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Bringing European Democracy Back In—Or How to Read the German Constitutional Court's Lisbon Treaty Ruling

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Abstract

This article critically examines the democratic theory that informs the German Federal Constitutional Court's Lisbon Treaty ruling. This is needed because the ruling is ambiguous with regard to which type of democracy applies to which type of Union. In order to analyse the ruling we establish three models of what European democracy possibly can amount to: audit democracy based on the EU as a derivative of the Member States; a multinational federal state; or a regional cosmopolitan polity? The court's depiction of the EU does not fit as well as we would expect when labeled as a derivative entity due to the important legislative role of the European Parliament. The EU's legal supranationalism points in the direction of a federation, but the court's argumentation does not lend support to this notion. The court models democracy on a rather specific set of institutional presuppositions that are derived from the parliamentary model of democracy associated with the sovereign nation state. At the same time, the court operates with a conception of a changing state sovereignty that unfolds more in line with cosmopolitan rather than with classical Westphalian statist principles.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ARENA—Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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