Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law



Many politicians representing the `reluctant European' hail national democracy as being the natural home for political democracy. Before we let such voices take over the debate entirely and before the European citizenry gets convinced that the major problem with the Union is its size and not its current organization, it is also important to remember that national democracy, too, has become increasingly contested in recent years. Despite the fact that many still consider the nation to be the only legitimate basis for democratic deliberation, it is quite clear that national parliaments in the past 20-30 years have lost huge amounts of power and potency to transnational networks, interest groups and big business. It is consequently naïve to believe that returning to a pre-Community situation would fundamentally improve democratic legitimacy even though this is a serious suggestion by several `"No" campaigners' in Denmark and other EU-sceptic countries. The European Community and the globalised world that the Union continuously attempts to regulate to the welfare of all, will continue to exist and thus be an indispensable part of our reality no matter whether we are inside or outside the Union. I believe that most Norwegians would agree with me on that point. Because the Community acquis has to be adopted by everybody - including even countries which choose to have a looser association with the Union, leaving the Union would indeed increase, rather than decrease, the democratic deficit for the individual citizen. Thus, turning to the nation state would not provide an answer to the frustration that many European citizens are experiencing in these years. It is thus because the European Union cannot be avoided that the White Paper and the debate it has already provoked can be seen as a first - though incomplete - step towards reconciling the governing with the governed.




This site is part of the Academy of European Law online, a joint partnership of the Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law, the Academy of European Law and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute.
Questions or comments about this site?