European Union Democratic Deficit

The European Union (EU) is a 28-state economic and political union in Europe. Because of Brexit, the number of states will soon be reduced to 27. The European Union lacks a constitution. In 2004, it was defeated. However, the procedures and treaties of the EU establish a constitutional framework. Furthermore, the EU makes policies. Member nations are not permitted to adopt policies on some areas. For example, EU nations are not permitted to determine interest rate policy for Eurozone members. However, in other areas, such as immigration policy, the EU collaborates with member states to set policies. Further, the foreign policy makes the EU member states dominant (Fisk slide 3).
Most of the EU institutions are not elected directly. However, EU is linked in various ways to the citizenry. One, political parties influence EU and national institutions. Two, civil society organization have access to meetings held by the EU. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that the primacy of the EU in several areas can be withdrawn. Since treaties do not only widen the EU, but they also increase its influence. Consequently, EU is not an International Organization because its political authority is significant. It is also not a state because it has a bureaucracy but lacks monopoly over applying force (Fisk slide 4). Therefore, EU is a political system. However, open contests to gain political authority and policy agenda direction is not present in the EU (Hix 89). Hence, the European Union should come up with strategies to fix the democratic deficit that exists.
Democratic Deficit
The term democratic deficit is used by individuals who argue that the institutions of the EU and their procedures of decision-making lack democracy. Further, the political analysts argue that the EU institutions and procedures of making decisions are not accessible to ordinary citizens since the EU procedures and institutions are complex. According to Hix and Hoyland, integration boosts national executives and EU institutions at the expense of parliaments at the national level. The EU integration encourages executive dominance. Consequently, increased European Parliament authority fails to compensate for the national parliaments that are weaker (140).
Lack of Open Political Contests
Additionally, there are no European elections. For a good number of years, politics has been a term used to refer to open contests to acquire political authority and to direct policy agenda. However, in the EU there are no open contests. The lack of elections was justifiable when the main subject on the agenda of the EU was on ways to construct the basic economic and political architecture of a polity in the continental-scale. The construction of a continental-scale polity required agreements that were unanimous amongst all mainstream political traditions and member states in Europe. This was to ensure that all mainstream political groups and all countries benefitted from the basic policy and institutional set up of the EU (Hix 89).
However, today some groups have lost from the integration in Europe because the EU policy agenda has shifted. The EU policy agenda has shifted from polity-construction to what should be pursued by social and economic policies. The shift has triggered political conflict as the EU losers and winners from the EU policies take alternate sides in the debates. Nevertheless, elites in Europe will be afraid of EU policy process being politicized openly. National party leaders and ministers of the government will not want to reveal they fail to win any critical battle publicly. However, they ought to fight this temptation as the citizens demand political contests and the losers/winners are publicized (Fisk, Is There a Democratic Deficit? Slide 3).
A good number of individuals are turned off by politics because it appears nasty, divisive and parochial. However, there are positive reasons why competition in politics is central to a process that is democratic. Since a contest to gain control of political authority and over policy agenda direction expects elites to disclose their policy preferences to the public. Political contests also encourage leaders to take part in the innovation of policies and link - up thinking over several policy issues. Further, political contests allow citizens to pinpoint losers and winners of policy outcomes. The citizens can assess whether the public office holders have delivered on the promises they made during elections. Citizens are also able to choose whether to support rival leaders to the next level of the continuing competition (Hix 90).
EU is too removed from Citizens
For years, the assessment of the relationship between citizens of Europe and the political system in Europe has primarily concentrated on the support or lack of support for the process of integration. Empirical indicators differentiate between the distinct components of the European system for example community and the varied attitudes held towards the EU. The varied attitudes may be evaluative, cognitive or affective. The researchers for a long time held that the theory that was dominant was that the citizens of Europe lacked awareness of the process of integration. The public appeared unaware of the matters at stake. The EU issues from the citizens' point of view resembled matters of foreign policy (Duchesne 398).
In contrast, research shows that the upper socio-economic classes strongly supported the European integration. This configuration of enthusiasm from citizens of the upper socio-economic classes but the widespread indifference of members of the public was referred to as permissive consensus. The above situation became different in the mid-1990s after the debate of ratification of the Maastricht treaty, long-term integration process, and European citizenship. Survey data depicted that the attitudes of the European towards the EU are becoming highly divergent. Correlatively, attitudes favoring the EU were believed to conflict with the national values of patriotism. Most of the published articles argue that there has been a rising antagonism between European integration supporters and those citizens in support of national identity (Duchesne 399).
Today, some political analysts continue to argue that the European and national identities are contradictory. To put it in another way, a national identity that is strong tends to disrupt a European identity development. In contrast, most of the analysts support the idea of a partial cumulative relationship between European and national identities at the individual level. Further analysis shows that the national identities have negative effects on the European integration support. However, this depends on whether the national identity is inclusive or exclusive (Duchesne 400).
Policy drift
Policy drift leads to too many policies that most people do not support. The reason people fail to support the policies passed by the EU is the fact that they are not involved. The EU process of making policies is complex. The active players in the process are national, European, and sub-national actors. The policy making process differs depending on the matter at hand. Moreover, the role of the state and the EU varies. In the EU executive politics, member states have given substantial policy implementation, agenda setting, and regulatory powers to the European Commission. However, as with any authority delegated, member states (principals) are always afraid that their agents (commission) will fail to implement their preferences faithfully. Therefore, the agents of the principals do not take the time to consult with their citizens. The agents make decisions on their behalf and in some cases lack of consultation is not the only reason why EU policies lack citizens' support. Further, there is the problem of over-representation of larger states. Over-representation undermines the voting preference of the less represented starting making the policies passed non-consensual (Fisk, Institutions in the European Union slide13).
