EU Democracy and the Committee of the Regions
New Horizons in European Politics series
The legitimacy of the European Union (EU) has been questioned for more than 20 years, since the referendums in Denmark and France on the Treaty of Maastricht took European leaders and EU institutions by surprise, signalling an unexpected disillusionment with the European project. Since then, the academic community has been pondering about the so-called EU ‘democratic deficit’, giving rise to a rich and complex literature. The democratic deficit of the European Union (henceforth also appearing in this text as ‘Union’) has been the object of very different assessments. Opinions range from those who think that the problem is very serious and may threaten the very sustainability of the Union, to those who think that the problem does not really exist. The authors of this book believe that it should be taken seriously, but they also think that the notion of democracy by which the EU is to be evaluated needs to be adapted to the ‘new circumstances of politics’ (Rawls 1972, Weale 1999) characteristic of a multilevel setting like the European Union. Our attempt will therefore be to review some of the more recent contributions on representative democracy in multilevel settings in order to extrapolate the criteria according to which democracy should function in these contexts.