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Research programme set up to establish whether EU has ‘legitimacy’ in modern era

A GROUND-BREAKING research programme will probe whether the European Union still has any “legitimacy” in the modern age amid accusations the body is undemocratic and corrupt.

Jean-Claude JunckerGETTY

Researchers will probe whether the EU has any ‘legitimacy’


Academics from across Europe will take part in the massive project, designed to assess whether the EU “meets its own standards” in terms of representing ordinary citizens.

Experts from Cambridge University are part of the revolutionary PLATO initiative, which will explore the twin phenomenons of technocratic Government and rising populism.

Technocracy is best exemplified currently by the European Commission, where unelected bureaucrats take political decisions affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people with questionable levels of oversight.The mode of Government, which has been the way of doing things in Brussels for decades, is facing increasingly stiff resistance from populist leaders like France’s Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Beppe Grillo, who believe elected politicians should call the shots.

The EU Commission buildingGETTY

The EU’s institutions are largely technocratic


Marine Le PenGETTY

Populist leaders like Marine Le Pen are on the march


Now academics from across Europe are set to test whether or not the EU’s current institutions can survive the political revolution sweeping the Western world, with potentially far-reaching consequences for its future.An advert for 15 new research fellows for the project states: “One important test of the legitimacy of any political order is whether it meets its own standards.

“The Lisbon Treaty claims that the European Union is based on standards of representative democracy.

“The credibility of this claim rests on an understanding of representative democracy in which competition between political parties for the people’s vote – in European elections and in national elections – can directly and indirectly give EU institutions a legitimate right to make decisions binding on all.”

It goes on: “Two contrasting trends in contemporary European politics –technocracy and populism – question how far a standard understanding of representation based on competition and compromise between political parties confers legitimacy at all.“For defenders of technocracy, political competition cannot confer legitimacy where it produces wrong or inexpert decisions. For populists, political competition between political parties is a disguised form of elitism.”

The researchers pledge to carry out a full investigation into “how far the European Union’s responses to the crises have been contested on technocratic or populist grounds”.

Crises faced by the EU in the last few years including the current migrant chaos, as well as eurozone stagnation and a growing sense of frustration with Brussels on the part of ordinary voters.

Alongside those from Cambridge academics attached to universities in Antwerp, Berlin, Krakow, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Twente, and Vienna will all contribute to the project.The announcement comes as the European Union faces its toughest year yet in 2017, with Britain set to trigger Article 50 and general elections taking place in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

Ms Le Pen is expected to get to the final round of the French presidential race whilst the anti-EU politician Geert Wilders could become Holland’s next leader if his party wins the largest share of the country’s parliament.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/751176/European-Union-research-programme-EU-legitimacy-financial-crisis-Brexit

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