democracy and legitimacy of the Union. It assesses the impact on EU democracy of the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. The chapter concludes by warning that three main crises, namely the economic, migration, and security crises, have revived nationalist and populist movements exacerbating the challenges to the EU’s legitimacy.

Chapter

Dermot Hodson and Uwe Puetter

This chapter discusses the European Union’s (EU) response to the euro crisis that emerged in late 2009, two years after the global financial crisis struck. It identifies the challenges this crisis has posed to the existing institutional set-up of economic and monetary union (EMU) and shows that it had a lasting impact on discussions over the EU’s future well beyond its most dramatic moments. A timeline of the euro crisis is provided and the main changes to the institutional framework of European economic governance at the time of writing are reviewed. The chapter considers whether the crisis was caused by a deficit of centralized decision-making and whether it has served, in turn, as a catalyst for deeper economic and political integration in the euro area and the Union more generally. The consequences of the crisis for the EU’s legitimacy are also explored from competing theoretical perspectives.

Chapter

9. European Union agencies:  

explaining EU agency behaviour, processes, and outputs

Dovilė Rimkutė

The institutional development of EU agencies is striking. Over the past decades, forty-six EU agencies have been established to support the European Commission and member states in their regulatory and executive tasks. Today, EU agencies are a vital part of the EU’s administrative capacity. EU agencies have received considerable scholarly attention that used a myriad of theoretical approaches—ranging from institutional, organizational, and bureaucratic reputation to interest-group theories—to explain why EU agencies have been created; how they develop over time; whether they are wielders of supranational or intergovernmental power; how they legitimize themselves and cultivate a positive bureaucratic reputation; and how they form alliances or insulate themselves from specific stakeholders. This chapter reviews the rise of EU agencies and introduces a selection of theoretical perspectives that have been used by EU agency scholars to study EU-level agencification and EU agency behaviour, regulatory processes, and outputs.

Chapter

This chapter explains what comparative politics could be relevant for, such as informing the public debate and giving policy advice. It argues that comparative politics has a huge but sometimes underdeveloped potential for being relevant for the various aspects of human well-being, economic prosperity, and social justice that most people care deeply about. Empirical research shows that the manner in which a country’s political institutions are designed and the quality of the operations of these institutions have a strong impact on measures of population health, as well as subjective well-being and general social trust. One result is that democratization without increased state capacity and control of corruption is not likely to deliver increased human well-being. The chapter also considers whether democracy generates political legitimacy, and concludes by suggesting that comparative political science has so far paid relatively little attention to issues of state capacity, control of corruption, and institutional quality.

Chapter

This chapter examines how the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken on new and controversial roles in relation to crisis management and financial supervision in the wake of the eurozone crisis. It also considers how the ECB’s transformation has encouraged a new wave of institutional theorizing about the Bank, placing emphasis, among other things, on the importance of credible commitments, path-dependence, strategic discourse, and the changing politics of European integration. The chapter first provides an overview of the ECB’s mandate and tasks before discussing its decision-making bodies. It then describes the ECB’s institutional design as well as its response to the euro crisis, along with various theories that explain the crisis, including historical institutionalism and the rational choice institutionalist perspective. The chapter concludes by assessing concerns about the ECB’s legitimacy.

Chapter

This chapter examines the legitimacy and democratic control of the European Union's international policies. It first explains why, with whom, and by what standards the EU's international role need to be legitimate before discussing the issue of democratic control involving the European Parliament (EP) and national parliaments. More specifically, it considers the member states' mantra that the legitimacy of EU decisions is ‘founded on the principle of representative democracy’, delivered through the representation of citizens in the EP and national democracies in the European Council, the Councils, and their own national parliaments. It also emphasizes the great variety in the EU's international policy procedures and concludes by assessing how legitimacy might enable or constrain the development of the EU as an international actor.

Chapter

Kenneth Baynes

This chapter examines Jürgen Habermas's major contributions to social and political thought. Habermas is regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary political theory. In his later work Habermas has begun to expand the normative political implications of his work in social theory and philosophy, culminating in Between Facts and Norms. This chapter first provides an overview of Habermas's earlier work, especially his study on the transformation of the liberal or bourgeois public sphere, before discussing his theory of communicative action (or action based on mutually supposed validity claims). It then considers Habermas's attempt, in Between Facts and Norms, to develop an account of deliberative politics anchored on the idea of political legitimacy and concludes with an analysis of cosmopolitanism as well as his views on discourse theory, democracy, the system of rights, and ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ publics.