During the last two decades enthusiasts of the European project have been accused of taking for granted the Union’s commitments to democracy and overlooking the fact that its decision-making processes often make people feel disengaged with politics. The dissolution of the permissive consensus which provided thrust to European integration in the first decades of the European Union (EU) is commonly thought to have prompted disaffection with the European project and intense debate around the EU’s democratic deficit (Follesdal and Hix, 2006; Hix, Noury, and Roland, 2007; Hooghe and Marks, 2008). Hence, since the adoption of the Maastricht treaty which opened the path for the European Parliament (EP) to gain more and more competences, the need to connect political decisions with EU citizens has been a prime concern for both policymakers and scholars. Mitigating the democratic deficit—the discrepancy between the Union’s commitment to democracy and its political practices—has legitimized countless campaigns meant to bring the EU closer to its citizens and raise its profile. Simultaneously, the politicization of European issues and the polarization of European political debates by political parties across member states have raised significant question marks regarding the EU’s commitment to democratic values and have opened decision-making processes to democratic scrutiny.
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