Democratic Legitimacy and Political Leadership in the European Union:
An international seminar organized by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies
Towards the 2014 European Elections
with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Fondazione Italianieuropei
Rome, 18th January 2013
Hotel Majestic (Via Vittorio Veneto, 50)
The EU is at a crossroads. The crisis of the sovereign debt is putting historical accomplishments of the last decades seriously at risk, bringing into evidence structural shortcomings of the EU institutional set up. Without more effective and accountable institutions, it is hard to imagine how the EU will come through the crisis.
A broad consensus in the EU exists on the idea that democratic legitimacy is increasingly important. Democracy, however, remains a problematic concept: a look at member states’ constitutions reveals that several views exist on the institutions and procedures considered essential for ensuring democratic legitimacy. The challenging task is to draft a political framework that can be considered legitimate from the different perspectives being present in member states.
The Lisbon Treaty introduces some relevant innovations in order to extend the EU legitimacy: it increases the powers of the European Parliament and the role of European political parties; it establishes a more accountable distribution of competences between the Union and the Member States; it strenghtens the role of national Parliaments in the EU legislative process and, last but not least importantly, it creates the European Citizens’ Initiative.
The implementation of these provisions impacts on the institutional balance of the EU, and the application of some of them is opening up interinstitutional conflicts and possibly political 2 contradictions. Moreover, the intergovernamental method promoted by many member states is weakening the EU institutions’ legitimacy (with particular regard to the Commission). Against this background, a key role must be played by the European Parliament as promoter of a more consistent linkage between citizens and institutions and, at the same time, of a stronger European leadership.
In the light of the ongoing debate on the possible review of the Treaties and in view of the 2014 European elections, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Fondazione Italianieuropei – within the framework of the Next Left Research Programme – want to focus on the political and institutional obstacles on the way of a more integrated European Public Sphere with the goal of formualting policy recommendations to the European Parliament and political actors in order to increase voter turnout in the next European elections.
Ernst Stetter, Secretary General, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, EU
9.45 Keynote speech:
Massimo D’Alema, President, Foundation for European Progressive Studies and Fondazione Italianieuropei, Italy
10.00 Panel 1 – Direct Election of the President of the European Commission: A Silent Revolution?
Raffaello Matarazzo, Senior Fellow, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Italy
Thomas Poguntke, Director of the Institut für Deutsches und Internationales Parteienrecht und Parteienforschung, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany
Renaud Dehousse, Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Law and Political Science, Sciences Po - Paris, France
12.00 Panel 2 – Sleeping Beauties or Political Players? The Future of European Parties
Ania Skrzypek, Senior Research Fellow, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Poland
Luciano Bardi, Co-Director of the EUDO Observatory on Political Parties and Representation, European University Institute, Italy
Kurt Richard Luther, Professor of Comparative Politics, Keele University, United Kingdom
15.30 Round table: Political Union and European Democracy
Michael Braun, Director of the Italian office, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Germany
Giuliano Amato, President, International Advisory Board, Fondazione Italianieuropei; Italy
Monica Frassoni, Co-President, European Green Party, EU
Roberto Gualtieri, Member of the European Parliament, Italy
Axel Schäfer, Vice President, SPD Group, Bundestag, Germany
17.30 End of works