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Dissertation zugänglich unter
The Institutional Accountability in the European Union and its crisis : The Loss of Democratic Control and Institutional Balance during the Euro Crisis
Die institutionelle Rechenschaftspflicht in der Europäischen Union und ihre Krise : Der Verlust demokratischer Kontrolle und institutioneller Ausgewogenheit während der Eurokrise
Dokument 1.pdf (1.546 KB)
Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch):
Accountability , institutional balance , democratic deficit
Hatje, Armin (Prof. Dr.)
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung:
Kurzfassung auf Englisch:
This thesis chooses to make a review on actual operation of institutions in the EU decision-making especially the government-legislative relations, testing whether the government power has received due control in the decision-making process, after detailed review of theories regarding the transnational democracy, democratic deficit and the institutional balance issues. With the approach of the distinction between the government political and the administrative, the European Council, which has actually played the role of political direction determinate and the productive engine of major policies, has become the genuine government political in the European Union, relegating the European Commission which is supposed to be the guard of the general European interests and the sole policy initiator to be more like the secretariat to the European Council and the Commission has substantially transferred or at least shared the power to initiate with the European Council. There are reasons for the emergence of that pattern in that it empowers the Commission to guarantee its initiatives will be mostly accepted and also provide the Commission with a channel to be involved into CFSP areas. However, this pattern also leads to consequences. First, the existing mechanisms for democratic control in the EU designed to impose control and supervision on the Commission fail to target the genuine government to impose supervision. What is even worse, the European Commission which is responsible for the mission to balance the interests between the big and the small member states especially for special attend to the smaller ones has deviated from its institutional role.
Loss of power control is brought about not only by the defect in the government branches, but also that in the legislative branch. The legislative branch is addressed to provide the European Union with democratic legitimacy through a dual democratic basis. However, the authority structure of the legislative branch has been so fragmented as to be incapable of accomplishing the fundamental function as a representative institution and thus aggravates the problem on member-voters linkage, performing as a re-split of the legislative power. European Parliament’s representation and democratic basis are still in question and its roles in the decision-making process are also fundamentally marginalized. The democratic legitimacy enjoyed by the single member of the Council does not help the counterpart of the Council as a whole a lot. For the part of national parliaments, the actual function of the newly-introduced mechanism is still in doubt. However, the Early Warning Mechanism may lead to more bureaucracy and may constitute breaching of certain fundamental political formulas and even to lead to constitutional dilemma or deadlock. From the functionalistic perspective, the legislative branch structure fails to accomplish the complete function of a representative institution which includes the democratic input of policies, the deliberation of policies and the feedbacks to the public and the voters made by the representatives.
The Euro Crisis further aggravates the imbalance of powers between the legislative and government branch. During the Crisis and the counter-crisis programs, the power regarding economic policies and financial policies have been centralized to the European institutions, with the independent institutions like the ECB being authorized to deploy the budget of creditor member states to rescue the debtor member states while the intergovernmental institutions including the European Council, the Council, the ECOFIN as well as the Euro group become the substantial decision-making body for economic policies imposed on the debtor member states. However, this unprecedented de facto transfer of power and sovereignty transformed those intergovernmental institutions to be the European economic government. However, the institutional construction of democratic control and accountability over those powers newly transferred fails to keep peace with those powers transferred from the member states to the EU institutions. During the Euro crisis and the counter-crisis programs, the European Parliament and the national parliaments have been largely marginalized. Besides, the EU also faces the challenge of an unbalanced structure of different interests, especially the interests of big and small member states. The mechanisms which aim at the improvement of the efficiency of EU decision-making and deeper integration also give rise to the problem of the ignorance of small member states’ interests. Particularly, the European Commission has alienated to renounce its institutional roles, turning out to be incompetent in performing the function to balance different interests since it has to accept the conclusion of those intergovernmental institutions, leading to the decline and dissolution of the institutional legitimacy for the Commission as an independent institution. The loss of democratic control and the erosion of institutional balance join to trigger the accountability crisis of the European Union.