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Nir Kosti and David Levi-Faur

The concept of European citizenship had the potential to transform EU politics and policy and thus increase democratic participation. This new concept has been responsible for raising expectations for democratic empowerment beyond the EU institutions and leaders’ capacity to deliver. This chapter discusses the new opportunities for, and barriers to, the extension of the political rights, especially those that extend the right to participate. It examines the options for democratic empowerment and analyses the options for a broader understanding of the concept of EU citizenship, emphasising a participatory perspective. The chapter claims that by developing new forms of participation, the EU has rather enhanced the empowerment of its citizens. This claim builds upon some basic assertions on the concept of EU citizenship and its role in the discursive and political controversies around citizenship and democracy. The chapter asserts first that EU citizenship is meaningful because it exists as a legal construct, as an object of public discourse and as a policy idea. Secondly, the idea of EU citizenship helps to advance the discussion on the processes and outcomes around the concept of citizenship and democratic reforms in Europe and elsewhere.

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David Levi-Faur, Nir Kosti and Frans van Waarden

Democratic empowerment via institutional designs that extend the political rights of European citizens to participate in policy making stands at the centre of this book. We move beyond the concept of the democratic deficit within the European Union (EU), paying attention to the possibilities and barriers for democratic empowerment of European citizens. We focus especially on three major and more general themes: first, the positive and negative effects of the EU institutional design on the political rights of its citizens. Second, challenges for democratic regimes over the world in the twenty-first century in the context of regionalism and globalization. Third, the constraints of neoliberalism and capitalist markets on the ability of citizens to effectively achieve their political rights in order to shape policies, politics, social choices as well as in the economic and financial spheres.

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Keren Winter-Dinur, Nir Kosti, David Levi-Faur and Guy Mor

Chapter 12 by Keren Dinur, Nir Kosti, David Levi-Faur and Guy Mor reflects on the future of the European Union (EU) from the perspective of democratic empowerment following the experience of Brexit. It examines the salience of the democratic deficit in the public discourse surrounding Brexit and finds it to be surprisingly low compared to issues such as immigration, the economy and sovereignty. This exposes the limitations of the new forms of democratic empowerment in containing national-based Euroscepticism. The new channels of participation are found to undermine national sovereignty, and are therefore inadequate in ensuring EU ‘input legitimacy’ which demands requisite representation of national interests in policy making. In the current European political climate, the new forms of democratic empowerment may not be perceived as compensating for insufficient national representation and participation in the EU through national channels. Also, the chapter suggests that the EU’s ‘legitimacy deficit’ in the eyes of British voters is not reducible to a democratic deficit; rather, it is substantively based on a perception of the EU as contravening basic British national interests and the interests of those adversely harmed by processes of liberalization. Democratic empowerment initiatives cannot ensure EU legitimacy as long as the EU’s ‘output legitimacy’ is inadequate. The chapter therefore argues that while democratic empowerment is necessary for EU legitimacy, prosperity and continued integration, it is not a sufficient condition.