Compare/Contrast Assessments of the Democratic Deficit
In contrast, Moravcsik argues that the democratic deficit of the EU is misplaced. The operations of the EU are judged against existing industrial democracies that are already advanced. Instead, the political analysts should be judging the EU against parliamentary or plebiscitary democracy. Once the political analysts do this, then they will see that the EU is legitimate. The EU institutions are constrained tightly by constitutional checks and balances. The constitutional check and balances involve fiscal limits, narrow mandates, concurrent voting requirements, super-majoritarian and separation of powers (602).
The appearance of the EU of insulation that is exceptional reflects the functional subset it performs. The subset functions include constitutional adjudication, central banking, economic diplomacy, civil prosecution, and technical administration. These are issues of low electoral salience that do not require the direct participation of citizens of the principals. This is why they are delegated in the national systems. Therefore, EU redresses biases, but they do not create them in the deliberation, political representation, and output (Moravcsik 603).
Democratic Legitimacy of the EU
Most scholarly commentators, politicians and members of the European public agree that the EU is affected by a severe deficit of democracy. There is a wide range of reasons why the above perception is widespread. However, a continental organizational scope will without a doubt appear distant from the individual citizen in Europe. Moreover, as a multinational organization, it lacks the foundation of a common culture, history, symbolism, and discourse on which most people learn. However, none of these reasons need to be used to disqualify the EU from being viewed as a body that is democratically legit (Moravcsik 604).
Additionally, when analysts criticize the absence of EU democratic legitimacy, they point to the body's nature of policy outputs and the mode of political representation. Undoubtedly, there is only one EU branch that is elected directly that is the European Parliament. Though stronger than it was before, the EP is one among the four major actors in the EU process of making policies. The elections of the EU institutions are apathetic affairs, decentralized, and involve a relatively small number of selected voters from among national parties. The voters selected depend on the national issues at hand.
At the EU there is little discussion of issues in Europe, let alone transnational deliberation that is ideal. Consequently, the European Commission (EC) enjoys a powerful agenda-setting and regulatory coordinator role which makes it be perceived as a technocracy. The European Court of Justice is made up of 15 judges who are appointed, and it is unusually powerful. The most powerful institution is the Council of Ministers (Moravcsik 605).
The council of ministers brings together administrative officials, diplomatic representatives, and national ministers from the member states. Normally, the council of ministers deliberates in secret. However, even if the three pillars deliberate policies without being directly accountable to the voters, it does not make the EU democratically deficit. After all, the EU link is tenuous and the interaction mode technocratic or diplomatic to satisfy a good number of observers (Moravcsik 605).
National and European Identities
Further, there is no longer any controversy among scholars and policymakers on the issue of individuals holding multiple social identities. It is possible for people to develop a sense of belonging to their gender, Europe, their nation-state among others. It is not right to conceptualize European identity in terms that are zero-sum. Also, making assumptions that a person's increased European identity automatically reduces one's other communities or national identity is not in order. The nation and Europe are both communities that have been imagined and people can develop the feeling of belonging to the two communities. Citizens in Europe don't have to choose any primary identification. Moreover, survey data analyses and social psychological experiments suggest that people who identify strongly with nation-states may also feel that they belong to Europe (Risse 40).
From the above arguments, it is hard to ignore that there are democratic deficits in the European Union. First, there are no open political contests, and open political contests are the base of democracy. There can be no justification for citizens' noninvolvement in decision making whether the EU institutions are complex or not. A citizen should be given the opportunity to support or refuse ideas before they are passed into policies. After all, the role of the EU has changed from polity development to nation-state affairs. The policies being developed are directly affecting the citizens, and there is a need for an open policy making process.
Ways the Eu Can Use to Address the Democratic Deficit
It is clear that the problem with EU institutions lies in the lack of open politics. The organization should come up with policies that support political competition to address the democratic deficit. Political competition is desirable to the EU for several reasons. Firstly, political competition encourages policy innovation and combined policy making. Some politicians may be inherently good at coming up with policy ideas. However, political leaders are no better innovators that common citizens. Secondly, political competition encourages the development of coalitions that are cross-institutional. Cross-institutional coalitions will help alleviate EU policy gridlock and promote kind of joined-up policy thinking (Hix 100).
Thirdly, the political competition offers media incentives so that they can cover what happens in Brussels. Today, media coverage on EU politics both on print media and national television is very little. Fourth, political deliberations allow people to develop an opinion about policies. Currently, the views of citizens' on most policy questions are developed partially since most citizens do not get access to enough information about the possible consequences of change in policy. However, increased political openness will increase the information available to citizens (Hix 103).
From the arguments above, it is clear that there is a need for structural changes in the EU institutions. Democratic deficits' are visible in the EU politics and the EU policy making process. Therefore, to change the current situation, the institution's politics need to adopt open politics policy. Citizens ought to be involved in the activities taking place in the EU so that even as they develop identities, they are aware of what the EU is all about.

Works Cited
Duchesne, Sophie. "Waiting for a European Identity ... Reflections on the Process of Identification with Europe." Perspectives on European Politics and Society (2008): 397-410.
Fisk, David. "Institutions in the European Union." POLI120H: European Integration. California: TED, 2017.
-. "Is There a Democratic Deficit?" POLI 120H. California: TED, 2017.
-. "POLI 120H." What id the European Union? California: TED, 2017.
Hix, S. and B. Hoyland. The Political System of the European Union. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Hix, Simon. What's Wrong with the European Union and How to fix it. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008.
Moravcsik, Andrew. "In Defence of the 'Democratic Deficit': Reassessing Legitimacy in the European Union." JCMS (2002): 603-624.
Risse, Thomas. A community of Europeans. New York: Cornell Up, 2010.

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