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 9: Regulation by litigation as a form of empowerment

Christoph Struenck

Abstract

Chapter 9 by Christoph Struenck deals with regulation by litigation as a form of empowerment. Do consumers and companies increasingly litigate to better enforce or even create consumer rights? This trend may empower individual citizens as consumers vis-à-vis companies, or the other way around. In the process, however, national democratically accountable political actors might lose power, and hence their voters. Nevertheless, there is barely evidence on public interest litigation in the European Union. In this chapter, patterns of consumer litigation are scrutinized. Relying on the framework of adversarial legalism, frequencies, goals, resources and achievements of litigation in six member states are highlighted. Contrary to influential concepts of ‘Eurolegalism’, public interest litigation in Europe is still very much entangled in national institutions. However, public interest litigation is no equivalent for comprehensive policy making. What it can best achieve is enforcing rights better, thereby raising awareness and saliency. This is an alternative way to empower citizens.

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