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The Democratic Deficit of the EU: Two Schools Under One Roof

  • Adnan MahmutovicEmail author
  • Nermina Memic-Mujagic
Part of the Balkan Yearbook of European and International Law book series


In the ongoing debate over the democratic credentials of the European Union, two competing viewpoints have emerged over time: one that characterizes the EU as conforming to the democratic expectations in the larger public discourse and the other that it does not conform to those expectations. When looked at over the time span of almost three decades, each viewpoint has made significant contributions to the ongoing debate as to the future course of the EU. In the process, each approach has evolved into what could be loosely be characterized as an independent school of thought. For this paper, the former school will be termed the Democratic Deficit School (DDS) while the latter will be called the Non-Conformist School (NCS). Employing a limited content analysis of the various arguments mustered for both positions, this paper examines the strengths, weakness, divergences and compatibilities between these respective schools of thought.

Drawing on arguments from both the DDS and NCS approaches, the paper argues in favor of an emergent DDS paradigm to explain the current realities of the existing institutional architecture and the (often) competing priorities of member states and their respective supranational and intergovernmental visions. The undergirding thesis, here, is that the NCS school of thought, while offering compelling reasoning, especially in accounting for the early events in EU economic integration, fails to fully consider its unique, sui-generis nature as a hybrid entity in explaining later transitions as the EU has taken on greater roles in the political arena. The tangible result is that its technocratic, utilitarian aspects of the entity are mistaken for a loss of democratic representation and impulse within the EU itself.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd UniversityKhobarKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.University of SarajevoSarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina

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