A two‐tier conception of European Union peoplehood: A realist study of European citizens’ bonds of collectivity

AuthorJan Pieter Beetz
Publication Date01 Nov 2017
A twotier conception of European Union
peoplehood: A realist study of European citizens
bonds of collectivity
Jan Pieter Beetz*
The European Union (EU) struggles to legitimate its rule. This realist study develops a conception of peoplehood in
the EU polity, because, in contemporary Europe, the peopleremains the sole source of political legitimacy. From
a realist perspective, a conception of peoplehood should yield a coherent story why EU citizens should accept, or
at least acquiesce, to EU rule. This study explores the possibility of a pluralistic conception being either multilay-
ered, multifaceted or both. Taking a practicedependent approach, I first analyse the institutional systems that
structure relationships between EU citizens. I secondly propose conceptions of EU citizensbonds of collectivity.
Thirdly, I develop a novel twotier conception of EU peoplehood in which individuals remain bound together as
national peoples, while these peoples are in turn united by commercial and liberal bonds. I submit that this con-
ception can lay the foundation for a convincing story to legitimate EU rule.
In February2015, GermanChancellor Merkeland French presidentHollande arrangeda compromisewith Ukrainianpres-
identPoroshenkoand his RussiancounterpartPutin to contributetowardsending thewar betweenthose countries.
nal conflicts, such as theabove, are not solvedby patiently findingParetooptimal outcomes. They requiretaking political
decisions that will entail compromising on both interestsand values. Moreover, external forces, such as speculators on
financialmarkets,have forcedthe EuropeanUnion (EU)to take decisiveand swift action.EU politicshas thus extendedfrom
the domainof regulation intothe world of realpolitik.
This typeof politics entailsdecisionmakingon often salient issues.
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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial License, which permits use, dis-
tribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
© 2018 The Authors. European Law Journal Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Jan Pieter Beetz recently started as a Lecturer in Politics at the Radboud University Nijmegen and in Philosophy at Leiden University.
He wrote this article during his ACCESS EUROPE Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Department of Political Science and Public
Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. For feedback on earlier iterations, I thank participants and audiences at the ACCESS
EUROPE Early Career Workshop, Amsterdam 2015; the panel on the EU's normative identityat ECPR SGEU, Trento 2016; the
ELJ author's workshop, Amsterdam 2017; and the Images of Sovereignty Conference, Leuven 2017. For their extensive comments,
I am grateful to Ben Crum, Luigi Corrias, Markus Patberg, and Tom Theuns.
L. Van Middelaar, De Nieuwe Politiek Van Europa (Historische Uitgeverij, 2017), 1516.
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12270
Eur Law J. 2017;23:467481. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/eulj 467

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