Jour fixe 09/02/2009

News from Feb 03, 2009

Legitimacy in the Multilevel European Polity

 On Monday, 9th February 2009, Prof. Fritz W. Scharpf, Director Emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, will present his Paper on Legitimacy in the Multilevel European Polity at the Jour Fixe. 


Time: 4pm-6pm

Place: Ihnestraße 26, Room 202 (second floor)





In order to be simultaneously effective and liberal, governments must normally be able to count on voluntary compliance ─ which, in turn, depends on the support of socially shared legitimacy beliefs. In Western constitutional democracies, such beliefs are derived from the distinct but coexistent traditions of “republican” and “liberal” political philosophy. When judged by these criteria, the European Union ─ if considered by itself ─ appears as a thoroughly liberal polity which, however, lacks all republican credentials. But this view (which seems to structure the debates about the “European democratic deficit”) ignores the multilevel nature of the European polity, where the compliance of citizens is requested, and needs to be legitimated, by member states – whereas the Union appears as a “government of governments” which is entirely dependent on the voluntary compliance of its member states. What matters primarily, therefore, is the compliance-legitimacy relationship between the Union and its member states ─ which, however, is normatively constrained by the basic compliance-legitimacy relationship between member governments and their constituents. Given the high consensus requirements of European legislation, member governments could and should be able to assume political responsibility for European policies in which they had a voice, and to justify them in “communicative discourses” in the national public space. This is not necessarily true of “non-political” policy choices imposed by the European Court of Justice. By enforcing its “liberal” program of liberalization and deregulation, the ECJ may presently be undermining the “republican” bases of member-state legitimacy. Where this is the case, open non-compliance is a present danger, and political controls of judicial legislation may be called for.