Democratic Empowerment in the European Union
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Democratic Empowerment in the European Union

Edited by David Levi-Faur and Frans van Waarden

This book looks at democratic empowerment via institutional designs that extend the political rights of European citizens. It focuses on three themes: first, the positive and negative effects of the European Union institutional design on the political rights of its citizens; second, challenges for democratic regimes across the world in the 21st 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 within the Union.
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Chapter 8: Competition law and democratic empowerment in the European Union

Anna Gerbrandy and Rutger Fransen


Chapter 8 by Anna Gerbrandy and Rutger Fransen deals with competition law and the European Union (EU) democratic deficit. The chapter discusses the constraints imposed by competition rules on the process of democratic empowerment of citizens in the EU. In particular, it examines the various ways in which civil society and individual citizens are involved in the increasing push for responsible business conduct (RBC) initiatives and how the current approach to the application of EU competition rules has had a restrictive influence on the implementation of these initiatives. This task first involves understanding the EU competition rules that are relevant for cooperation mechanisms between firms when seeking to attain public aims (in particular, for environmental protection and sustainability). In doing so, the chapter identifies barriers which EU citizens, including companies, face when implementing RBC initiatives. Second, the chapter examines this so-called ‘competition law problem’ through the underlying theories on European integration, the role of private firms as political actors, as well as the relationship between member states and the EU when implementing national policy goals through RBC initiatives. Finally, the chapter will provide an outlook on how to ensure the focus on ‘market’ Europe does hinder the movement toward greater democratic involvement of EU citizens in setting social and environmental policy goals.

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