Future of Europe

Published on 13 June 2020 at 23:44

The Case Bundesverfassungsgericht versus EU Court of Justice
Can the EU function as a democracy without forming a State?

Jaap Hoeksma


The Case BVerfG v EUCoJ portrays the clash between the German Constitutional Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union as a collision between two competing visions or Weltanschauungen. While the views of the BVerfG are firmly rooted in the traditional approach, known as the Westphalian system of International Relations, the EU Court of Justice takes the emerging European model of Transnational Governance as its point of departure. The stakes could hardly be higher. The debate between the two Courts focuses on the question whether or not the EU can function as a democracy without forming a state.
In addressing this pivotal question the author introduces the theory of democratic integration as a contemporary political philosophy for the EU. The novelty of the new theory is that it substitutes the civic perspective of democracy and the rule of law in the study of the EU for the diplomatic paradigm of states. The theory of democratic integration holds that, if two or more democratic states agree to share sovereignty in a number of fields with a view to attain common goals, their organization should be democratic too.
The author suggests that the 2007 Lisbon Treaty construes the EU as a dual democracy, in which both the member states and the Union have to comply with stringent demands of democracy and the rule of law. He argues that, although the competences of the European Parliament are far from complete, the EU is gradually outgrowing its notorious democratic deficit and is slowly but steadily on its way to become a democratic Union of democratic States.
This booklet bears all the hallmarks of its genesis. The author started his journey after the corona lockdown had confined him to his study. When he had almost completed the first draft of his text, the BundesVerfassungsGericht gave its verdict on the ECB, thereby offering the author the chance to re-write his discourse in terms of a tectonic collision between two schools of thought. May it serve to overcome the philosophical deficit of the EU too by providing the Union with an own and distinct theory for its functioning as a European democracy.

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