The Dichotomy Between “Input Legitimacy” and “Output Legitimacy” in the Light of the EU Institutional Developments

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Table of Contents: I. The dichotomy’s original purposes. – II. The distinction between redistributive and regulatory policies. – III. The financial crisis and the emergence of an EU “twin legitimacy deficit”. – IV. Pringle and Gauweiler as symptoms of the contradictory response to the financial crisis. – V. The pivotal role of national governments in deepening the Eurozone’s accountability deficit. – VI. Conclusion.

Abstract: The Article deals with the complex legitimacy problem that arose in the aftermath of the Eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. This crisis has triggered a “twin legitimacy deficit”, with output legitimacy undermined, in terms of the EU’s capacity to react through European-wide redistributive policies, and the input legitimacy of national representative institutions severely limited under the strict conditionality put in place by the new governance system and by the “command-and-control relationship” imposed. The case law of the Court of Justice, in cases like Pringle (Court of Justice, judgment of 27 November 2012, case C-370/12) and Gauweiler (Court of justice, judgment of 16 June 2015, case C-62/14), has revealed the same paradox. On the one hand, we have witnessed the imposition by an “unaccountable technocracy” (or the self-imposition by Member States) of a series of automatisms that limit the autonomy of national governments. On the other hand, the “command-and-control” style of intervention is also meant to impose a structural convergence amongst very different national economies and can be considered as illegitimate. Technocratic and intergovernmental dominance has further worsened the disconnection between the EU and its citizens also from the input legitimacy perspective, favouring a sort of populist backlash against the Union.

Keywords: twin legitimacy deficit – Eurozone crisis – conditionality – technocratic dominance – intergovernmentalism – accountability.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 1, pp. 225-236
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/375

* Full Professor of Public Law, Department of Legal Studies, Sapienza University of Rome,


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