Essay on Is the EU Democratic?

Essay on Is the EU Democratic?

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The European Union (EU) is fundamentally democratic and is evident through its institutions, however, the current democratic electoral structure is of great concern. The EU is a new type of political system, often referred to as a sui generis, implying its uniqueness as there exists and a non comparable political body. The EU can neither regarded as a ‘state’ nor as an ‘international institution’ as it combines supranational as well as intergovernmental characteristics (Hix, 1999, p7). In this regard it has developed its own understandings of what democracy is. It is evident that the development of and spread of democracy is a central concept and foundation to all politics within the EU, and remains focuses on makings its governing institutions “more transparent and democracy”. The recent Eurozone crisis, it’s associated anti-crisis measures and the recent enlargement of EU have however re-invigorated debate about the EUs democratic legitimacy. At the heart of the debate are discussions not about whether the EU is an all-encompassing democratic institution but rather what are ‘democratic deficits’ or the democratic shortcomings that exist within this powerful economic and political union. Underpinning these divisions as Schmitter argues, are different understandings of what democracy is in the modern context and more specifically in the unique context of the EU. This essay will argue that the EU presents a unique type of political system that is fundamentally democratic, however, there are democratic shortcomings within its procedural and institutional structure.

In making this argument this essay seeks to five things. Firstly, to define democracy within the contemporary context offering the key characteristics of a modern re...


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...: Reassessing Legitimacy in the European Union. Journal of Common Market Studies, 40 (4), pp. 603-24.
Peterson, J. and Shackleton, M. 2002. The institutions of the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schmidt, V. A. 2013. Democracy and legitimacy in the European Union revisited: input, output and ‘throughput’. Political Studies, 61 (1), pp. 2--22.
Schmitter, P. C. 2001. What is there to legitimize in the European Union… and how might this be accomplished? IHS Political Science Series: 2001, No. 75. Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna.
Tiilikainen, T. 2011. The empowered European Parliament: Accommodation to the new functions provided by the Lisbon Treaty. The Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
Vesnic-Alujevic, L. and Nacarino, R. C. 2012. The EU and its democratic deficit: problems and (possible) solutions. European View, 11 (1), pp. 63--70.


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