A Democratic Audit of the European Union by Christopher Lord (auth.)

By Christopher Lord (auth.)

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Many contributors to the literature have seen consociational democracy as suited to the EU (Chryssochoou, 1994; Lijphart, 1997). In other words, the Union would be democratic in so far as its institutions meet the following tests: (1) Provide inclusive and proportional representation of office-holders designated by national democracies; (2) Respect the autonomy of national democratic practices; (3) Allow representatives of national democracies to retain veto rights in matters they consider of vital importance (Lijphart, 1979, 1997).

45–6) Trust (p. 48) Rights (p. 51) Citizens’ knowledge and understanding of the EU (pp. 55–6) Voter participation (p. 65) Proportionality of national representation (p. 100) Representatives’ role conceptions (p. 127). A second reality check is provided by case studies of particular Union procedures. In many areas (such as Co-decision or Comitology) the existing literature provides an abundance of case studies. This research however develops some original case study material in relation to procedures that are recent or comparatively less well researched, including the Nice IGC (2000), the Conventions on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (1999–2000) and on the Future of Europe (2001–), the Investitures of the Santer (1994–5) and Prodi Commissions (1999) and, indeed, the resignation of the former (1999).

Although its law takes priority over national law, there is no power of the Union that cannot itself be withdrawn by the agreement of Member States to change the Treaties. Furthermore, that power is dispersed and reliant on the enforcement structures of others, primarily the administrations of the Member States. As Joe Weiler puts it (2002, p. 568) the EU has a ‘top-to-bottom hierarchy of norms’ but a ‘bottom-to-top hierarchy of authority and real power’. All of this creates a dilemma. A pattern in which mechanisms of public control are dispersed horizontally across particular institutions of the Union and vertically across levels of Union governance will make it hard to apply democracy to the EU through one straightforward process of competition for political power.

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