Democratic Governance and Representation in Europe
Full course description
The EU has been diagnosed of suffering from a democratic deficit (Follesdal and Hix 2006) and lately more in particular from a representation deficit (Bellamy and Kroeger 2013). The EU thus falls short on premises that are “shared by a broad range of democratic theorists” (Follesdal and Hix 2006). In order to overcome these deficits, attention both by academics and policy-makers has turned to four major channels of representation: 1. Strengthening and up-grading the European Parliament (EP) especially by way of the extension of the Ordinary Legislative Procedure, where the EP is co-legislator together with the Council. Moreover the Lisbon Treaty additionally strengthens the role of the EP in the process of selecting the next Commission President. Somewhat paradoxically, however,, the consistent upgrade of the EP has gone hand-in-hand with a decreasing turnout for the EP elections. What we also see is that in order for the EP to be able to cope with the increasing legislative burden is that unelected officials increasingly play a key role within the EP (Neuhold and Dobbels 2014) ; 2. The Lisbon Treaty has formally recognised the role of National Parliaments (NPs) and these have been given new powers as “watchdogs” of the EU decision-making process, by way of the so-called Early Warning System (EWS); 3. The Commission has increasingly taken centre-stage in a model of expert- and good governance. In order to reflect its continued representativeness of “European citizens” it has increasingly consulted civil society organisations (CSOs). CSOs have been seen to channel citizen’s interests in a more participatory manner (Bellamy and Kroeger 2013) 4. Last but not least, more direct forms of citizen involvement, such as the citizens’ initiatives and referenda have also taken root at the EU level. This Seminar will address all four aspects of “democratic representation” in the EU and explore the tension between democratic and administrative governance in interactive lectures and literature debates. Research papers can focus on one or two dimensions of democratic representation. Examples of topics include in-depth (comparative) case studies on the role of national parliaments and how they make use of their Lisbon powers or on the involvement of CSOs in selected policy-fields and the extent to which this helps to overcome the EUs alleged “representation deficit”. Another option would be to probe into the role unelected officials play within directly elected institutions and how this impacts both on the policy process concretely and also on more normative questions of representative democracy. Papers can also explore quantitatively what citizens expect in terms of democratic representation and European governance, how they identify with processes of European integration, or how turnout rates and results of EP elections vary across EU member states and regions, for example.
After having concluded this module the participants of the RMES: Will have acquired advanced knowledge and understanding of the European integration process in its political and institutional dimensions as well as state of the art scientific research in the multi- and interdisciplinary field of European Studies; Will be able to integrate and combine substantive knowledge, theories and methods from the diverse field of European Studies in a well-reasoned manner; Will have acquired in-depth and specialist knowledge and understanding of EU multi-level governance, including wider debates about the democracy, legitimacy and accountability of EU governance from a local, regional and international perspective; Will, at the same time, have acquired advanced knowledge and understanding of a range of theories and concepts related to democratic theory; Will be able to compare, select, integrate, and apply the appropriate theories, concepts and scientific research methods political science and related academic disciplines to analyse new research puzzles and questions related to the process of EU politics and questions of democratic legitimacy in the EU and from a comparative perspective; Will then be able to integrate and apply substantive knowledge, theories and methods from the multi- and interdisciplinary field of European Studies to new research puzzles so as to facilitate substantive, theoretical and methodological innovation; Will have identified and formulated new topics and questions relevant to state of the art research in the field of European Studies; Will be able to apply this knowledge and questions to concrete research (projects) on issues and problems of democracy within multi-level systems; Will thus have acquired advanced knowledge of how to integrate substantive, theoretical and methodological knowledge and apply it within the research process; Will be able critically appraise the quality of various source materials; to design, plan and implement their independent research projects; Will be able to integrate substantive and methodological knowledge as a basis to develop evidence-based arguments; Will on the basis of these insights be able to formulate judgements on more normative and conceptual issues relating to questions of democratic legitimacy in the EU (and beyond); Will be able to communicate their findings to others - fellow students, scientific staff and practitioners - discuss these in a critical manner; Will have the learning skills that allow them to continue to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous and at the same time translate some of their findings to other research domains.
For each research seminar the syllabus provides a series of journal articles and/or book chapters.