Rotation in the Council – Bringing Citizens Closer to the EU?

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Series Details No.6, October 2006
Publication Date 2007
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The new "Lisbon Treaty", which was tied up at the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) 2007 and which shall enter into force in January 2009, seeks to rebalance the institutional structure of the European Union (EU) and thereby to recalibrate the EU's various sources of legitimacy. A central goal is to reduce the "EU-citizens gap" and thus to enhance the EU's supranational and social legitimacy. This paper examines the impact the reforms might have on one of the most influential actors of the European Union – the EU Council Presidency – and its ability to link the EU closer to its citizens. The concept of second-order legitimacy will be applied as a framework for the analysis. It will be argued that the Lisbon Treaty provides room for manoeuvre that would enable the Council Presidency to strengthen the ties between the EU and the European citizenry. However, due to the Council’s functional logic, this margin is clearly limited.

The paper was presented at the symposium "Whither the EU's Shared Leadership? (Re)Assessing the Value of the European Union Council Presidency in the context of the 2007 IGC", European Studies Centre, Oxford, October 10/11, 2007. It was developed within the project "Greater Europe" that the Bertelsmann Foundation jointly conducts with the C·A·P.

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