The EU Is More Than A Constraint On Populist Democracy

Jan-Werner Müller’s eloquent proposal on what the EU should do when one (or more) of its Member States seems to be sliding towards authoritarianism follows the logic of the idea of constrained democracy, put forward in Müller’s recent work on the history of political thought in the 20th century Europe. While I find this vision of the EU appealing (and find Müller’s work on the EU deeply inspiring), I do not think that it is based on a faithful reconstruction of the integration process and the accompanying ‘post-war constitutional settlement’. I fear that Müller’s idealisation, no matter how well it is meant, harms the true EU democratic potential. Moreover, his proposal to establish the ‘Copenhagen Commission’ only confirms that the current EU is not capable of defending democracy and the rule of law.

Below I firstly criticise the notion of ‘constrained democracy’ and its extrapolation to the EU. Then I reconstruct what the integration actually is and can potentially be. Finally, I will argue that it is the Commission’s role to step in now, if it believes that the ongoing constitutional reforms in Hungary violate Article 2 TEU values. The establishment of the ‘Copenhagen Commission’ is the familiar, but repeatedly unsuccessful EU strategy of creating a new institution rather than its addressing the real problem.

European integration: constraining and enabling at the same time

Jan-Werner Müller derives the legitimacy of the EU’s intervention on from his understanding of European integration as an extension of the idea of ‘constrained democracy’. This idea found its home in post-war Europe, expressing the deep distrust of popular sovereignty, coupled with the drive towards delegation to unelected institutions in general ...

Zum vollständigen Artikel

Cookies helfen bei der Bereitstellung unserer Dienste. Durch die Nutzung erklären Sie sich mit der Cookie-Setzung einverstanden. Mehr OK