An EU Citizens' Assembly on Refugee Law and Policy

Gráinne de Búrca
2020 German Law Journal  
Given the long-standing and all too familiar democratic deficiencies of the EU, which have been exacerbated by the economic and other crises afflicting the EU over the past decade, could Ireland's recent experience with citizens' assemblies yield any relevant lessons for the European Union? I suggest in this Article that it could. Despite initiatives for democratic reform, parliamentary elections, a powerful European Parliament, democratically elected representatives in the Council of
more » ... a legally enshrined principle of transparency, a strong EU court, and various layers of legal and constitutional rights protection, at the core of the EU's democracy deficit is the fact that it still lacks responsiveness to the preferences of its citizens. 1 True, there is a directly elected parliament, but there are no European political parties. Ultimately, there is no way for citizens to ensure that their vote in European parliament elections translates into any kind of recognizable influence on EU policy making. Further, despite a powerful-and in many ways impressive-European Parliament, there remains a problem of executive dominance in the EU. 2 This executive dominance in turn is exacerbated by the opaqueness of the EU political system and by the technocratic, complex workings of the EU supranational institutions. These institutions are highly inaccessible to citizens and difficult for them to understand or access, making it hard for them to feel a sense of being adequately represented. The democratic crisis is no longer unique to the European Union, if it ever was. The decline of citizen participation in elections and the growth of public mistrust in, and alienation from, traditional political parties and processes is a more widespread problem today and is certainly not peculiar to the EU. Since the eruption of the Brexit-Trump phenomena in 2016, if not before, increasingly alarming studies have been published on the apparent decline in support for democracy and the waning belief in the value of democracy, particularly on the part of younger people across various democratic states. 3 Democracy is in crisis in many parts of the world, including in those parts that had experienced decades or more of democratic rule, and authoritarianism -with its supposed attractions to those who no longer believe that democratic systems can provide the public goods they seek -is on the rise. 4
doi:10.1017/glj.2019.90 fatcat:beisia32g5eepbw3mmscsizibi