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Is the Democratic Deficit in the European Union More a Matter of (Mis)Perception than Reality?

6223 words (25 pages) Essay in Law

18/05/20 Law Reference this

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Introduction

This literature review intends to examine the contrasting viewpoints surrounding the issue of the democratic deficit in the EU. The question refers to whether the perceived democratic deficiencies within the institutions that comprise the EU is overstated rather than a cause for legitimate concern. To prevent offending the aims of this review, the analysis will refrain from siding with a specific argument in the debate; instead, comparing the viewpoints posed by differing academic opinions in the subject matter.

The Democratic deficit in the European Union

Jensen (2009) provides a useful starting point; he supports the view that the EU’s perceived democratic deficit is multi-faceted and is as engaging as sometimes confusing[1]. He argues that the debate has implications that reach beyond the EU and touches upon crucial issues of future developments within democratic theory[2].

Although it is difficult to identify when the concept known as the ‘democratic deficit’ was first conceived, Kauppi (2005) provides that the term was first coined in 1979 by the labour party member of parliament, David Marquand whilst he was referring to the EEC[3].  Beetham and Lord (2014) expand on this concept by discussing how the organisations incorporating the democratic rules in their administration systems considered the question of the deficit of democracy (or shortfall)[4]. Furthermore, Cheneval and Schimmelfennig (2013) explained that the democratic deficiencies occur when the supposed democratic organisations fall short on merging and implementing their beliefs of the democratic principles[5].

In contrast, it is believed by Schmidt (2013) that the domestic level responsibility and accountability falls upon the local governments to maintain the parliaments of their respective countries and develop policies to benefit their own populace[6]. To provide further elucidation, Follesdal and Koslowski (1998) argue that democratic legitimacy is achieved when a member state invests trust in its government[7]. Conversely, Abels and Mushaben (2012) described how the deficit emerged when member state voters were not receiving the support that was promised to them by their elected governments after the latter had been placed in power[8].

On the other hand, Cheneval and Schmmelfennig (2013) support the view that a deficit may arise in a situation whereby a government of a member state enacts policies, which lead to an unwanted outcome over the population of that respective nation, and as a result, such organisations start to exploit policies for their own needs[9]. Moreover, Hobolt (2012) explains a scenario where a government introduces a checks-and-balances system during the beginning, but the initiatives are gradually ignored by the same organisations with the passage of time[10]. Furthermore, the democratic deficit is further highlighted in a situation where the democratically legitimate policies implemented by a government are later declared obsolete, thus leading to the power distribution to become frustrated among individuals[11].

Other commentators, specifically Neyer (2010) argues that a democratic deficit does indeed exist in the EU[12] . However, Ruffert (2014) argues that although a democratic deficit exists within the EU, it does not pose any complications for member state governments[13]. Conversely, some commentators such as Saurugger (2010) in general terms, support the view that the democratic deficit is lessened by the fact that the EP occupies some control over the issues of member states and the public elects members of the EP[14]. Saurugger (2010) proposes that the EP is the only democratic institution within the EU’s framework since the population of a member state democratically elects all members of the EP[15]. However, despite the need for decisions to be taken by the elected bodies, they are currently being taken by non-elected entities, which are exploiting the democratic structure of the EU member states[16].

Cini and Borragán (2016) assert the view that the democratic deficit has created major problems for the state governments, including the overrepresentation of fractioned minorities on several occasions[17]. Such circumstances are leading up to intergovernmental decisions and policies that impose prejudices when challenging the European Communities[18].

However, Bellamy and Weale (2015) assert that electives supporting the political situation of the European Community are preventing the mentioning of the democratic deficit in the EU[19]. Caporaso (2018) expands on this by arguing that any discussion on the impact and consequences of the democratic deficit will lessen the motivation of eligible citizens to vote in elections[20]. This would translate to a lack of trust for the EP, which is essential for a stronger democratic government within EU Communities[21].

In contrast, Beetham and Lord (2014) suggested that the scholars on this subject matter have analysed the democratic legitimacy of the EU utilising two important- but distinctive magnitudes of the normative criteria[22]. Rohrschneider and Loveless (2010) argue that such criteria include output efficiency for the public and input contribution presented by the population. In their article, they expand further by arguing that the lack of constituents within the theoretical justification of the democratic deficit is now recognised as the “black box” objective for the government, which has an uncertain ratio among the input and the output of the conduct[23].

Furthermore, Cheneval and Schimmelfennig (2013) describe that the discourse over the issue of the EU’s democratic deficit is typically conducted in the domain of the national democratic structures of analysis[24]. However, in the study presented by Radaelli (2017), it was argued that member state governments would need a policy change or a modified structural application so that the cultured democratic issues can be resolved without creating a disturbance on a larger scale[25].

