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Cover European Union Politics

9. Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union  

Stijn Smismans

This chapter discusses the extent to which decision-making in the European Union can be considered democratic and legitimate, clarifying the concepts ‘democracy’ and ‘legitimacy’. The European democratic deficit became an important issue of debate only after the Maastricht Treaty transferred considerable powers to the EU. The main solution 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 considers different stages of policy-making and different modes of governance, transparency and the role of civil society, and discusses wider issues associated with the democracy and legitimacy of the Union, such as the impact of the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. The chapter concludes by warning that three main crises—the economic, migration, and security crises—have revived nationalist and populist movements exacerbating the challenges to the EU’s legitimacy.


Cover The Institutions of the European Union

6. The European Parliament:  

powerful but fragmented

Ariadna Ripoll Servent and Olivier Costa

The European Parliament (EP) symbolizes many of the struggles that characterize the process of European integration and is at the core of many theoretical and empirical debates about representation, accountability, and legitimacy. This chapter draws on a variety of theoretical approaches to explain the complex role the EP plays in the political system of the European Union (EU). It starts with a brief overview of the history and functions of the assembly, followed by a theoretical explanation of its empowerment over time. Then, it determines the extent to which the EP is capable of influencing policymaking, both in legislative and non-legislative domains, as well as for the appointment of the Commission. It presents the political structure of the assembly and underlines the role of parliamentary groups and committees. It discusses the representativeness of the EP and the democratic quality of its internal functioning. Finally, it addresses current and future challenges for the EP.


Cover The Member States of the European Union

14. Europeanization, Euroscepticism, and Politicization in Party Politics  

Paul Taggart

The development of European integration has meant that member states have experienced Europeanization and as a consequence the EU has become a more politicized issue in domestic politics. Politicization has come over time and as a consequence of the decline of a permissive consensus and takes some very different forms. The chapter considers the place of the domestic politicization of European integration in theories of European integration and then reviews different periods of the history of European integration, highlighting the growing phenomena of Europeanization and politicization. The chapter then looks at Euroscepticism and its meaning and different forms and identifying which parties can currently be identified as Eurosceptic and what issues Euroscepticism blends with in different member states. The chapter then offers a typology for understanding the different ways in which the politicization of European integration plays out in the party systems of member states.