Europe at 50. A Midlife Crisis. Democratic Deficit and Sovereignty Surplus

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The paper argues that the resilient democratic deficit of the EU is closely connected to its equally longstanding ‘sovereignty surplus.’ The division and competition of sovereignty between member states and the EU has created a more crowded space of overlapping polities, each requiring democratic legitimation but each also with the propensity to detract from the democratic capacity of the others. Secondly, the very gravity and divisiveness of what is at stake for the various parties involved and positions implicated in the sovereignty surplus renders the question of the proper diagnosis and treatment of the ensuing democratic deficit highly controversial and, indeed, sharply polarized. Thirdly and finally, and bringing us to the current constitutional controversy and mid-life crisis, the sovereignty surplus also makes the question of praxis - of how to secure the very ground of initiative necessary to develop and act on a more inclusively resolved diagnosis and treatment of the democratic deficit – whatever that may be, difficult if not intractable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages11
JournalIrish Journal of European Law
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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