Re-connecting Authority and Democratic Legitimacy in the EU: Introductory Remarks

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Table of Contents: I. The disconnection between the loci of authority and those of democratic control. – II. The competence problem in the Union. – III. Reconciling Europe with its citizens through democracy and rule of law. – IV. Scope and contents.

Abstract: One of the main problems the Union has to cope with is the difficulty in properly articulating the relationship between authority and democratic legitimacy, in particular the disconnection between the allocation of powers to the EU and to its Member States and the forms of democratic control over their exercise in the Union. Indeed, it seems that the more EU authority expands, the more the democratic legitimacy of the Union is in trouble. In the EU the source of authority is dislocated out of the traditional forms of democratic accountability, which have been shaped domestically by centuries of constitutional history. In addition to this, the “punctiform” nature of many EU decision-making processes, starting at one level of government – regional, national or supranational – and ending up being concluded at a different level, favours this feeling of disorientation amongst European citizens. The attitude of several national governments, which tend to blame the EU for their own failures, exacerbates this problem and leads to the perception of EU institutions as not only distant, but also detached from the needs of ordinary citizens.

Keywords: authority – legitimacy – disconnection – EU competences – democratic control – rule of law.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 1, pp. 175-189
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/379

* Assistant Professor of Public Comparative Law, Department of Political Science, Luiss Guido Carli University (Rome),
** Professor of EU Law, Law Department, Luiss Guido Carli University (Rome), Professeur invité de droit de l’Union européenne, Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris),
*** Jean Monnet Chair ad personam, Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations; Director, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies – Institute for International Law, KU Leuven; Coordinator of the Horizon 2020 project RECONNECT (Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and Rule of Law),


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