Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law

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It is axiomatic that varying attitudes towards the existence or not of a democracy deficit will depend on the type of democracy which the observer believes does and should operate in the Community. Less obvious, but equally important, is the connection between a conception of the demos and a conception of democracy adverted to above.

It has been argued in this chapter that a republican conception of democracy can fit with the empirical data, furnish a normatively attractive democratic model and provide the most appropriate vision of democracy for the Community, given Weiler's own view of the European demos.

This is not to claim that the Community could always have been viewed in this manner. Nor that this democratic vision has been fully realised. Nor indeed that the seventeeth century republican model can be rendered applicable lock, stock and barrel in the modern day. The eighteenth century framers of the American Constitution modified republican doctrine to meet their own situation, as have modern American constitutional theorists, so too should we.

This thesis does maintain that elements of this model of democracy have been present in the Community decisionmaking structure for some time, that the model is particularly apposite now, that it can meet many of the fears of those concerned by reforms which increase majoritarian power.[105] It is also part of this argument that pursuit of the public good does not require or necessitate an attachment to some rigid set of common values.[106] As Sandel correctly notes, a civic conception of freedom does not render disagreement unnecessary. It offers "a way of conducting political argument, not transcending it."[107]

[105] See, e.g., Dehousse, "Constitutional Reform in the European Community: Are There Alternatives to the Majoritarian Avenue?" (1995) West European Politics 118. The very structure of the republican argument as applied to the Community, with the emphasis upon institutional balance played out in the manner articulated in the text, serves to meet many such fears.

[106] Identification of the public good is, in any event, rather easier in the context of the Community than in many other national systems because of the relative detail of the Treaties as compared with national constitutional documents. This is not to deny the point made earlier that the fleshing out of broad Treaty articles will itself entail value judgments. Nonetheless the Treaties simply contains much more to guide the legislative hand than do most constitutions.

[107] Sandel, Democracy's Discontent, America in Search of a Public Philosophy (1996), p. 320.

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