The European Economic and Social Committee: towards deliberative democracy via a functional assembly
The scarce literature on the European Economic and Social Committee has mostly paid attention to its institutional position and any influence it may have. Contrary to such an ‘output approach’ this article focuses on the ‘input’ of the ESC, i.e. its representative role. It argues that the ESC was set up by the Rome Treaty to ensure the agreement of the main socio-economic actors in what was predominantly an elite-driven and technocratic European project. Though the increasing involvement of the European Communities in more policy domains has led to increased powers for the European Parliament as a source of legitimisation for the European polity, this has not pre-empted the representative role of the ESC. The ESC provides a forum for functional representation in addition to legitimacy based on territorial representation. Conceptualised as a form of ‘deliberative democracy via a functional assembly’, the role of the ESC is defined not only vis-à-vis the Parliament but also vis-à-vis other forms of functional participation.
Economic and Social Council; institutions; democracy; legitimacy; civil society; political science
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