Federal Governance in the United States and the European Union: A Policy Network Perspective

John Peterson and Laurence J. O'Toole

in The Federal Vision

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199245000
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599996 | DOI:
 Federal Governance in the United States and the European Union: A Policy Network Perspective

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The authors start by pointing out that as institutional forms for the governance of polities on a massive scale in the USA and the EU, networks face serious and potentially disabling challenges in terms of legitimacy. Network forms of governance tend to advantage experts or sophisticated actors who are familiar with all levels of government in federal systems, as opposed to ordinary citizens. To ignore the normative questions about input legitimacy to which network governance gives rise to risks weakening the democratic foundations of the federalist contracts that bind together levels of governance, public, quasi‐public, and private actors, and states and citizens in Europe and America. The argument is presented in four sections: first, an explanation is given of why network forms of governance have proliferated and the legitimacy issues that arise are considered, yielding a set of assessment criteria to be applied in framing analyses of legitimacy in different, real‐world political systems; second, an examination is made of networks in the EU; third, an assessment is offered of network structures in American governance; last, network structures in the two polities are compared and contrasted, highlighting both critical issues and network features with implications for legitimacy, as well as ways in which the democratic deficit that plagues network forms of governance might be closed.

Keywords: EU; federal systems; federalism; governance; input legitimacy; legitimacy; network governance; network structures; policy networks; USA

Chapter.  14790 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union

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