Adding a new strand to the debate, Moravcsik (2012) argues that the EU is a more ‘democratic’ republication rather than democratic through the connection of multiple demoi [26]. In addition, Follesdal and Koslowski (1998) provide that the concept of ‘democratic’ is well explained and well-structured when considered alongside the implications in the EP[27].

Moreover, the study presented by Schimmelfennig (2010) analysed the outcomes of the EU’s democratic deficit and it was asserted that not only is the deficit an improved version of other democratic scales, but alongside this, the outcomes provide an accurate insight and understanding[28].  Correspondingly, it is asserted by Schmidt (2013) that as far as the constitutional progress is concerned, the EU has prevailed when we consider the general standards of democracy, however, the major deficit is still established at national level[29]. Expanding on this point further, Baker (2012) supports the view that the EU’s democratic deficit has created major issues for the member state governments, whereby a small percentage of minorities of the country are being overrepresented on several occasions[30]. Such organisations are incorporating democratic rules within their management systems by modifying them in accordance with their sustainable conditions[31].

Cini and Borragán (2016), explain that the concept of the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’ is probably understood as an axiomatic measure of the system and thus political parties and governmental bodies are prompted to taking it in consideration more than ever before[32].  Furthermore, Crum (2013) mentioned that the democratic deficit is spoiling the authoritative position of the EP while the course of political depiction in modern democracies necessitates the participation and concern of political parties[33]. Nevertheless, this is nominally explained by the government policies and it is believed that the electoral democratic perceptions along with the party democratic structures are closely related to each other[34].

In the research conducted by Bovens et al (2010), he examined the sheer scaling of the persistent polity of a democracy by calling it a compulsory constituent and how this is the actual polity of the European Union Council[35]. This may prevent augmented support and reliance placed over the direct procedures of the democracy whilst simultaneously requiring the existence of mediators who can represent the objectives on behalf of the entire population[36].

When we consider the accounts linking the electoral and party democracy, it is explained in the article written by Armingeon and Baccaro (2012) that both structures are strengthened and accomplished by the utilisation of two distinctive perceptions, which are completely relevant within the European context of leading a government[37]. On the other hand, Follesdal and Hix (2006) disagree with the view that the EU does not suffer from a ‘democratic deficit’[38]. This disagreement is qualified on the basis that a democratic polity does not require contestation for political leadership and over policy[39]. In his discourse, Craig (2011) argues how the central issues concerning the rationale for the development of the EU, and the legitimacy of the resulting entity, persist[40].

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that the democratic deficit of the EU is a prevalent issue when we examine the arguments forwarded by EU scholars and academics. In their estimation, Metzger et-al observe that the implications of the EU’s democratic deficit are an issue of modern society in which the government of member states seek to take the actions required so that a reliable resource of creating a balance of power can be achieved[41].

Bibliography

 

Books

  1. Abels A and Mushaben JM, Gendering the European Union: New approaches to old democratic deficits. (1st edn,Palgrave Macmillan 2012)
  2. Baker S, ‘The evolution of European Union environmental policy.’ In S Baker In Politics of Sustainable Development, (1ST edn Routledge 2012)
  3. Beetham D and Lord C, Legitimacy and the European union (1st edn, Routledge 2014) 
  4. Bovens M, Curtin D and Hard P ‘T, The real world of EU accountability: what deficit? (1st edn, OUP 2010)
  5. Caporaso JA, The European Union: dilemmas of regional integration (1st edn, Routledge 2018)
  6. Cini M and Borragán NPS, European Union Politics (5th edn OUP 2016)
  7. Follesdal A and Koslowski P, Democracy and the European Union (1st edn, Springer 1998)
  8. Kauppi N, Democracy, social resources and political power in the European Union. (1st edn, MUP 2005) 1-224.
  9. Metzger J, Allmendinger P, and Oosterlynck S, Planning against the political: Democratic deficits in European territorial governance. (1st edn, Routledge 2014)
  10. Craig P.P ‘Integration, Democracy and Legitimacy’ in P Craig and G.D Burca, The Evolution of the EU Law (1st edn, OUP 2011) 13-40
  11. Radaelli CM, Technocracy in the European Union (1st edn, Routledge 2017)

