Discourses on the legitimacy of the EU, and especially its democratic deficit, have been a perennial issue for many years but have become significantly more urgent and pressing in times of crisis and austerity. At both ends of the political spectrum, claims about the illegitimacy of current EU governance and regulation have found broader resonance, expressed both in public manifestations of discontent combined with claims for alternative forms of legitimacy and in electoral successes of radical right and radical left parties across Europe. In this context, questions of justice, fairness and European solidarity have equally been raised. The concept of justice is inherently connected with the rule of law and entails a right to justification. Fundamental rights are also key in this regard. The European Stability Mechanism and the Fiscal Compact have been regarded by some as emblematic challenges not only to the rule of law but also to democratic governance. What is more, especially in the light of some recent election results in EU Member States, it seems as if not only the legitimacy of certain policies and institutions have been questioned, but also fundamental issues concerning the locus and exercise of popular sovereignty have been placed on the agenda. The specific challenge is to take the cues from such developments and ensuing contestations over sovereignty and legitimacy in order to reappraise discourses about democratic legitimacy on the one hand, and the rule of law and justice as increasingly thorny issues for the European public space on the other.
Última modificación: 13/07/2017