Chapter

International Economic Integration, the Nation‐State, and Democracy: An Impossible Trinity?

Giandomenico Majone

in Dilemmas of European Integration

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199274307
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603310 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199274304.003.0009
International Economic Integration, the Nation‐State, and Democracy: An Impossible Trinity?

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Critics of globalization argue that economic integration threatens democracy and national sovereignty by restricting the range of public goods political leaders can offer to their voters. However, the experience of the EU shows that it is possible to integrate economically without eliminating either national sovereignty or the welfare state. This is not to say that the welfare state is not facing serious challenges, but these are largely endogeneous (unfavorable demographic trends, growing popular resistance to high levels of taxation, etc.). In the EU, the problem is not a diminution of democracy at the national level, but a democratic deficit at the supranational level. Representative democracy can only flourish at national level, but supranational institutions can improve its quality by disciplining the discretion of national governments.

Keywords: agenda control; capital mobility; deep integration; shallow integration; diminished-democracy syndrome; market-preserving federalism; representative democracy; tax harmonization; transnational constitutionalism

Chapter.  8117 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union

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