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Democratic politics in a globalising world: supranationalism and legitimacy in the European Union

Menon, Anand and Weatherill, Stephen (2007) Democratic politics in a globalising world: supranationalism and legitimacy in the European Union. LSE law, society and economy working papers (13-2007). Department of Law, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This paper addresses the relationship between legitimacy and international organisations via a consideration of the supranational principle that lies at the heart of the European Union. It is built on two arguments. First, that using State paradigms as the starting-point in measuring the legitimacy of the EU (or of any international organisations) is falsely to assume that the EU aspires to become a State. Second, that even in so far as there may be virtue in drawing on State practice to interrogate the legitimacy of the EU system, one must do so with full recognition of the failures of states in practice to live up to the worthy ideals which represent their own claims to legitimacy. The core of our analysis holds that the nature and impact of supranationalism can only be grasped in the context of an understanding of the nature of European politics as an interlocking system of European governance. To argue that the EU should become a nation state recreated at European level is, in our view, the road to (the EU’s) ruin. It would not work because of the enduring absence of adequate popular support for such a project. But nor should it work. Stripping out the supranational elements of the EU as part of a quest for accountability of the type found in States makes deeply implausible assumptions about the ability of Member states deprived of the ‘Community method’ to solve many of the (transnational) economic, political and social problems that confront them and their citizens, while also opening up the opportunities for ‘beggar-my-neighbour’ economic policies of the type controlled by EC trade law. Thus, we argue for an appreciation of the functions of both national and European institutions in meeting the challenge of securing legitimacy, an approach which connects to the normative reading of supranationalism that treats it as directed at ‘taming’, but neither eliminating, nor replacing, the Member states.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2009 15:05
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:43

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