The Different Angles of the European Democracy

Chances and Challenges of Achieving Democratic Legitimacy in Europe

  • Sándor Lénárd
doi: 10.32559/et.2023.3.2


The history of the institutionalised cooperation in Europe now looks back to more than seven decades. What differentiates this cooperation from other international organisations is the common heritage and destiny the European countries share and the community they have found in a high level of integration. However, since the very beginning of this cooperation, there have been debates about the best method and way to express common European positions. Part of this debate is the question of the democratic legitimacy of the Union institutions. As it is set out in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union, democracy is not only a fundamental value of the Member States, but also an expectation towards the European Union. Even though the institutional setting of the European democracy has gone a long way in the past seven decades, the question of democratic legitimacy is still being one of the key subjects and future challenges within the framework of the currently ongoing discussions on the future of Europe. There is no shortage of reform proposals, nevertheless, the main debate has been rather one-sided as it envisions only one avenue to decrease the so-called “democratic deficit” and strengthen the European policy space. What is the function of democracy in the context of the European integration and how can it represent a European position or serve as a check over the Union institutions? What institutions could be able to create a bridge between the peoples of the Member States and the European institutions? This paper seeks to outline the different responses to these questions. To this end, it outlines the theoretical background and institutional evolution of democratic legitimacy in the European integration while seeks to evaluate the current proposals and envision the alternative ones.


democratic legitimacy, subsidiarity national institutions in the European cooperation democratic deficit European Council parliamentary scrutiny yellow card procedure green card procedure


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