Journals

  1. Armingeon K and Baccaro B. ‘Political economy of the sovereign debt crisis: The limits of internal devaluation.’ (2012) 41 (3) ILJ 254-275.
  2. Bellamy J and Weale A, ‘Political legitimacy and European monetary union: contracts, constitutionalism and the normative logic of two-level games.’ (2015) 22(2) JEPP 257-274.
  3. Crum B, ‘saving the Euro as the Cost of Democracy?’ (2013) 51 (4) JCMS 614-630
  4. Follesdal A and Hix S, ‘Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response to Majone and Moravcsik’ (2006) 44 (3) JCMS 533-562
  5. Francis Cheneval and Frank Schimmelfennig. ‘The case of democracy in the European Union.’ (2013) 51 (2) JCMS 334-350.
  6. Hobolt SB, ‘Citizen satisfaction with democracy in the European Union.’ (2012) 50 (1) JCMS 88-105.
  7. Jensen T, ‘The Democratic deficit of the European Union.’ (2009) CCIS, ETH Zurich and University of Zurich 1-8
  8. Moravcsik A, ‘Europe after the crisis: How to sustain a common currency.’ (2012) 91(3) FA 68
  9. Neyer J, ‘Justice, not democracy: legitimacy in the European Union.’ (2010) 48 (4) JCMS 903-921.
  10. Rohrschneider R and Loveless M, ‘Macro salience: How economic and political contexts mediate popular evaluations of the democracy deficit in the European Union.’ (2010) 72 (4) JP 1029 -1045
  11. Ruffert M, ‘The European debt crisis and European Union law.’ (2011) 48 (6) CMLR 1777- 1806
  12. Saurugger S, ‘The social construction of the participatory turn: The emergence of a norm in the European Union.’ (2010) 49 (4) EJPR 495
  13. Schmidt VA, ‘Democracy and legitimacy in the European Union revisited: Input, output and ‘throughput’. (2013) 61(1) PS 2-22.
  14. Schimmelfennig F, ‘The normative origins of democracy in the European Union: toward a transformationalist theory of democratization.’ (2010) 2(2) EPSR 211-233.

Part 2

Chosen dissertation question:-

The chosen dissertation question will revolve around a comparative analysis of current policies used to protect whistle-blowers within the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA). The proposed dissertation aims to compare and contrast such policies in various sectors and industries within the aforementioned nations.

The current working title for this research is as follows: ‘Breaking the silence- A comparative analysis on the protection of whistle-blowers when engaging in commercial transactions in the UK and USA.

This proposed dissertation is primarily focused on the above question, as the protection of whistle-blowers is increasingly vital in light of the recent scandals exposed regarding large companies and organisations. Thus, the subject matter falls into the criteria of contemporary research and the two chosen nations are a useful starting point, before embarking on further research if required.

Reason for choice: –

The proposed research topic is deeply interesting as it enables the utilisation of socio-legal analysis in a contemporary field, with the opportunity to expand further with potential PhD level research.

Issues intended to be covered: –

The proposed dissertation aims to achieve the following objectives. Firstly, to evaluate the similarities and differences between the current safeguards and policies used to protect whistle-blowers within the financial sector (public and private). For example, one key question to answer is whether there is substantially more protection for those who choose to expose unfair practices when acquiring a new company in the UK as opposed to the USA.

Secondly, the key commentators and their arguments will be analysed. For example, Vandekerckhove (2006) explains that the concept of ‘whistle-blower’ refers to a person who seizes the opportunity to expose any form of information or activity, which has the potential to be deemed by wider society as illegal or unethical within an organisation that is based within either the private sector or the public sector[42].

Within the UK specifically, the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998 provides protection for whistleblowing[43]. One important function of the Act includes the protection of employees who choose to make disclosure against their former employers despite the existence of a non-disclosure agreement[44].

In stark contrast, whistleblowing policy has been utilised by the state to prosecute those individuals who are perceived as threats to the public sector of the USA. The most notable example is that of the Espionage Act of 1917, which was used to prosecute Edward Snowden in 2013 for releasing confidential documents belonging to the National Security Agency (NSA)[45].

Lastly, the proposed thesis will aim to expand on this research by investigating the gaps in current policies. For example, there is underdeveloped protection for whistle-blowers who are employed under the National Health Service (NHS) within the UK and therefore there is very little literature surrounding this issue. If possible, new solutions may be proposed to resolve such research gaps and if required, further global comparisons could be made which would lead to closer examination into the subject matter, e.g. comparing Australian policies for the protection of whistle-blowers.

Bibliography

Table of Legislation (UK):-

  1. Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

Table of Legislation (US):-

  1. Espionage Act of 1917

Books: –

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Journals: –

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[1]  Thomas Jensen, ‘The Democratic deficit of the European Union’. (2009) CCIS, ETH Zurich and University of Zurich 1.

[2] Ibid 7.

[3] Niilo Kauppi, Democracy, social resources and political power in the European Union. (1st edn, MUP 2005) 1-224.

