European Democracy Between Two Ages

Paul Magnette

in The Fundamentals of EU Law Revisited

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199226221
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191696206 | DOI:

Series: Collected Courses of the Academy of European Law

European Democracy Between Two Ages

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Among the drafters of the constitutional treaty, the rejection of the EU's proposed constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands prompted bitter reactions. That the citizens rejected a treaty that aimed at curbing the EU's democratic deficit seemed to echo the paradox underlined by Tocqueville in The Ancien Regime and the Revolution: ‘Experience teaches us that the most dangerous moment for a bad government is usually when it starts reforming itself ’. Though the drafters' disappointment is understandable, the comparison is misleading. The constitutional treaty may have been a major step in the process of bringing EU issues, opened at Maastricht, into the public domain but it would be simplistic and erroneous to regard the pre-Maastricht form of EU government as non-democratic. This chapter argues that the period opened by Maastricht, of which the constitutional saga is the last step to date, is rather marked by the passage from a democratic logic to another one. The problem today is how to reconcile the liberal philosophy, extolling ‘democracy among nations’ that has nourished the EU since its origins, and the republican desire for the emergence of a ‘continental democracy’, a concept that has gained increasing momentum over the last 15 years.

Keywords: EU; constitutional treaty; democracy; Maastricht

Chapter.  11257 words. 

Subjects: EU Law

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