Paying Tribute to the Ghost of Democratic Deficit

Literally a week ago any scholar daring to advocate “less power for the EU Parliament” and “hands off the Commission” would have faced a storm of dramatic accusations from all sorts of legal and political scientists. EU academia is deeply infected by a virus called “democratic deficit”. Last week parliamentary elections in Europe revealed the need to challenge this virus and explain why politicising the Commission (the direction enthusiastically advanced in recent EU scholarship) is largely erroneous and potentially mortal for the EU immune system. Considering a concise format of the blog, I can neither fully expose the genealogy of the debate on democratic governance nor meticulously challenge arguments of the leading proponents of the Parliament’s empowerment. Instead, I take this occasion to further sketch the current politics of the constitutional argument about democratic deficit in EU law, summarize its major fallacies and, finally, illustrate my conclusions against the background of the last week election results.

EU Parliament: Institution with the Wrong Name in the Wrong Place(s)

Since the end of the 1970s, the cliché of democratic deficit has been penetrating jargon of EU scholars as a reference to the assumed lack of participatory democracy. The transformation of the Assembly into EU Parliament parallel to the gradual increase in competences endorsed to this institution has been seen as progressive democratization of the Union. Anyone ever studying decision-making procedures by the trio (the Council, the Commission and the Parliament) cannot but feel immediate goose bumps recalling their complexities and infinite varieties advanced in the course of the evolution of the EU Treaties. The direct elections in the Member States were designed as a missing forum for the absent exercise of universal civic engagement offered to EU citizens ...

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