RECON Online Working Paper 2007/01

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Europe in Transformation

How to Reconstitute Democracy?

Erik O. Eriksen and John Erik Fossum (ARENA, University of Oslo)


Europeanisation and globalisation are frequently held to undermine national democracy. What are then the prospects for democracy in the multi-level constellation that makes up the contemporary European political order? The European debate has taken the question of democracy beyond the nation state. But can there be democracy without nation and state?
The authors present three different models for how democracy can be reconstituted within the multileveled European context. It can be reconstituted at the national level, as delegated democracy with a concomitant reframing of the EU as a functional regulatory regime. Democracy can be reconstituted through establishing the EU as a multi-national state based on a common identity(ies) and solidaristic allegiance strong enough to undertake collective action. Democracy can also be reconstituted through the development of a post-national Union with an explicit cosmopolitan imprint. This entails an EU with some governmental functions, and which actively takes measures to become a regional cosmopolitan entity in a reformed world order. These are the only viable models of European democracy, as these are the only ones that can ensure equal membership in a self-governing polity. They differ however with regard to both applicability and robustness.


Cosmopolitanism Deliberative Democracy Democracy Democratisation Europeanisation Federalism Intergovernmentalism Legitimacy Multilevel Governance Supranationalism


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