A New Kind of Legitimacy for a New Kind of Parliament – The Evolution of the European Parliament
The Treaty on European Union (EU) has on the one hand increased democratic legitimacy of the integration process by confering new powers to the European Parliament (EP) - legitimacy viewed as an attribute-, while on the other hand acceptance by the citizens - legitimacy conceived as orientation - dropped considerably after Maastricht. This situation hints at a paradox and highlights the need for a more complex approach to the issue of legitimacy of the EU and the role played by the EP. As a first step, we identify different views on the role of the European Parliament: a federalist and a realist one. Further, they are contrasted with empirical findings about the role and function of the EP after Maastricht, using three main dimensions: policy-making, system-development and interaction with the citizens. Taking into account the results of this inquiry, we present a new perspective on the EP based upon a view of the EU as a new kind of political system characterised by fusion. It is a major feature of this new kind of political system that national, subnational and supranational actors merge their instruments to 'produce' political decisions. The result is a mixed polity whose legitimacy is neither based on a collective personality called 'the people' nor on the single peoples of the member states only, but on a 'pluralistic citizenship' as a 'unity-in diversity'. Legitimacy as an attribute must be defined in new terms deviant from national experiences, entailing - at least partly - a lack of transparency, increasing complexity and growing differentiation. Is Legitimacy possible despite these apparant drawbacks? This question hints at an ambiguous, but also 'productive' tension within the EU system as a whole and with regard to the role and position of the EP in particular.
legitimacy; European Parliament; Treaty on European Union; European citizenship; accountability; Amsterdam Treaty; co-decision procedure; democracy; democratization; federalism; institutionalism; institutions; integration theory; intergovernmentalism; political representation; political science
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