European Union Institutions

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‘In theory, the European Commission represents the EU interest, the European Parliament acts as the voice of the people of the EU, and the Council represents the interests of national governments. The reality is quite different.’

The elementary organizing principles of the European Union have been the representation of different interests and the balance of power between the EU institutions and those particular interests. Emphasized in Monnet’s vision, one of the key tasks of the European project was ‘…to ensure that in their limited field these new institutions were both thoroughly democratic and accountable’. Yet, it is often questionable as to whether this task has been accomplished. It is more and more felt that the practical democratization and accountability of the institutions has been gradually dissenting from its theoretical objective. Where the supranational competencies of the EU have been growing, an effective system of political representation of the institutions is said to be missing. This paper aims put together a picture reflecting the essence of this division between empirical legitimacy, based on political reality, and the conceptual, normative legitimacy of each of these institutions arguing the perhaps further transparency and accountability may take the EU institutions a step closer towards achieving their theoretical role.

The original Monnet plan envisaged the Commission as a body enjoying output legitimacy by being a promoter of EU interests and a pro – integrationist actor. This plan saw the “technocratic elites” as the best people to scientifically deduce the best path towards the eventual goal of integration through ‘pro-integrationist’ policies. The ‘condition’ of independence and expertise (as illustrated in Article 17 TEU) is (theoretically) realized when member state governments set the agenda on which they (and...

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