[4] David Beetham and Christopher Lord, Legitimacy and the European Union. (1st edn, Routledge 2014) 1-152.

[5] Francis Cheneval and Frank Schimmelfennig. ‘The case of democracy in the European Union’. (2013) 51 (2) JCMS 334.

[6] Vivien A Schmidt, ‘Democracy and legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, output and ‘throughput’. (2013) 61 (1) PS 22.

[7] Andreas Follesdal and Peter Koslowski, Democracy and the European Union. (1st  edn, Springer 1998) 1-107.

[8] Gabriele Abels and Joyce Marie Mushaben, Gendering the European Union: New approaches to old democratic deficits. (1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan 2012) 1-279.

[9] Francis Cheneval and Frank Schimmelfennig. ‘The case of democracy in the European Union.’ (2013) 51 (2) JCMS 350.

[10] Sara B Hobolt, ‘Citizen satisfaction with democracy in the European Union.’ (2012) 50 (1) JCMS 88-105.

[11] Ibid 88-105.

[12] Jürgen Neyer, ‘Justice, not democracy: legitimacy in the European Union.’ (2010) 48 (4) JCMS 903-921.

[13]  Matthias Ruffert, ‘The European debt crisis and European Union law.’ (2011) 48 (6) CMLR 1805.

[14] Sabine Saurugger, ‘The social construction of the participatory turn: The emergence of a norm in the European Union.’ (2010) 49 (4) EJPR 495

[15] ibid

[16] ibid

[17] Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán, European Union Politics (5th edn, OUP 2016) 1-512

[18] ibid

[19] Richard Bellamy and Albert Weale. ‘Political legitimacy and European monetary union: contracts, constitutionalism and the normative logic of two-level games.’ (2015) 22(2) JEPP 274.

[20] James A Caporaso, ‘The European Union: dilemmas of regional integration’. (1st edn, Routledge 2018) 1-174.

[21]ibid

[22] David Beetham and Christopher Lord, Legitimacy and the European Union. (1st edn, Routledge 2014) 1-152.

[23] Robert Rohrschneider and Matthew Loveless, ‘Macro salience: How economic and political contexts mediate popular evaluations of the democracy deficit in the European Union.’ (2010) 72 (4) JP 1029

[24] Francis Cheneval and Frank Schimmelfennig. ‘The case of democracy in the European Union.’ (2013) 51 (2) JCMS 350.

[25] Claudio M Radaelli, Technocracy in the European Union (1st edn, Routledge 2017) 1-184

[26] Andrew Moravcsik, ‘Europe after the crisis: How to sustain a common currency.’ (2012) 91(3) FA 68

[27] Andreas Follesdal, Andreas and Peter Koslowski, Democracy and the European Union. (1st edn, Springer 1998) 1-107.

[28] Frank Schimmelfennig, ‘The normative origins of democracy in the European Union: toward a transformationalist theory of democratization.’ (2010) 2(2) EPSR 211-233.

[29] Vivien A Schmidt, ‘Democracy and legitimacy in the European Union revisited: Input, output and ‘throughput’. (2013) 61(1) PS 2-22.

[30] S Baker, ‘The evolution of European Union environmental policy.’ In S Baker In Politics of Sustainable Development, (1st edn Routledge 2012) 101-116.

[31] ibid

[32] Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán, European Union Politics (5th edn OUP 2016) 1-512

[33]  Ben Crum, ‘Saving the Euro as the Cost of Democracy?’ (2013) 51 (4) JCMS 614-630

[34] ibid

[35] Mark Bovens, Deirdre Curtin and Paul ‘T Hart, The real world of EU accountability: what deficit? (1st edn, OUP 2010) 1-236.

[36] ibid

[37] Klaus Armingeon and Lucio Baccaro. ‘Political economy of the sovereign debt crisis: The limits of internal devaluation.’ (2012) 41 (3) ILJ 254-275.

[38] Andreas Follesdal and Simon Hix, ‘Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response to Majone and Moravcsik’ (2006) 44 (3) JCMS 533-562

[39] Ibid

[40] Paul P Craig, ‘Integration, Democracy and Legitimacy’ in P Craig and G.D Burca (eds.), The Evolution of the EU Law (OUP,2011) 13-40

[41] Jonathan Metzger, Philip Allmendinger, and Stijn Oosterlynck, Planning against the political: Democratic deficits in European territorial governance. (1st edn, Routledge 2014) 1-232

[42] Wim Vandekerckhove, Whistleblowing and Organizational Social Responsibility: A Global Assessment (1st edn, Routledge 2006) 1-356

[43] Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

[44] ibid

[45] Espionage Act of 1917

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