Edited by David Levi-Faur and Frans van Waarden
Chapter 12: Is democratic empowerment enough? The lessons of Brexit for the future of the European Union
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.
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