Democracy and Legitimacy in the Shadow of Purposive Competence

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Series Details Vol.21, No.1, January 2015, p2-22
Publication Date January 2015
ISSN 1351-5993 (Print) / 1468-0386 (Online)
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This article argues that the way EU competences are defined plays an important role in the social legitimacy problems of the EU. The fact that its powers are purposive compels the EU to privilege narrow functional goals and act in a highly focused way. This has the consequence that politics cannot be meaningful within the EU, since essential choices of direction are pre-empted.

It also has the consequence that EU law is over-instrumental and lacks expressive qualities, alienating the public. Now that EU law is so broad, the same defects are being imposed increasingly on Member States.

Without another form of conferred power, the legitimacy of the EU, and of law and government in Europe, will be increasingly undermined. The constitutional DNA, which has been a functional success for Europe, may also be its political nemesis.

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