EU Legitimacy and new Forms of Citizen Engagement


  • Andrew Power


e-government, e-consultation, European Union, democratic deficit, legitimacy, cyberparliament


The purpose of this paper is to review the arguments and examine the case for the legitimacy of the European Union (EU) and its institutions. In terms of the scope of the paper the author sought to, examine the literature in this area, engage with current issues, and speak with practitioners. This paper was written in the months leading up to the 2009 elections to the European Parliament. A number of interviews were done including two Irish members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who were standing for re‑election at the time. This was done to ground some of the ideas brought forward by the literature in the experience of those most directly involved. The paper goes on to look at some of the approaches to democratising the EU such as the way in which the EU has used information and communication technologies (ICT) to connect with the citizens of Europe. The author concludes that, while the EU does not conform to ideal models of legitimacy and accountability, it is evolving in that direction and a case can be made that the EU is at least as accountable as the nation states of which it is composed. It is also the view of the author that developments in social networking and virtual environments, offer states and politicians the opportunity to better engage with citizens and contribute to the speed of this evolution.



1 Mar 2010