Beyond Devolution: From Subsidiarily to Mutuality

Marc Landy and Steven M. Teles

in The Federal Vision

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199245000
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599996 | DOI:
 Beyond Devolution: From Subsidiarily to Mutuality

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In this chapter, Landy and Teles take a strong normative stance in favour of decentralization. They echo a point made on economic grounds by Scharpf in Ch. 13, namely, that the role at the federal level should be to allow states to function better as a democracy; this they call ‘the principle of mutuality’. Accordingly, ‘It should be the obligation of each level of government as it participates in joint decision‐making to foster the legitimacy and capacity of the other. Local government contributes to central government by taking the brunt of the burden of citizen‐demands and of providing a coherent and properly constrained voice for citizen grievances. To do so adequately, it must be both responsive and capable. Central government has the responsibility to facilitate and encourage the ability of lower‐level governments to act as sites for deliberation and administration’. This leads Landy and Teles to stress the ways in which European Union powers need to be increased precisely and only to the extent to which this facilitative role is called for. In the end, they can see only classic indirect accountability as the way of enhancing the democratic legitimacy of the EU: ‘The EU needs democratic legitimacy, but that legitimacy should derive from its ability to protect the possibility for democratic government in its Member States, not from the largely fruitless mission of democratizing itself’.

Keywords: decentralization; democracy; democratic government; democratic legitimacy; devolution; EU; governance; indirect accountability; legitimacy; mutuality; subsidiarity

Chapter.  6068 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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