How Democratic The European Union

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T he following paper will address the question of how democratic the European Union is by analysing each of its institutions and the decision procedures in the European context. It will take into account the special role of the European Union as “a system of polycentric governance” (Garner, 2009: 230), and the complex relationships between its institutions and the institutions of its member countries. Hereby taking into account that the “EU can be characterized as ‘a system of network governance’ in which ‘the ‘‘state’’ is vertically and horizontally segmented and its role has changed from authoritative allocation ‘‘from above’’ to the role of an ‘activator’ ” (Crum and Fussom, 2009: 257). The EU with its high degree of complexity remains unique in the world of governance and shouldn’t be compared to nation states. Following a multilevel approach that recognises this uniqueness the question whether the scepticism towards the EU’s institutions and the voices that see a democratic deficit inherent in the EU are right shall be answered.
When analysing the system of the EU on grounds of its democratic legitimacy it is important to define democracy itself. Democracy is a value-laden term that has various meanings and comes in different shapes (e.g. representative vs. direct democracy). As none of the member states in the EU practices direct democracy to a mentionable extent it would not be suitable to assess the EU on terms of direct democratic participation. A reasonable
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