Representation in multilateral democracy: How to represent individuals in the EU while guaranteeing the mutual recognition of peoples

AuthorAntoinette Scherz
Publication Date01 Nov 2017
Representation in multilateral democracy: How to
represent individuals in the EU while guaranteeing
the mutual recognition of peoples
Antoinette Scherz*
The democratic criteria for representation in the European Union are complex since its representation involves
several delegation mechanisms and institutions. This paper develops institutional design principles for the
representation of peoples and individuals and suggests reform options of the European Union on the basis of
the theory of multilateral democracy. In particular, it addresses how the equality of individuals can be realised
in EU representation while guaranteeing the mutual recognition of peoples. Unlike strict intergovernmental insti-
tutions, the EU requires an additional and independent legislative chamber in which individuals are directly repre-
sented. However, strict equality of individuals cannot be the guiding principle for this chamber. In order to
avoid the overruling of peoples through supranational majorities, it is necessary to bind the chamber's composi-
tion by a principle of degressive proportionality. The representation of peoples, on the other hand, needs to be
connected to their domestic democratic institutions.
Ever since democracy moved beyond the citystate, representation has been an essential part of the democratic pro-
cess. Nowadays, modern democracies make use of the tool of formal representation through election or appointment.
The European Union (EU) also employs representational institutions for its legitimation, in particular the European
Parliament (EP) but also the Council and national parliaments. In the discussion regarding the democratic deficit of
the EU, its representational mechanisms have been criticised as being too indirect.
However, since representation
in the EU is more complex due to its multilevel structure, its representational institutions shouldnot be judged accord-
ing to standards of national democracies.
This paper seeks to develop a more precise account of representation in the EU based on the theory of
demoicracy or multilateral democracy, which is a normative account of democratic relationships between several
Research Fellow, Centre for Advanced Studies Justitia Amplificata, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
( Part of the research enabling this article was carried out while a research fellow at the Swiss National
Competence Centre for Excellence in Research Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century. I would like to thank Thomas Winzen
for his contribution to an earlier version of this paper. I am also grateful to the participants of the ACCESS EUROPE Early Career
Workshop on the Political Theory of European Integration 2015 and 2017 as well as the participants of the ECPR General Conference
2016 Panel Justice and Legitimacy in the EU, in particular, Jan Pieter Beetz, Luigi Corrias, Ben Crum and Markus Patberg for their
constructive comments.
For example, A. Føllesdal and S. Hix, Why There Is a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response to Majone and Moravcsik, (2006) 44
JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 533562.
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12267
Eur Law J. 2017;23:495508. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons 495

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